The Farmers and Merchants Bank drive-through branch on Cherokee Lane has a date with the wrecking ball. The bank is closing that location after 37 years, according to Ryan Misasi, executive vice president. You will recall that the shopping center where K-Mart once lived was sold. The new owners and the bank could not agree on a design for a new building, so the branch will close July 31. All current branch employees will continue to work in Lodi, we’re told. Misasi says the shopping center’s new owners plan to redevelop the front end of the property where the building now sits.

BREAKING NEWS: The new Papapavlo’s Bistro and Bar will break ground around May 15 with construction expected to be completed by early next year, according to owner Jennifer Pappas.

The restaurant will go on the corner of Lockeford and School, where there is now a vacant lot. Papapavlo’s is a well-known eatery in Stockton’s Lincoln Center. The project will also include a 4,100-square-foot retail center, fountain and a fire pit, in addition to the restaurant. Bay Equity Home Loans and Maddog and Pepper Bakery Café will share space with Papapavlo’s in the new shopping center.

GOTTA GO: They say the camera never blinks, but in this case it surely grimaced. Someone’s security camera caught an early morning jogger on the west side of town answering the call of nature against the side of their home last week. Eeeewww! Horrified, the homeowner called police, who contacted the person and suggested they return to the scene of the grime to clean it up. The resident said it was not a homeless-type and that someone “pooping in my front yard is not ok!!” Possible understatement there.

SADDLE UP: This June Lodi native Price Burlington will begin a bike ride in San Ramon and finish it 3,500 miles away in Philadelphia. His trek across America will be done in the memory of his son, Carson, who was tragically killed in a car accident in September, 2017.

Price has teamed up with the High-Fives Foundation to keep his son’s memory alive and to raise funds to support the “dreams of mountain action sports athletes.” Donations to the cause are welcome. Price is hoping to raise at least $5,000 to “help an injured athlete with rehabilitation through the Carson Burlington Memorial Fund.” Those wishing to do so may donate to Team Carson on the High Fives website.

OPEN AND CLOSED: Hawks Landing wine tasting room has closed in downtown Lodi after less than a year in business. A sign in the window says the closure is permanent. The School Street building that the winery occupied has reportedly experienced significant plumbing issues, which contributed to the decision to shutter. … But a block away Devore Wine Cave LLC looks to be re-opening the Fenix restaurant space, in the theater building on Elm Street, under the name Bubble N Birds. It will be an “on sale beer and wine eating place,” according to the ABC notice in the window.

The Fenix closed abruptly several months ago after being in business a couple years. … Work continues on the new Brickhouse Restaurant and Lounge at the corner of School and Elm, where Lodi Feed & Fuel used to be. They specialize in Italian-American fare, and also have another location in Elk Grove. Looks like they will open soon. … Reese School at Elm and Mills is tearing out a ball diamond to make way for a parking lot, according to a school representative. … We were mistaken last week when we reported that Bud Adams was the oldest living member of the Lodi Lions Club when he passed away two weeks ago. That honor still belongs to Floyd Zastrow, who is 93. Bud was the second oldest, at 81.

BY THE NUMBERS: A national ranking by “24/7 Wall Street,” a website you’ve never heard of, concludes that the Lodi-Stockton metro area is the “worst region in California” in which to drive. Lodi? Really? Have they been to L.A.? The authors obviously haven’t been to Lodi to see that it takes about 10 minutes to drive from one end of town to the other--in heavy traffic. They cite various statistics to support their case, including an average commute time of 33.3 minutes. They say we suffer from a $2.68 average price per gallon of gasoline.

Wouldn’t it be nice to only be paying that? The report also cites a couple other numbers that are equally meaningless, such as the average number of vehicles per household (1.1, they say) and the number of traffic fatalities (16.1 per 100 residents). Methinks the bad ranking comes from being tethered to Stockton, statistically anyway.

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

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