By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Review Of Top Stories From Year’s Second Half
Oakdale Music Boosters hosted its annual dinner on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the OHS Gym. Proceeds from the event benefit varying areas of the music education of Oakdale schools including the purchase of uniforms, shown here, for the Oakdale High Marching Band.

Elections, a momentous anniversary and some lives tragically lost were among the items topping the pages of The Oakdale Leader during the second half of the year. Following is a look back at those top stories from July through December.



After eyeballing the coffers six ways from Sunday, Oakdale City Council members approved the preliminary 2018-19 city budget at a late June meeting, prior to the July 1 start of the new fiscal year. Fire service remained at the center of the discussions as the decision was made to draw funds from the General Fund to cover funding for three fire positions at Fire Station 28 on G Street for the next year.

If the name Katherine “Kathy” Morgan rings a bell, you may recognize it as the name of a past City of Oakdale councilwoman. Though she spent over two decades in Oakdale, and currently resides in Escalon, she and her husband Gene Morgan considered their home in Leilani Estates to be their primary residence – that is, until Fissure 8 erupted on the island of Hawaii in May. The ensuing damage caused by the Kilauea volcano turned life upside down for many.

Friday night was all about memories. Remembering good times, remembering a sense of humor, remembering a unique individual. It was also about saying farewell much too soon to a Class of 2010 Oakdale High School graduate and standout athlete, both in football and wrestling. Charlie Gilstrap, 26, passed away late night Wednesday, July 4 as the result of a solo vehicle accident. A Friday night candlelight vigil, organized by several members of the Class of 2010, brought the community together to mourn his passing and celebrate his life.

Janice Bender won’t be taking a walk across the street for a pick-me-up any longer. The Oakdale Joint Unified School District employee made the trek to Starbucks from her South Third Avenue office one final time on Friday, June 29. That was the day which signified the end of her 28-year career with OJUSD.

Oakdale’s David F. Bush Library is offering fun ways to cool off during this summer heat. In July they have been hosting several different activities for all ages. During next week’s scheduled observance of Shark Week, July 23 through 28, they will be having a game each day where they hide a shark in the library. Youngsters are encouraged to find the lost shark in the library to win a prize. Also ongoing is the Summer Reading Club, which offers a variety of prizes based on the number of books read.

After an 18-month battle to acquire a 501(c)(3) designation, American Veterans First (AVF) has finally achieved their goal of becoming a tax-exempt public charity.

Rodin Farms has been a family affair since the 1940s, when Antoinette Rodin’s grandparents obtained the local ranch. They continued to farm, and Antoinette’s father took over the land to farm and followed in their footsteps. At age 18, Antoinette Rodin opened the renowned Rodin Farms Fruit Stand, located on the border area between Modesto and Riverbank.

In the 16 weeks leading up to November, Josh Harder, running to replace Jeff Denham in California’s10th Congressional District, has announced the launch of 16 town halls in 16 weeks across the district.



A $1.6 million street rehabilitation project along Magnolia Street in Oakdale is coming down the home stretch. And it’s good timing, as classes at Magnolia Elementary School – along with those on the rest of the campuses in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District – will resume for students on Thursday, Aug. 9.

The clothes have been collected, the dates are in place and with a little bit of much needed manpower, the inaugural Oakdale Community Closet event is set to go off without a hitch. The first time free event is set to take place on Saturday, Aug. 11 at Gene Bianchi Community Center between the hours of 9 1 p.m. Organizers Cherilyn Bairos, Amy Schiveley Velasco and Lisa Lucero Ballard have been busy the past two months collecting clothing for the event. To date the generosity of the community has filled close to two storage units.

Oakdale City Council Mayor Pat Paul opened the Monday evening meeting, Aug. 6 with a resignation from Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Dunlop. He is leaving Oakdale to relocate to Idaho. Legal counsel will come to council members at the next meeting to discuss replacement options, which may include a nomination as to avoid the cost of a special election.

Assemblyman Adam Gray is coordinating a rally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 20 at noon on the north steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento to protest the State water board’s plan to ‘hijack’ billions of gallons of water from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.

It started out with a video that Melissa Clark showed in her third grade classroom, three years ago. From then, it’s grown into a permanent change on Magnolia Elementary School’s campus – a change for the better. The idea is simple: put a bench on campus for lonely students to sit at when they need a friend.

