Everyone and their chihuahua was expecting the city council to choose the Pixley Basin site (east of Highway 99) to build the new homeless access center. Wrong. They chose Sacramento Street, in spite of a mountain of opposition to that spot.

Councilman Mark Chandler had to recuse himself because his wife Jan runs San Joaquin Sulphur, which her parents own, a couple doors down the street. Adjacent property owner Robin Knowlton spearheaded a campaign against landing the center on Sacramento Street. She and her group were able to gather dozens of signatures on a petition from residents and property owners in that vicinity, opposing the selection.

A public meeting two weeks ago found that most people in attendance favored the Pixley Basin site. Chandler said he was “appalled that the council didn’t listen to the public.” He added that council members were “totally tone deaf to the public.”

He also said the vote represented “the downside of districting,” noting that council members can more easily ignore public sentiment without fear of voter backlash because it doesn’t affect their district.

“It boggles the mind,” he said.

A private investment group has shown interest in the Sacramento Street property to build an indoor sports facility. It’s unclear if the group will continue to pursue purchasing the site following the city’s decision. Stay tuned.

TO THE RESCUE: Lodi House, the private non-profit organization meeting the needs of Lodi’s homeless women and children, will be receiving $846,000 from the American Rescue Act fund, according to Executive Director Shelby Young.

The money was allocated last week by county supervisors and will be used to buy a four-unit apartment building for transitional housing on Hilborn Street.

Young hopes to have the property in escrow shortly. The organization has additional transitional housing on Central Avenue along with a thrift store on Lodi Avenue. The organization was founded by Jim and Annette Murdaca in 1998. Young says the program is “all about building relationships” with homeless women and children, who are needing help.

MONEY TALKS: Last week we told you about a critical substitute teacher shortage at Lodi Unified. The day after our report was published the district board of trustees upped the pay by 30%, effective immediately. The raise is really a “bonus” for subbing, and is only good through the end of the year. Trustees will consider the issue at a meeting next week, according to board president Ron Freitas.

FOR THE WIN: Lodi resident and civil litigation attorney Russell Humphrey recently won the 37th annual Oregon State Senior Amateur Golf Championship. What made the win even sweeter is that Humphrey’s son Gavin, also a competitive junior golfer, was his caddie during the tournament. The 6-day tournament was held at Arrowhead Golf Club in Molalla, Oregon.

PAPAL VISIT: Lodi’s Ashley Buck, 23, is going to school at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Gaming, Austria, studying to get her master’s degree in education administration. She says students travel many places as part of the program. It was while she was in Rome that the director of student life asked if she would like to get front row tickets to see the Pope. Duh. Ashley not only got to sit close, but she also got to meet the Pope and have a picture snapped of the occasion. Her proud pop is Ron Buck, also of Lodi.

FIRE FUNDS: The Lodi Fire Department continues to loan personnel to CalFire in its fight against the local wildfires. There is still one engine and four engineers deployed in the fight. One division supervisor returned to town last week, according to Deputy Chief Ron Penix. With five people gone on assignment, the department has had to backfill shifts. And the overtime meter has been running. To date, about 6,602 hours of OT have been logged, costing approximately $323,498. The good news is the state will reimburse the city for those costs, says Penix.

SLOW, BUT SURE: Maybe you’ve noticed that progress at the Sunset Theater has been a bit slow. Owner Terry Clark says he’s waiting on building permits to be issued. He says the first permit to be issued will be for the new bakery, which will go where the old Alexander’s Bakery used to be. While the slab is being poured and work starts on the new building, he says the old theater marquee will begin.

Clark says they ran into a “glitch,” which required them to resubmit plans with major changes. His original intent was to use the renovated theater for multiple purposes, such as renting it out for charity events. But that would not allow him to keep the theater’s “non-conforming” structure status. Clark says he’s fine with the changes, which include redesigning the flooring and seating. “Not a big deal but it takes time,” he says.

FOR SALE: The old Henderson Bros building on Sacramento Street is up for sale, listed for $845k. The place has been shuttered for a while. The heating and air conditioning service still operates, which probably technically qualifies them as Lodi’s oldest continuing business in Lodi’s history. Henderson Bros. started in 1896 at 9 N. Sacrament St. It later moved to 21 S. Sacramento St., then finally to 217 S. Sacramento St. … The building at 108 E. Elm St. and the vacant lot next door are also listed for sale, $625k. The building currently houses a laundry. Back in the day, the Lodi Fish Market was located on the empty lot. It was just a hole-in-the-wall place that sold live bait and fresh fish (and live fish!). … The old Mert’s Radiator building, now Continental Muffler, at 230 E Lodi Avenue, is also for sale, listed for $625k.

ENVELOPE, PLEASE: Larry Underhill was recently elected to the Lodi Association of Realtors Hall of Fame. The honor is given out each year to a Realtor nominated and voted on by their peers. Underhill has been a local Realtor for more than 35 years, starting off at Schaffer, Suess and Boyd Realtors. … Site improvements are currently underway on the Tienda Square subdivision, located near the corner of Mills and Tienda. The new development will consist of nine single-family, residential lots. … Trail Coffee Roasters has opened next to Papapavlo’s Restaurant at the corner of School and Lockeford, according to their social media page. Corner Scone was slated to open a second location there, but backed out of the deal. Lodi is the coffee company’s third location. … Granted, we’re a little late to the party here, but Los Charros Birrieria Mexican Restaurant opened last year in the old El Topaz Restaurant building at 215 N. Cherokee. The place sat vacant for years.

REMEMBRANCE: We note the recent passing of Fred G. Heagarty, who died on Sept. 9 in Arizona. Fred owned and operated Heagarty-Fosen Furniture Interiors on Pine Street, across from City Hall (where Golden Bear physical therapy is now). In its heyday, it may have been the biggest furniture store in town. They would run half-off sales, calling it the “discount everyone understands.” His father, Fred Hegarty, had the store before him. Outgoing and gregarious, Fred was entertaining to be around. He is another of Lodi’s personalities from the past.


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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