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First Half Of 2019 Features Community News As Focus
Oakdale Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, from left, sisters Vickie, Vivian and Valrie Thompson will be honored during the Annual Awards Night on Friday, Jan. 18 for their countless contributions toward the community both professionally and personally. Photo Contributed

From lifetime achievers to the Academic Decathlon, there were plenty of local residents and events in the news, reported in the pages of The Oakdale Leader. This week, we begin our look back at the top stories from the year, January through June. Next week, the review will continue with the second half of 2019.



Law enforcement personnel from multiple agencies will be recognized at a special luncheon, set for Wednesday, Jan. 9 in Oakdale. Spokesman Marcus Haney said plans are moving along smoothly and he is encouraged by the “growing community response” to the upcoming event.

One would be hard pressed to recall a time when the Thompson sisters weren’t giving back to the community of Oakdale. To hear the trio: Vivian, Valrie and Vickie speak of their Oakdale upbringing it quickly becomes apparent, they were born and raised to serve. Perhaps it’s this fact, which leaves little surprise that the three sisters have been chosen as the most recent recipients of the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award. The sisters will receive the award during the Annual Awards Night to be hosted Friday, Jan. 18 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center.

An injunction request was filed in Tuolumne County Superior Court on Thursday, Jan. 10 against the State Water Resources Control Board over its proposed Bay-Delta Phase 1 unimpaired flow proposal, adopted Dec. 12, 2018. The plaintiffs are OID, SSJID, the Turlock Irrigation District, and the City and County of San Francisco. The Modesto Irrigation District also filed a similar suit.

In honor of National Law Enforcement Day, local service organizations came together on Wednesday, Jan. 9 to host a luncheon to show their appreciation of the men and women who serve the community in some capacity with a law enforcement agency.

It’s not every day that one decides to put their life on hold to “take a hike.” Perhaps in the movies, in a documentary or in the name of raising awareness for a certain cause one might learn of such an act. For Oakdale’s James Evans, however, that day did indeed come, but it did require a bit of thought, consideration and even a bit of planning. Evans, along with childhood friend Anthony Trujillo of Monterey, placed their lives on hold to take on the challenge of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, PCT. It was a feat which took them a total of 2,650 miles on foot from Campo, California to Manning Park, Canada. It’s estimated to hike the PCT can take between four to six months. The Oakdale High School Class of 2010 graduates completed the journey just a day short of five months.

Frustrated by what they felt were troubling examples of disrespect on the part of Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District (SCFPD), Oakdale City Council members discussed the decision to either cut ties or renegotiate the terms of their fire service agreement at the Tuesday, Jan. 22 meeting.



Oakdale High School has once again proven victorious in the area of academics, as the OHS Aca Dec team earned a first runner-up position in the 39th Annual Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon hosted on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Johansen High School.

The competing team of Ryan Kummer, Jean Pagaduan, Caroline Krum, Tayler Downing, Jacob Smith, Jaime Cuevas, John Creech, Chris Cerda and Jaden Alvarez also proved ready for the pressure of ‘live’ testing as they secured the First Place honor as the Super Quiz Winner.

Through a highly competitive grant program and with assistance from StanCOG, the Stanislaus Council of Governments, the City of Oakdale was recently awarded a $700,000 grant from the State funded Active Transportation Program.

The granted project is referred to as the High School G Street Bike and Pedestrian Corridor Improvement project. With the combination of pedestrian, bicycles, and high level of vehicle traffic near Oakdale High School, city officials said it was important to make this section of G Street a priority.

There’s a novel waiting to be written and the subject of its contents sits just east of the main intersection at 401 E. F St., Oakdale. The old brick building which occupies one city block has been home to the H-B Saloon since 1952. On Friday, Feb. 22 the Bacigalupi family will celebrate 80 years of slinging drinks to the community of Oakdale, as well as tourists spanning the globe who have made a stop at the local establishment.

A little rain and a bit of thunder didn’t dampen the spirits or the fun of the Knights Ferry Bobcats this past Friday, as arcade fun was had by the entire student body. On Friday, Feb. 15 the third and fourth grade classes under the leadership of teachers Kimberly McCarthy and Heather Stevenot hosted the campus to an afternoon of arcade games as a result of a most recent lesson in force and motion.

