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Leader Looks Back At Top News, Local Events Of Year
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In early March, members from Oakdale Rotary and OHS Interact Club participated in the planting of 56 Redwood trees at the Oakdale School Farm.

Continuing with an annual tradition, the Year In Review for The Oakdale Leader kicks off this week, with a look at the top news stories and community events that filled the newspaper pages in the first half of 2018. Following is a recap of January through June, with the second half of the year, July to December, to be featured in the Jan. 2 issue.



The Stanislaus Council of Governments, Stan COG, is serving as the lead agency for preparing an Environmental Impact Report for the 2018 Regional Transportation Plan and a Sustainable Communities Strategy. The project will address all transportation modes including motor vehicles, transit (commuter and local), rail, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, aviation systems, goods movement by rail and freight, and more.

It’s been 20 years since a group of Rams pulled on a bib, grabbed some crackers and enjoyed a feed on some crab. The act began as a fundraising effort by the Oakdale Junior High School Parent Teacher Club and 20 years later it’s still going strong.

Local residents will have the chance to get information and offer their input on the city’s sign ordnance at a special workshop. The workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. and it will be hosted in the City of Oakdale Council Chambers at277 N. Second Ave.

Knights Ferry Community Club is offering the community the opportunity to take a bit of the Ferry home with them. On Saturday, Jan. 27 the social club will be hosting its first Paint Nite with the subject matter being the famed covered bridge. The by reservation event will be hosted at the Knights Ferry Community Club and will begin at 3 p.m. Tickets are$45 per artist, which includes all supplies as well as instruction. All skill levels welcome.

It’s been a long time coming – and there are still hoops to hop through – but cannabis is finally coming to a store near you in Oakdale, possibly as soon as March. Two companies, JDI Farms and MDS Business Services, beat out14 competitors in the race to be the first businesses to open store fronts within city limits following the recent state decision to legalize marijuana.

Oakdale educators and classified staff have once again settled on a contract to the pleasure of both agencies, as well as Oakdale Joint Unified School District.

In an effort to create more affordable housing within the city, Oakdale City Council members recently approved a 56-unit multi-family residential project submitted by Visionary Home Builders of California, which will include improvements on Pedersen Road and East J Street as part of their proposal.

It’s being billed as the ‘Battle of the Badges’ – a blood drive being sponsored by the Oakdale Police Department and scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8.  The drive is being hosted in conjunction with the American Red Cross, which is reporting blood supplies to be at ‘critically low’ levels. Each blood donation can help save up to three lives.

It’s a new day and a bit of a new beginning for Oakdale High’s 2018 Academic Decathlon Team. For the first time in 17 years the team will approach the 38th An­nual Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon minus the pressure of “the streak.” A 16-year long winning streak came to an end in 2017 when the team was defeated by the Hughson Huskies.



The trophy is back. On Saturday, Feb. 3 the Oakdale High School Academic Decathlon team made sure to respond properly to their 852-point loss against the Hughson Huskies in 2017 and they answered loudly, winning the title this year.

The two Oakdale Rotary clubs – Oakdale Noontime Rotary and Oakdale Sunrise Rotary – are joining forces to plan and put on a Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon.

Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul recently delivered the State of the City address to a lunchtime crowd at the Gene Bianchi Community Center, detailing the financial health and prospective growth of the city as it currently stands and going forward in 2018.

Some things have changed since Matt McDonald last roamed the halls as an Oakdale High School Mustang 20 years ago. The one thing most notable and most recent would be his recent addition as a staff member at his alma mater. At the start of the school year, McDonald brought his passion to OHS as the newest member of the Visual and Performing Arts Department.

Plans are underway for the125th reunion of Oakdale Joint Union High School; with a group of interested alums meeting recently to get the effort started and appoint committees.

Safety in Oakdale schools is at the forefront within the administration at Oakdale Joint Unified School District. While the recent tragedy in Florida may have parents and community members concerned regarding safety plans within the given school sites, the safety plan must be bigger than just being restricted to an incident of a school shooting. OJUSD Superintendent of Schools Marc Malone shared it is the responsibility of the district to ensure the campuses are prepared to handle emergency instances in all circumstances.

Creative Genetics has added its own unique spin to Oakdale’s famous title as “Cowboy Capital of the World.” Earlier this month the Oakdale-based business welcomed over 160 dairymen, their families, as well as agriculture professionals and journalists as they hosted the annual ProCross Open House.



The month of February wrapped up in an unforeseen manner for almond farmers throughout the Central Valley. An unprecedented stretch of freezing night time temperatures found many adjusting from watering the unseasonably dry ground, to utilizing water to adjust orchard temperatures.

An overcast morning proved to serve as perfect running weather for over 350 runners and walkers on Saturday, March10 as they joined in for the ninth annual SOS (Support Oakdale Schools) Fun Run.  The event was hosted at Cloverland Elementary School, attracting city officials, school district employees, as well as community members showing up to cheer on the participants.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is preparing to begin a highway improvement project that will repave 34 miles of State Route 108 and State Route120 in Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties.

Oakdale High School won’t be seeing a closed campus in its near future. Oakdale Joint Unified Assistant Superintendent Larry Mendonca offered an in depth report at the school board meeting earlier this month noting a variety of viable reasons to remain an open campus.



Spring is in the air and members of the Oakdale City Council are looking to spruce up the place by making some much-needed improvements to the city’s parks. Council members, at their April 2 session, approved two different resolutions to hire separate architectural companies to begin the process of sprucing up Kerr Park and building the highly anticipated Bridle Ridge Sports Park Gymnasium.

