Oak Valley Bank is the proud new owner of the former Bank of America building on School Street. Escrow closed about two weeks ago, according to Rob Thompson, who was part owner of the building. Oak Valley opened its doors in 1990 in Oakdale. Today, the bank has 18 branches, not including Lodi, and $1.9 billion in assets. Bank of America closed its School Street branch when COVID hit. Two years later the bank decided to abandon the location, leaving only one BofA in town, on Kettleman. Thompson says he has mixed feelings about selling the building, but is glad it will remain a bank. He says his great-grandfather was the first president of the Bank of Lodi when it was at the corner of Pine and Sacramento around the turn of the century. Significant renovation will be need to be done to the BofA building as it currently shares utilities with the Chamber of Commerce next door. Bank of America had a presence in downtown Lodi for at least 80 years.

ROLLIN’ IN DOUGH: The city just rolled out its draft budget proposal for next fiscal year. If things like this make your eyes gloss over and roll back in your head, here are some bite-sized morsels to chew on. The city remains in excellent financial shape, thanks largely to COVID-19 and the gobs of money the city received from the state to fill a budget shortfall that never materialized. The passage of Measure L in 2018 was also a godsend. How important are those funds to the city and its general fund? Consider this: the half-cent sales tax passed by voters five years ago pays for 26 police officers—almost a third of the entire force—and eight firefighters. It also pays for $1.6 million in public safety overtime costs, plus it injects over $700,00 a year into the Parks and Rec budget. Sales tax has become the single largest revenue source for the city, surpassing property tax. Officials project the city will collect $16.7 million in sales tax next budget year, and $13.4 million in property tax.

UP IN THE SKY: As the nation celebrates Memorial Day on Monday, both Cherokee Memorial Cemetery and Lodi Memorial Park and Cemetery on East Pine will be hosting observances. The American Legion Post 22 is doing a Memorial Day service at Lodi Memorial Park on East Pine Street, something they’ve been doing for 50 years. The post will also place 1,500 flags at veterans’ graves for the occasion. They will also place 317 casket flags on the Avenue of Flags on Monday. As part of the program at each cemetery there will be a “missing man” formation flyover by local pilots Dennis Holbrook, Ken Cantrell, Jim Woods and Stan Helmle. … The foursome also did an aerial demonstration during the Fusion music festival at Lodi Lake a couple weekends ago. Someone mentioned on social media that they saw four fighter planes flying over Lodi Lake during the event. Really? In Cessnas? C’mon, people.

SHOWTIME: The city’s website and social media pages may soon be sporting some professionally-produced videos showcasing Lodi. CGI Communications of New York will be shooting six one-minute videos featuring such topics as education, healthy living, homes and real estate and community organizations. The city’s Public Information Officer Mary Campbell says once the videos are done, “Future residents, visitors, and the entire community can get a feel for what this city has to offer.” The cost: free.

SAVE THE DATE: The American Steel Car Club will be having their 26th Stuck in Lodi Classic Car Show July 29 in downtown. The display of classic cars will span School Street from Lodi Avenue to Elm. It’s also a fundraiser, with net profits donated to local charities, according to Marty Duplichan, who says the event generated $10,000 for non-profits last year. Duplichan says the club is also seeking new members. The next club meeting is Thursday at 7 p.m., at the Moose Lodge on Woodbridge Road. For more information contact Bill at 209-649-2524 or Marty at 209-601-9940. … One of the hottest items this spring are the “Stuck in Lodi” T-shirts being sold by the Lodi Convention and Visitors Bureau on School Street. An employee says the shirts have been flying off the racks. Get ‘em before they’re gone.

GETTING STRONGER: Last year Lodi Police Chief Sierra Brucia said there were so many vacancies in his department that he was having to pull officers from special duty assignments to cover patrol shifts. Today Brucia says he’s still down several officers, but help is on the way. He says there are candidates currently in the hiring pipeline. Brucia says all patrol shifts are staffed, but he’s still short in some key positions.

FLASHBACK: It was just a tweak to the city’s animal ordinance, a change which received scant attention. Until it passed. In November 1979 the city council introduced a new policy that would require cat owners to leash their feline friends when the critters were outside. The intent was to stop cats from wandering into other people’s yards to do their business, among other reasons. When council members gathered at their Dec. 5 meeting to consider the new cat leash law, they were met by an audience ready for a cat fight. “The session brought fist-pounding and machine-gun-paced speeches, and out-of-order gavel-pounding by the mayor as protesters clamored to be heard,” news accounts reported. The fur was flying. The new law became known as “Stein’s Law, named after City Attorney Ron Stein, who drafted the measure. When word got out that the proposal was moving forward, housewife Sandy Kretzer began circulating a petition urging the city council to reverse its position. “It’s cruel, inhumane, and basically unenforceable,” Kretzer told a reporter. Another protester hissed, “When I put my cat on a leash, it flipped out!” Yet another speaker said she knew of an elderly lady who was “crying constantly” since imposition of the new law. But there were a few proponents at the meeting, too. Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Clark purred, “I’m in total agreement with the council,” saying they were probably speaking for the silent majority. In the end, the controversial measure was voted out of existence by a 3-2 decision, thus cutting the shackles from the city’s furry friends.

LAST LAUGH: Becky Treichel posted, “I’m a firm believer that every traffic jam starts with one (dumba--).”

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