The old Sunset Theater on Lodi Avenue has been sold and is in escrow, according to listing agent Karen Chandler of Bokides-Hesseltine Realtors. You’ll recall steps were recently taken to dress up the old girl, making her more presentable to potential buyers, including hauling out garbage and debris that collected over the years. And there’s more: the Alexander’s Bakery property next door is also in escrow, according to Nick Kramer, listing agent for that place. It might be the same buyer for both properties, but we can’t yet confirm that. No official word on what the plans are for either space, but some have heard that the bakery building might be razed and the theater renovated. Whatever happens, many feel it will be a welcome improvement to that corner, which has witnessed a slow-decaying of those two historic properties for the past few decades. Stay tuned.

THE GRAB BAG: Local gastroenterologist (think colonoscopies) David Aarons is retiring at the end of this month after 37 years practicing in Lodi. His office will close but his patients will be transferred to Adventist Health (Lodi Memorial Hospital). … Ready for Lockeford Street to open again? You’ll have to wait until November, according to the city. The road’s done but the new streetlights are back-ordered. … Whatever happened to the city’s water conservation patrols? They’re still out there, according to Public Works Director Charlie Swimley. But “due to staffing issues, (they) have had only one water conservation officer available for most of the summer. Patrols over the winter months will continue but (they) schedule fewer hours overall each week because automatic sprinklers are supposed to be turned off through winter,” says Charlie. … The building going up at 527 W. Lodi Avenue will be the new home of a print shop and graphic design business, according to city official Craig Hoffman. Francisco Sanchez is the property owner and he is moving and expanding his business from across the street. … On a related sad note: Craig Hoffman is leaving the city and his last day is sometime next week. He has done a lot for the town in his capacity as city planner. He will be missed. … A new Chipotle restaurant is going in at Reynolds Ranch, near the entrance to the shopping center, across from PetSmart. … We’ve been following the saga of the contaminated and over-stuffed recycling bins and the stiff fines commercials customers have been paying. We were first told that the city had billed about $20k since last year for the infractions. But holy Coke cans, was that number ever wrong! Turns out the correct number is closer to $335,000, according to Deputy City Manager Andrew Keys, who gave us the first number. Some businesses have balked, but most have just paid it. … A new “Longevity Business Award” will be presented by the Lodi Historical Society at the Lodi Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony in December. … Lodi Fire Chief Gene Stoddart recently received the “Quiet Rotarian Award” from the Sunrise Rotary Club of Lodi for outstanding club service. … Save the date!: “Experience the Square” is coming to Hutchins Street Square on Jan. 26. The city is partnering with HSS Foundation for the event, which will include wine and beer tasting and live performances by musician Chris Pierce and drummer Chris Lovejoy.

LOST AND FOUND: You may have read about the missing painting of a hummingbird by American master artist Jack Feldman. Well, it turned up. The painting, depicting a hummingbird in flight, had been displayed at this year’s Lodi Grape Festival, and, indeed, it won a blue ribbon, says Feldman. But the painting somehow went missing at the end of the show as it was being transported from the Festival grounds to Feldman’s home. He looked everywhere. He went to the police station and filed a report, knowing there wasn’t much the cops could do about it. The Sentinel even published a story about the disappearance. Feldman spent four fitful days racking his brain, re-tracing his every step with the artwork. It was a real head-scratcher. Four days after its disappearance Feldman hears a soft wrap-wrap-wrap at the back door. It was his neighbor, a young boy standing there with a big smile and the lost painting in his hands. Seems Mr. Feldman forgot that he’d stacked his $3,500 piece of art on top of the garbage can while unloading his car. And there it stayed until his young neighbor found it and returned it to him. Turns out the young man’s name is, appropriately, Angel.

STAR-STUDDED: Memories of the Woodbridge Feed & Fuel continue to come in: Rick Baumbach was a busboy at the restaurant in the early ‘70s and remembers one night Faye Dunaway, George C. Scott, Jack Palance and John Mills came in for dinner. They were apparently filming the movie “Oklahoma Crude” at the Ospital Ranch in Calaveras County at the time. (Yes, we confirmed the movie’s release date—1973).

LOCAL CONNECTION: If you’ve attended the Broadway hit “Hamilton” and scanned the wine list, you may have noticed several “Lodi” wines are featured, even at the New York venue. It’s Lodi wine bottled under “The Federalist” label. Lodi Zinfandel is described as being “born from the virtues of every forward-thinking, hard-working, red-blooded American. The Federalist. This Is American Craft Wine.” Distributed by Terlato Wines of Illinois, “The Federalist wines are a tribute to our Founding Fathers: The Visionary and Bourbon Barrel-Aged Zinfandels feature Alexander Hamilton on the label, the Lodi Zinfandel features George Washington and the Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon features Ben Franklin.” Local winemakers don’t know much about the label, so the wine is probably made back East from Lodi grapes. Cheers!

FROM THE TOP: Despite strong opposition from law enforcement agencies across the state, the governor signed into law AB392, which prescribes when a peace officer may use deadly force. So what now? Will procedures change at LPD? “The officers of the Lodi Police Department will not alter the way they handle their business because of the passing of AB392. The men and woman of this department will continue to provide the best service in keeping our community and citizens safe from the evil in this world. We continue to train our officers in the most up-to-date de-escalation training in our profession, and I have every confidence in our officers to perform their job.” That’s Police Chief Tod Patterson’s official statement about the new California law. What he thinks of it is a different story.

MOO NEWS: Dale Gillespie tipped us off that local dairyman and pilot Jim Woods will be featured in “Half & Half” magazine, a periodical for the dairy business. Woods is one of the pilots who flies the “missing man” formation over local Memorial Day ceremonies each year.


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

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