Love Oakdale is fast approaching and this year is part of a volunteer movement initiated in the Central Valley known as Love Our Cities. The event has been effective in bringing together the resources of people, non-profit and civic organizations, private businesses and city based-leadership and services to accomplish great things in and for the community.

Four students of Oakdale High School Interact Club are up to something big. The student affiliate of the Oakdale Rotary Club has taken on a first for the club by setting a goal of traveling to Vietnam this summer.

The amphitheater of Oakdale Community Park will soon be filled with music. Since its opening early last fall, the grant funded park has remained busy with children playing yet the north end has remained relatively quiet.

Vanetta Sipe has been going to the Oakdale Rodeo ever since she can remember. She continues to work at the family’s concession stand serving up corn dogs, cot­ton candy and other favorite fare.

Oakdale Junior High School will be receiving much needed improvements for the school’s multi-purpose room/cafeteria, thanks to developer fees and a unanimous vote Monday night at the Oakdale Joint Unified School Board meeting. Modernization of the multi-purpose room will begin Friday, May 25.



The Oakdale Farmer’s Market will be back for a new season starting later this month. Organizer Glen Earl said plans are to include more fresh produce, but they are also seeking vendors with farm fresh products, craft vendors, or local businesses to take part.

Teams of participants, cancer survivors, caregivers and those who have lost loved ones to the disease will take to the track for the 2018 Relay For Life this weekend. The 24-hour fundraising event for the American Cancer Society is a combined effort this year for Oakdale, Riverbank, Escalon and Waterford and runs from Saturday, May 5 until Sunday, May 6 on the soccer fields at Oakdale High School, 739 W. G St.

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, that was a message conveyed through theatrics as well as discussion on Tuesday, May 8 during the Drugstore Project. Over 800 fifth and sixth grade students spent the greater part of the day rotating through varying scenes, as well as education stations. The event is hosted at Fair Oaks Elementary School.

There are many things that Oakdale High School senior Jude Markel will need to think about this fall. How he covers his tuition for the University of the Pacific, however, is not one of them. Earlier this month the graduating senior learned of his selection as the 2018 recipient of the Leo Volz scholarship.

“High school’s been fun!” Those were the final words offered by Oakdale High School Valedictorian, Gabrielle Ceja and Salutatorian, Russell Pabalan as they concluded their interview with The Leader earlier this week. With finals well behind them, and in the midst of a week filled with rehearsals and celebratory activities, both students took some time to reflect upon their educational career at Oakdale Joint Unified as it comes to a close.

For one Oakdale family, milk is likely being served as part of their graduation party menu because their high school graduate is being recognized as a top student athlete on a special-edition Crystal Creamery milk carton. Sarah Bohrer, of Oakdale High School, is one of 49 recipients of the 2018 Dale Lacky Scholarships.

While Thursday, May 24 was Cecilia Calton’s last day as a kindergartener, it was also her first day seeing her mom in seven months. Regina Calton serves in the U.S. Air Force and, until just last week, had been deployed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There, Regina said that she worked as a logistics planner.

For the first time in 45 years, Jacque Armstrong has left an Oakdale Joint Unified School campus for the final time. Even more impressive is the fact that she has spent 57 years of her life connected to Oakdale Schools. The third generation Oakdalean completed her academic career in Oakdale schools, before moving on to Modesto Junior College. She was a child development major.



It’s a journey which Karen O’Bannon could not have possibly predicted 31 years ago, yet here she is. After 22 years as the Oak Valley Hospital District Family Support Network (FSN) Department Manager, O’Bannon has turned in her keys and called it a day. In late May and after several months of deliberation, O’Bannon has happily entered into the life of retirement.

With projected tough times on the horizon, city staff are entertaining uncomfortable choices in regards to public safety, mainly in staffing decisions related to fire services as evidenced by the public hearing held at the Monday night, June 4 Oakdale City Council meeting.

Bail has been set at $2 million for a Waterford man accused of murder in a hit and run accident that resulted in the death of an Oakdale man. Authorities reported the arrest of Rodrigo Joel Mendoza, 27, of Waterford in connection with the early morning crash on Saturday, June 2.

The first day of the 2018-2019 school year is most likely far from the front of parents’ minds in the third week of June. For Cherilyn Bairos and her small crew of volunteers, however, that could not be more the opposite. Bairos is the mastermind behind the Inaugural Oakdale Community Closet event planned for Saturday, Aug. 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The house at 131 W. G St. has long been a fixture in the Oakdale community, on the corner of Church and G, and it has now become home base for the Oakdale Rescue Mission, ORM.

The Oakdale Police Department recently partnered with AEGIS Modesto and the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District to train its officers on how to administer Nasal Naloxone (also known as Narcan) in an effort to prevent deaths from opiate overdoses.

One might say Breanne Stever is not dissimilar to most wives of men in uniform. Above all adjectives which may describe her, she is supportive of her husband, Oakdale K9 Officer Andrew Stever. Her support, however, has extended beyond the home as she is the mastermind behind the OPD K9 Dinner to be hosted this year on Saturday, July 28.

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Young Victoria Valenzuela, 3, tries to sneak a few ripe cherries from the bin at her family’s DePalma Farms booth at opening night of the Oakdale Farmers Market on Wednesday, May 9. The vendors are set up along North Third Avenue, between E and F streets and many of the businesses in that corridor are staying open late on market nights.