Candy Cane Park at Holly and Pacific is essentially gone. Last week heavy equipment wiped it from the face of the earth. It’s now a clean slate upon which the city will rebuild Lodi’s smallest neighborhood park, originally built in the 1950s by the Soroptimist International of Lodi. The newly renovated park will include new playground equipment, benches, picnic tables, swings, a new drinking fountain, concrete sidewalks, updated fencing, and a new stone park sign. You’ll recall civic activist Myrna Wetzel made it her personal mission to see that Candy Cane and other small parks were not financially ignored. She and her dog Blessing continued marching along the sidewalk protesting the city’s budget practices until the front loaders rolled up last week.

PUBLIC WORKS: Lockeford Street between the railroad tracks and Cherokee Lane will receive a fresh layer of asphalt this week, making the roadway passable for motorists en route to next week’s Lodi Grape Festival. This comes as great news to Festival officials and business owners along that stretch of Lockeford, to say nothing of the driving public who has been detouring for months now. While the road will be open, the project won’t be completely done until the end of the year. … The old Mokelumne Credit Union building on Mills Avenue, next to the former General Mills plant, is being turned into a medical billing office. Remodeling work is underway. … A new 76 gas station with car wash and convenience store is going in on the corner of Stockton and Harney, down the street from Costco. … The old F&M drive-thru bank building on Cherokee Lane (in the old Kmart Center) has been demolished. A new retail center will replace it. A Dutch Bros. Coffee will be one of the new businesses to open there, according to the city.

PRETTY PICTURES: The Lodi Art Hop is this Friday and among the exhibits will be the electron microscopy photography of Lodi native Barbara Plowman. Barbara died in January of this year at age 64 from an illness related to renal failure and was the youngest daughter of the late Kathryn and Warren A. Plowman, M.D., a long-time Lodi physician. She was an electron microscopist at the University of the Pacific Dental School in San Francisco. “The show will contain black and white images of seeds, ants, mouse bones, cricket eye, and pollen, among other subjects. There are also composite works that are colored and computer enhanced,” says her sister Karen (Plowman) Giorgianni. After the Art Hop, the exhibit will be featured at the Double Dip Gallery on Pine Street through September.

BUS STOP: If you use the city’s Grapeline bus service and are the impatient type, there’s now a way to monitor in real time where your bus is as it makes its way along the route. DoubleMap is a smartphone app that uses global positioning to track the movements of each city bus on a virtual map. It’s slick. And it’s free.

SHE’S BAAAAK: The notorious public pooping jogger has reportedly struck again, this time leaving her mark at Glaves Park, according to social media accounts. The jogger’s first known public indiscretion occurred a few months ago on Corinth Avenue, just off Elm Street. That time the deed was captured by the victim’s Ring doorbell camera, and it went mini-viral over the Internet. The story was picked up by a local TV station, pictures and all. No film this time. Observers are saying the perpetrator needs a treadmill, a gym membership, or Depends. Where do you think you are, San Francisco?

GIANT THANKS: Bob Lofsted recently retired as principal of Lodi High School. The Lodi High Parent Club gave him S.F. Giants tickets as a retirement gift. Game day arrived a couple weeks ago and while Bob and his family were enjoying the game, this message flashed up on the scoreboard: “Happy retirement to principal Lofsted our Lodi High Giant!”

NO FIRE HERE: When plans for Reynolds Ranch (the Costco shopping center) were being drawn up it included a 1.53-acre parcel designated for a future fire station. That was then. The city has decided a new station at that location is no longer needed now that fire Station Two has been completed on Cherokee Lane. The city owns the parcel (it was given to the city by the developer as a condition of approval of the project) and will be subdividing and selling it to the highest bidder, according to city officials. The parcel is being split into 10 single-family lots. The sale should be completed within the next few months and the city’s windfall could be as much as $800k, according to a local developer. The cash will go into the general fund until the city council decides how to spend it.

PLAY BALL: It’s all smiles in the local Pickleball community these days. Nancy Hennefer, the Lodi Pickleball Club coordinator, reports that the tennis courts at Kofu Park have been resurfaced and four of them have been painted and converted to Pickleball courts. But that’s not all. The city will also be resurfacing the tennis courts at Legion Park on Hutchins, providing space for six additional permanent Pickleball courts. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is tentatively being planned for Sept. 28. The group says it has been waiting for more than two years for the city to create the courts. Pickleball is reportedly the fastest-growing sport in the country. When told that he made the Pickleball crowd very happy, the famously shy and introverted parks, recreation and cultural services director (Jeff Hood) said, “That’s what I do.”

MARKET MUSIC: This Thursday is the last farmers market for the season. Last week’s featured entertainment was the First Street Band (formerly known as “Keep on Truck’n”). The ensemble included Bob Howen, a Lodi doctor and leader of the band; retired high school teacher Dave Sayler on bass; pharmacist Keith Ota on the drums; and Tiger Lines Trucking executive Dennis Altnow on guitar. Sounding good for dudes in their sixties.

LOOKING BACK: Fifty years ago today a half gallon of milk (in a glass bottle, no less) from the Milk Stop on Hutchins Street was 52 cents; a pumpkin pie from Alexander’s Bakery on the corner of Lodi Avenue and Fairmont was 79-cents; Victor Brand wieners were 65-cents a pound at Turnage Market on the corner of Church and Pine; a fresh halibut steak from the Lodi Fish Market at 40 N. Main Street was $1.15 a pound; a pint of green beans and ham from Peirano’s Delicatessen at 119 E. Pine was 55-cents; a 4-bedroom, 2-bath home at a “good Westside location” was offered by Aladdin Real Estate for $25,900. Just contact Norm Fletcher for more information. All those businesses are long gone (along with the prices!). And you thought things never change around here.

Steve is a former newspaper publisher and lifelong Lodian whose column appears most Tuesdays in the News-Sentinel. Write to Steve at aboutlodi@gmail.com.

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