Art is alive and well at Oakdale High School. To make this fact not only more apparent, but available to the community the Oakdale High School art department will once again host a special ‘OHS Evening of the Arts’ program. Back for a second year, the show is planned for this Friday, March 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The free event is open to the public and will be hosted in the OHS Small Gymnasium.



A combined number of Get Fit Oakdale trainers, members, community residents as well as owners Bear and Allison Walters gathered this past Saturday with one simple goal in mind: raise some money via an event called the Heat. The first time event was an effort to help gym members and local firefighters Daniel Suarez, Doug Rice and Scott Hall with their fundraising goals for the ‘Big Climb’ happening later this month in Seattle. The Big Climb is an annual event hosted by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to raise funds as well as awareness for the blood cancer which has affected close to 1.5 million people.

A billboard on Highway 120 as you head into Oakdale from Escalon announces that the Oakdale Tourism and Visitors Bureau is now operating a Visitors Center. It has been a long time coming and OTVB President/CEO Pam Dumas said she couldn’t be happier with the location or the opportunity to showcase everything Oakdale. The Visitors Center is in the River Road Plaza, 7450 River Road, Suite 6, at the intersection of Highway 120 and River Road.

Central Valley native Karen Warner has found her way back to her roots. The Oakdale High School graduate currently serves as freshman Congressman Josh Harder’s District Director for the US House of Representatives. It will be 13 years this May since Warner exited the Corral as an Oakdale High School graduate. It is an achievement, she recently shared helped shape her for the many opportunities which followed.

A few unsettling moments for residents in the area on Monday afternoon, as the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad was called to Rodden Road, just east of the Highway 120-River Road-Rodden Road intersection to investigate suspicious, potentially explosive, items. Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Royjindar Singh said the call came in about 4 p.m., after California Highway Patrol officers responded to the scene to check out a complaint.

A pair of Oakdale High School students are going on to represent the Cowboy Capital at a higher level within the agricultural community. Local Future Farmers of America members, OHS juniors Tatyn Silva and Caleb Bairos, were recently elected by their peers as Regional FFA Officers.

Graduating seniors of the Central Valley may not have to travel far for their continued education this spring. Oakdale High School alum Michelle Scott recently opened Elements School of Massage. Located at 202 N. Second Ave., Oakdale, the school will begin its first session in early June of this year.



Oakdale Joint Unified School District has once again proven that brains are equal to brawn within the zip code and that starts young. On Saturday, March 30 Oakdale left a definite dent on the medal as well as the trophy count during the 22nd Annual Stanislaus County Elementary Science Olympiad. Fair Oaks proved to be stacked with scientists as they advanced up two spots from last year’s third place win, to be named the overall winner this year, bringing home the first place trophy.

Community members campaigning to save the local WET (Water Exercise Together) program were one step closer to potential victory as Oakdale City Council members approved a resolution Monday evening, April 1 greenlighting a possible site for the future indoor pool construction currently in discussion between the city and the Oak Valley Hospital District.

Authorities have released the identity of a woman found in her vehicle early morning Monday, north of Woodward Reservoir. She was identified as Beranea Moreno, 25, of Lodi and officials said she was the victim of a homicide. Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department officials said they were contacted by Oakdale Police about 2 a.m. Monday, April 8, after the OPD was informed of a body in a vehicle along Milton Road, near the intersection with Highway 4, north of Woodward Reservoir.

A special meeting of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District Board of Directors is scheduled for Thursday, April 18. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Station 26 Meeting Room at 3318 Topeka St., Riverbank. After the call to order, roll call, Pledge of Allegiance and approval of the agenda, the floor will be opened for public comment. That can include topics not on the agenda, however the board cannot take any action on non-agendized items.

There wasn’t a shortage of people – or activities – in Oakdale over the past week, as the annual PRCA Rodeo came to town. From the businessman’s roping to the Queen coronation, the parade to the competition and the always sold-out Cowgirl Luncheon, the week was packed with events. At the rodeo itself, people enjoyed not only the competition in the arena but the chance to peruse the various booths, eat some food served up by multiple vendors, including the Orange Blossom 4-H, and cheer for their favorite cowboys and cowgirls.



