If you want to help homeless veterans, here’s your chance. Compassion Residio Services, which operates a shelter for homeless veterans just outside Lodi city limits, needs a van to help transport vets to medical appointments and other destinations.

Jennifer Lozo with the Lodi Elks Lodge has taken up the challenge and is seeking donations to meet the need. Compassion Residio is not only unique, but it may be the first of its kind in the nation, says Lozo. About 5% of the county’s homeless population are veterans, according to the 2019 Point-in-Time Count taken in January. Donations can be sent to Lozo at the Elks Lodge or directly to Compassion Residio. The shelter has other needs, but this one’s on the top of the list, says Lozo.

A REAL SAFETY CONCERN: Be afraid. Be very afraid, says the police chief. “Law enforcement cannot continue to save lives if our own lives and safety are being sacrificed.”

That’s a quote Lodi Police Chief Tod Patterson repeats when warning people to beware of Assembly bill 392 — a “use of deadly force” measure currently being considered by the state assembly.

“If an officer, who is facing a deadly force confrontation, hesitates because of concerns over this new assembly bill, this is putting our officers and citizens in grave danger,” he says. “The people of California should be concerned with their safety because of this assembly bill. I am concerned that officers will be injured or killed because they ‘hesitated’ … in a violent situation,” the chief warns.

The rate of violent crime is dramatically on the rise in California, and Chief Patterson believes it’s because criminals think police hands are tied.

“The people that we deal with in law enforcement are more brazen, mean and disrespectful each day because (society continues to) decrease the repercussions for committing crime and or victimizing people,” says Patterson.

REMEMBRANCE: Elvera Melby, who died last week, touched the lives of thousands. Mrs. Melby, as she was known to her students, left her mark on Lodi and so many people who fondly remember her.

She was a career educator at Lodi Unified School District, serving as dean of girls and then vice principal at Lodi Union High School, among other positions she held over the years. Former students remember her as a stickler for making sure girls’ hemlines didn’t extend below the knee.

“She helped shape many young women’s lives,” one of her former students recalls. “Mrs. Melby helped me through some tough times,” remembers another. Elvera was also a long time member of the city’s parks and recreation commission, serving for 20 years.

She is a Lodi Hall of Fame inductee. She was among those considered for the naming of a new park. Mrs. Melby dedicated her life to serving Lodi. No services have yet been scheduled, according to Collins Funeral Home.

PEDDLE POWER: Price Burlington is off and peddling his way across America to raise money in memory of his late son Carson. When we checked in with him, he said he was at an urgent care center in Tonopah, Nev., tending to sinus infection, but expects to be back on the road again soon.

Price had a ceremonial sendoff in Lodi, his hometown, about 10 days ago. The real trip began in San Ramon a few days later. Price will be riding his bicycle some 3,500 miles to Philadelphia and hopes to raise about $100,000 for the High-Fives Foundation, which supports “dreams of mountain action sports athletes.”

FLY BY: Every Memorial Day a local squadron of pilots perform a “missing man” fly-over for the ceremonies at both Cherokee Memorial and Lodi Memorial cemeteries. This year the pilots were Stan Helmle, Ken Cantrell, Dennis Holbrook, and Jim Woods. Pilot Bud Newhall circled above and assisted with radio communications, making sure the performance went smoothly. The group flies around, out of sight, for about 30 minutes, burning gas, until they get the signal that it’s their turn on stage. “Our prayer,” says Stan, “was, ‘Oh, Lord, don’t let us run out of fuel …” Prayer answered.

NOT FORGOTTEN: Phil Litts, Lt Col, USAF, Ret., wants to make sure we include the names of two other Lodi guys who were killed in action during the Vietnam conflict, but who were not mentioned in this space recently.

“Joel Willis was in my (high school) graduating class, ‘62, and we lost another classmate as well — Milton Oda. Milton was killed in Aug of ’72,” he says. “I’m a little embarrassed to say that I don’t know how many Lodi lives were lost in Vietnam” (that makes two of us), “and I’m sure there are more than the ones you mentioned in your column.” Sad, but true.

HOW WET WAS IT?: Well, folks, it seems there is no official rainfall record-keeping for Lodi, or at least none that we’ve been able to find. However, according to the online info site Wikipedia Lodi’s wettest year was 1983 with 35.4 inches, and the driest year was 1976 with 7.18 inches. The most rainfall in one month was 15.01 in January, 1911.The city used to be the (un)official record-keeper, but no longer. The weather station at Lodi fire station 3 on Ham Lane was taken down at least five years ago, says Fire Chief Gene Stoddart. However, there are several other weather stations in the area reporting rainfall totals. One of them is Dr. Sweeney’s Lodi Lake Weather website. Another is hosted by the Lodi Wine Commission which has rain gauges scattered across rural Lodi. However, their rain totals don’t agree. Dr. Sweeney’s shows a year-to-date total of 32 inches. The Commission says Lodi’s total rainfall this season is about 21 inches, not a small difference. So there you have it, Jim Decker.

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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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