It’s the year that was. A mixed bag. Ups and downs, thrills and spills. Here are some of the highlights:

WE CELEBRATED: Lodi Police Officer Erika Urrea was awarded the Governor’s Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor. … Mary (Castelanelli) Kaehler turned 103 in February. … Lodi Chiropractor Toni Reynolds called it a career after 41 years. … Lodi’s Tia Linda’s Margarita received a gold medal at the Denver Spirits Competition. … Acquiesce Winery owner Susan Tipton received the Best Woman Winemaker award. … Lodi natives Rudy and Casey Vaccarezza were on the cover of “Recycling Today” Magazine. … 15-year-old Lodi High schooler Jack Main shot a hole-in-one at Woodbridge Golf and Country Club, the second of his career. … Jacob Lear was named Lodi Fire Fighter of the Year. … Jeremy Wine Company was named Winery of the Year by the Visit Lodi organization. … Lodi District Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Pat Patrick announced his retirement. … Lodi’s Dave Phillips finished his first 31-mile ultra-marathon in Moab, Utah while his son Conner came in 5th in the 50-mile race. … Lodi’s Kirk Wentland won again at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance car show. … Lodi’s Clare Reynolds won $12,191 at Thunder Valley Casino. … Hugh and Shirley Metcalf of Lodi celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. … Sheri Zapara announced her retirement after 42 years, closing her “Hair Shop” in the Lakewood Mall. … Lodi-area resident Denise Warmerdam retires as chief of staff after serving three different county supervisors. … Former Lodi City Attorney and retired Superior Court Judge Bob McNatt released his first novel, entitled “Edison Highway.” … The winner of the Lodi Musicians Showcase at this year’s Lodi Grape Festival was Conner Wright.

WE VOTED: Ron Freitas beat incumbent Tori Verber-Salazar to become district attorney. … Alan Nakanishi tied the record for longest-serving city councilman with five terms. … Lisa Craig was elected to replace Mark Chandler, who decided not to run again. … 21-year-old Cameron Bregman set a new record as the youngest person to ever be elected to the Lodi City Council, beating incumbent Doug Kuehne. … Lodi area resident Steve Ding was elected to the county board of supervisors, replacing Chuck Winn, who termed-out. … 32-year-old Mikey Hothi was elected mayor, and Lisa Craig, mayor pro tem.

WE GAVE: Little 8-year-old Emma Means hosted a bake sale to benefit the police department’s K-9 team, raising over $1,700 for the cause. … Three local Rotary clubs pooled their time and talents to renovate the bleachers at Kofu Park. … The Meehleis and Sinclair Foundation, along with the Lodi Boosters of Boys/Girls Sports, donated $14,817 to purchase a new Daktronics scoreboard at Tony Zupo Field. … Farmers and Merchants Bank held a silent auction and raised a whopping $25,000 for United Way. … Denise DeFalco raised money for the American Cancer Society by walking 62 miles in honor of her friend, Lodi’s Charley Hauner. … Danielle Parrillo of Lodi carried 8-year-old daughter Tegan Matthews on her back for the entire 3.1-mile Lodi Heros race.

WE GREW: There will be 150 homes built on the south side of Harney Lane near Stockton Street. … The city embarked on a mammoth industrial property annexation east of town. … Plans fell through to build a hotel in downtown Lodi where the post office is. … Gill Medical Center, proposed along West Lane near 8 Mile Road, was green-lighted by country supervisors. … Progress was made on the Southwest Gateway project, which stretches from Kettleman to Harney. … The new Talavera subdivision on Cochran Road was largely finished. … Construction began on Valvoline Instant Oil Change in the Walmart center. … The area behind the old Plummer Pontiac on Kettleman Lane may be known as Hotel Row after a Tru Hotel is constructed. … Construction began on the new 21,000-ft. El Gallo commissary on the northwest corner of Lockeford and Guild. … Lodi’s 2022 point-in-time (PIT) count showed the city’s homeless population grew by about 50%.

WE CRINGED: A three-alarm fire destroyed much of the two-story apartment building on the corner of Locust and Stockton Streets. … Parents, kids and others protested the firing of a district employee for refusing to obey the mask requirement. … St. Anne’s Catholic School closed for a day as administrators delt with a mask-mandate revolt among students and parents. … A billboard on eastbound Lodi Avenue that screamed, “HIGH, LODI. We deliver cannabis” came down after a brief showing. … Fire gutted the interior of the Farmer Boys restaurant on Kettleman Lane at the entrance to the Sunwest Plaza shopping center. … Horrified motorists who parked their cars in the downtown parking garage returned to find big chunks of concrete from the structure’s ceiling had fallen on their cars. … Lodi Unified’s latest state testing results revealed only 38.6% of students taking the test met or exceeded state standards. … A “shed load” order sent to Lodi Electric was issued in error, resulting in 1,300 customers sitting in the dark with no air conditioning and outside temps north of 110. … The San Joaquin Delta College Board of Trustees will sell at a loss 141 acres it owns on Liberty Road, purchased as a potential site for a satellite campus, which never materialized.