The Oakdale City Council voted last week to discontinue negotiations with the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District and prepared to take back operation of the fire department in the city. The vote came in a special meeting on Wednesday, May 8, just one day before the scheduled SCFPD board meeting. In a report to the council, the 2+2 Fire Services Committee, made up of representatives of the city and the Rural Fire District board, suggested three options for council action. The committee suggested either creating a joint rural/city fire department, or contracting for fire services with other agencies or maintaining a partnership with SCFPD.

Medallion Farms, a commercial cannabis cultivating and processing operation currently applying for a use permit and development agreement from the Stanislaus County Department of Planning and Community Development, met with concerned Valley Home residents Tuesday, May 7 in the hopes of allaying fears with education but met with a solid wall of opposition. According to documents, the Lon-Dale Road project would construct six greenhouse buildings, 5,554 square feet each, for cultivation and a 3,984 square foot processing building, which totals 37,248 square feet of building space. The processing building would include rooms for drying, curing processing, packaging, secure transfer, waste destruction, safe room and cold storage. The processing building would also include administrative space.

Skies were bright blue on Saturday morning, May 18 but the storm clouds rolled in a little later in the day and the weather continued to be problematic on Sunday, forcing an early closure for this year’s edition of the Oakdale Chocolate Festival. Presented each year by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce, the event draws in visitors from throughout the state for the festivities, which include music, vendors, food, rides and games, and chocolate in a variety of forms.

With opening day right around the corner, Royse Memorial Pool in Oakdale has made some changes to the facility. Along with revamping the pool house and changing up their concessions menu, pool program officials have decided to add an extra hour for certain patrons. Sensory Swim Saturday is not a new concept for pools, but it’s something fresh for Oakdale. After hearing about the concept at an Aquatics Roundtable – a place where local aquatic management from around the county would meet and talk about pool safety, staff, and regulations – the Parks and Recreation department decided to add it on to their summer program.



Something so simple, yet impactful at the same time, caught the attention of Oakdale’s Bill Scharton and was recently celebrated by the Oakdale Lions Club. During the May Lions meeting, Scharton stopped by with 21 gallon containers filled with ‘pop-tabs.’ A collection which began four years ago, finally found a home and as a result will be taken to a recycle center. The cash collected from the donation will then be donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

The Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District board voted on Thursday, June 6 to eliminate 21 positions from its department, equivalent to the staff levels it maintained while covering the Oakdale area. The action came following decisions by the Oakdale City Council and the Oakdale Fire Protection District Board that withdrew from its contract with SCFPD, voted at the end of May.

As Valley temperatures begin to rise, so does the number of visitors to the Stanislaus River. And while the setting is beautiful it can also be dangerous.

“My really firm statement is cold, swift, water needs to be respected,” Knights Ferry Recreation Park Manager with the Army Corps of Engineers, Heather Wright shared.

Maintaining river safety, as well as educating visitors about the water is something Wright and her team takes seriously. As someone who enjoyed the river herself in her youth, Wright feels it’s important for people to understand this is not the same river of 30 years ago.

Area veterans will have a chance to receive firsthand information on local veterans services and issues, including the Veterans Administrations’ new Mission program which went into effect June 6, when the Veterans Advisory Commission (VAC) for the county’s Board of Supervisors hosts its June monthly meeting in Oakdale. The VAC was established by the county in 2012 to address local veteran concerns and issues, and as a way for county and government agencies to exchange information vital to area veterans.

With wildfire season here and more hot weather in the forecast, Pacific Gas and Electric Company is sending postcards to more than 240,000 customers encouraging them to update their mobile number, email and other key information so the company can contact them in advance should it become necessary to temporarily turn off power for safety this fire season.

The spirit of independence has made its way to Oakdale. As ‘Safe and Sane’ firework booths have begun to set up for sales and barbecue plans start to unfold, the Oakdale Enrichment Society is busy with final preparations for the Inaugural Fourth of July Celebration. The event, which will be hosted this Saturday, June 29 will begin with a parade starting at 6 p.m.

Proving to be budding scientists, Fair Oaks Elementary School earned the top honor as the First Place team at the 22nd Annual Stanislaus County Science Olympiad. The team came home with not only a championship win, but a total of nine individual medals as well. Photo Contributed
Oakdale High School Valedictorian Ethan Brown, left, and Salutatorian Jean Pagaduan will take to the mic Friday, May 24 as the speakers of honor for the OHS graduation. Teresa Hammond/The Leader