In a rare visit to the Central Valley, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made stops in Modesto and Oakdale on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The Cowboy Capital of the World welcomed Perdue as part of a visit with U.S. Representative Jeff Denham, touching on agriculture and water issues. Escorted by California Highway Patrol cars into the Brichetto Ranch property off of Crane Road in Oakdale, Secretary Perdue and Congressman Denham, along with their entourage, made it to the property and began shaking hands with those in attendance.

It’s been 33 years since Dave Kline reported for a ‘first day of school’ at an Oakdale campus. The 1985 Oakdale High School alum, however, is back within the rotation as he recently reported for the job as Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources with Oakdale Joint Unified.

Farmers, laborers, students, citizens and even lawmakers opposed to a plan they believe will disrupt Northern California’s water supply demonstrated on the steps of the State Capitol on Monday, urging the State Water Resources Control Board to reject the proposal that would cut water use for the benefit of fish and wildlife.

Less than a week after his tragic passing, Troy Holder brought the community together. Not once, but twice. The 2014 Oakdale High School graduate died of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on Monday evening, Aug. 20 and on Friday night, Aug. 24, friends, family members and former classmates gathered for a candlelight vigil at the Quintanal Amphitheatre at the Oakdale Community Park. Several people spoke, his favorite songs were played and the crowd lifted their candles into the night sky in his memory.

Growth has not yet subsided, as the City of Oakdale continues to see a positive trend in the way of new construction. According to City of Oakdale Senior Building and Fire Inspector Brian Odom, the west side Bridle Ridge Development is just a handful of homes from being at build-out completion. It’s a project which will total out at over 1,000 homes in total.



A Labor Day drowning marred the long holiday weekend in the local area. The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Dive Team recovered the body of a 26-year-old Sunnyvale man who drowned at Woodward Reservoir on Monday afternoon.

Students of Oakdale High School are putting a positive spin on the anti-bullying movement. Three simple words, “Dude Be Nice,” have inspired a team of students to expand kindness and inclusion throughout the Mustang student body.

Thanks to the unanimous approval by Oakdale City Councilmembers at the Tuesday, Sept. 4 meeting, the Oakdale Police Department will soon have eyes in the sky as part of a high-tech crime prevention campaign, which will put high-definition cameras at key areas throughout the city.

Elected officials from all eight San Joaquin Valley counties will be meeting with the White House administration, and federal legislators, during the annual “Valley Voice” advocacy trip to Washington D.C. on Sept. 12 and 13. The delegation traveling to the nation’s capital is known as the San Joaquin Valley Regional Planning Agencies Policy Council (Policy Council), and represents the boards of each metropolitan planning organization (MPO or COG), and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Further court action is possible as Stanislaus County Supervisor Kristin Olsen faces a count of driving under the influence stemming from her arrest in Sacramento County on Sept. 12.

It has been 15 years since a small group of parents and community members gathered to create the Oakdale Educational Foundation. Since that day the 501c3 non-profit has generated and donated over $1.5 million back into the Oakdale Joint Unified School District.

It has been 125 years since the first graduating class earned its diplomas from Oakdale High School. A fact which is both notable and deserving of a proper celebration. To both honor as well as make the event memorable, a committee of close to one dozen alum, led by co-chairs Charlyn Bairos and Julia Haidlen, has spent the majority of the year planning for the125th Oakdale High School All Class Reunion, complete with events scheduled for Homecoming Week in mid-October.

With fireworks as the possible cause, multiple units from Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District responded to a fire under the bridge along North Yosemite Avenue just north of the Oakdale city limits on Sunday night.



It’s a message of acceptance and inclusion that is perhaps more important now than ever for Oakdale Junior High School students. In a day and age of social media, smartphones and online distractions, No One Eats Alone Day exposes students to engagement versus isolation.

The Oakdale Chamber of Commerce will host its Pours in Stores event in downtown Oakdale Thursday, Oct. 11from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Attendees will find a selection of wine or brews at each of the 17 participating merchants, close to doubling last year’s numbers.

The city streets are alive with color thanks to painted windows on the west end of town as Oakdale High School observes Homecoming Week. The addition of the campus marking its 125th Anniversary has created a special synergy as the past unites with the present. The window painting was done over the weekend by Mustang classes.

Voters in the Oakdale and Riverbank areas are encouraged to attend a couple of upcoming forums, hosted by the League of Women Voters. The organization is a nonpartisan political group that provides educational events for voters.

Close to 11 months of planning, an unspeakable amount of hours in meetings and 125 years of education came to a head Saturday night as the 125th Anniversary of Oakdale Union High School was celebrated in grand style at Oakdale Golf and Country Club.