WE DID BUSINESS: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers opened in February on Kettleman Lane. … Valley Food Market opened in the Woodlake Shopping Center. … County VIP Denise Warmerdam and family purchased the Twisted Barrel Winery. … The Village Coffee Shop on Victor Road closed permanently. … Jeremy Wines opened a new tasting room at their barrel facility on Highway 88, between Lockeford and Clements. … The Corner Scone bakery-café reopened under new ownership. … Joe and Barbara Fiori announced they are selling the Butcher Shoppe deli on Lodi Avenue. … Downtown Lodi’s Bank of America closed permanently. … Lincoln Properties LTD purchased the Rosewood building on School Street for $1,133,000. … Cut the Mustard sandwich shop was put up for sale. … Weibel Winery is closing its downtown tasting room, same with its neighbor, Wine Social. … Katie and Brandon Hausauer will open a Squeeze Burger restaurant next to IDOL Brewing on Sacramento Street. … Local real estate broker (and former mayor) Phil Katzakian is working with local investor\developers who want to build a hotel on the corner of School and Lodi Avenue. … Farmers and Merchants Bank purchased the former Rocha’s Mortuary building on School Street for a reported $1.1 million. … Bruce’s Tires on Cherokee Lane was sold to employee Rob Foulk, says outgoing owner Dennis Cunnington.

WE SPENT: The Grape Bowl’s all-weather turf is being replaced for $760,000. … Garbage collection fees went up about a buck a month. … The City Hall security upgrade was finished at a final cost of $259,729. … Blakely Park at Stockton and Mission got a $1 million makeover. … Lodi Fire Department purchased a new hook-and-ladder fire truck for $1.7 million. … Lodi High School is getting a new $16.1 million aquatic center. … The city hauled in sales tax money with both hands, exceeding original estimates by nearly $3.5 million. … Final tab for the Great Plates Delivered program was $11,907,249. … Gas prices in Lodi ranged from $6.02 to $6.79 in June. … A new $1 million computer-aided dispatch and reporting system went “live” at the police department. ... The city is spending about $75,000 to turn part of Beckman Park into a small dog park, Lodi’s first. … The city had another bumper crop of extra cash at the end of last fiscal year, with a surplus of $8 million. That followed an even larger--$ 10 million—surplus the year before. … The city reinstated its delinquent account collections process, securing almost $800,000 in the first week. … Council members agreed to spend $10,000 to have a structural engineering report done on the old Main Street firehouse. … Over the next 18 months there will be two huge grape cluster monuments erected, one on Highway 99 and another on I-5, to promote the local wine industry at a cost of about $1 million. … Lodi Electric finished their $3,799,736 office remodel at the city’s corporation yard. … The city opened a temporary homeless shelter, at a cost of $13.6 million, including the soon-to-be-built access center.

WE CHANGED: Olivia Nashed became the city’s new city clerk, replacing Jennifer Cusmir. … Healthy Ways health food store in the Vineyard Shopping Center closed forever on March 30. … The historic brick buildings on Sacramento Street between Pine and Elm were razed. … Both Lodi courtrooms will close for lack of cases and judges. … More old classrooms at Lodi High were torn down to make way for a new parking lot. … The abandoned railroad bridge over Highway 99 that paralleled Victor Road was removed by Caltrans. … Juneteenth became a new paid holiday for Lodi city employees. … The boxcar shopping center planned for the corner of Church and Lockeford was moved to Sacramento Street, between Walnut and Lodi Avenue.

WE SAID FAREWELL: Merna Davis, 94, who worked for the JC Penney store in downtown Lodi for 27 years. … Nadine Horst, 89, general manager of Lodi’s professional baseball team in the mid-‘70s. … Lodi area agri-businessman Dean “Dino” Cortopassi. … Kathy Carey Dias, 71, Friend of Education Award recipient, died after a battle with cancer. … Arleen Wattel Huber, a local lady with a distinguished military career. … Joe Hammonds, California Teachers Association Golden Apple award recipient. … Former Lodi librarian Kathy Andrade. … Landscape artist Dana Smith, at age 64. … Lodi native and stage and screen star Pat Yankee, 95, died in a local nursing home on Memorial Day. … Marilyn Field, arguably one of the most important figures ever in Lodi youth sports and recreation programs. … Roger Baffoni, who along with his brother Biff owned Squire Clothiers on the corner of School and Pine, at age 86. … Bill Meehleis, founder of Meehleis Modular Buildings, 2013 Citizen of the Year, philanthropist. No one contributed more to Lodi than Bill (and Carol) Meehleis.

WE LAUGHED: Someone posted, “I came home from work and my wife asked me to take her out to someplace expensive. So, I took her to the gas station.”


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