Emerging from the dark times known as the “Great Recession” that necessitated the slashing of several city budgets down to the bone, Oakdale City Council members on Monday night approved a resolution to reinstate two lieutenant positions within the Oakdale Police Department. These were positions that’d been previously budgeted in years past but were axed when times got hard.

The CrossFit crew kicked off the month of October with a sort of challenge to both bring awareness, as well as raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness month. The objective simple, donation cans labeled with each coach’s name were set up. For every dollar dropped in each designated container, that coach will do a burpee in return.

Planes were coming and going with regularity on Saturday, as the Oakdale airport was the scene of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles Day event.

“We have about a half dozen planes flying today,” said EAA President Dennis Bailey. “They’re from Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale, Tracy, they come from all over.”

Some might say Maya Baza is living a “dream year.” In the day and age of celebrities, with adults and children alike proclaiming living their “best life,” the Oakdale 12-year-old is well on her way. Maya, an Oakdale Junior High School seventh grader, was named one of six winners earlier this year in a “Dream Big” Competition hosted by Claire’s, a worldwide fashion jewelry and accessory company.

Oakdale Police are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating a man that stole an SUV from a Burchell Hill neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 30. A child was inside the vehicle when it was taken but was later released unharmed.



Oakdale City Council members approved the final Fiscal Year budget on Monday night, Nov. 5 with a surplus of $206,476, ending on a positive note thanks in no small part to the contributions of Measure Y.

During Monday night’s monthly board meeting, Nov. 5, OJUSD Superintendent Marc Malone shared the progress as well as completion of 13 projects to date in the sixth year of the major facility movement. Improvements and projects made possible over the past six years due to collection of developer fees.

It became official late Tuesday afternoon: Democratic challenger Josh Harder has an insurmountable lead over incumbent Republican Congressman Jeff Denham in the race for Denham’s 10th Congressional District seat.

It was a simple idea that prompted a big response as Oakdale’s VFW and Auxiliary, Post 2922 hosted its Inaugural Veterans Day Parade on Monday, Nov. 12. The event began on Lee Avenue and traveled west down Pontiac Street to conclude at Fish Park.

Oakdale Joint Unified School District can add yet another kudo to its academic cap, as Fair Oaks sixth grader Joseph Yakligian was recently named Spelling Bee Champion for Stanislaus County.

The City of Oakdale finally opened the highly-anticipated Valley View River Access Trail, commemorating the grand event with Mayor Pat Paul, along with fellow city officials at a ribbon-cutting Monday, Nov. 19. The river access trail, made possible through a $1.2 million grant received in 2013 from the State of California Natural Resources Agency, California River Parkways Act of 2006 (Proposition 84), includes750 feet of trail with switchback sand stairs, interpretive kiosks, water fountain, shaded overlooks, and benches.

And just like that, the era has ended. The mood at the Gene Bianchi Community Center was anything but melancholy on Thanksgiving Day. Volunteers once again gathered and served up the 25th annual Spirit of Oakdale Community Dinner, just as they had for the 24 years preceding.



The Gene Bianchi Community Center was packed with well-wishers for the special council meeting hosted Monday evening, Dec. 10 as the City Clerk swore in newly elected Mayor J.R. McCarty, council members Cherilyn Bairos and Christopher Smith, and said goodbye to outgoing Mayor Pat Paul.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded four California projects $72.5 million in grants from its BUILD Transportation Discretionary Grant program, formerly known as TIGER grants. Among the projects in line for funding is the North County Corridor.

It has been 21 years since the Oakdale Lions Club first opened their hearts and wallets for the youth in need at Christmas time. On Wednesday, Dec. 12 the service club did what many might say they do best … continued the tradition of the Lions Club Annual Children’s Shopping Tour.

After a breakdown of discussions regarding flows on the Stanislaus River, the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts issued a joint statement and urge continued meetings prior to a state decision.

Just in the nick of time, a local toymaker – actually, a woodworker– made a special delivery to the Oakdale Police Department to help finish out gift bags being prepared for local youngsters. Oakdale resident Bob New hand delivered some three dozen homemade fire trucks to the department on Thursday, spending several months crafting the toys our of 4-by-4 blocks of wood.

ojhs 1.JPG
OJHS seventh grade Leadership Class members from left, Kyndra Obermeyer, Morgan Wright and Maya Baza sat among their classmates during the No One Eats Alone event hosted by the OJHS Leadership class on Sept. 28.
community closet.jpg
Oakdale Community Closet Committee members Amy Schiveley Velasco and Cherilyn Bairos show off a few of the new items donated for giveaway at the inaugural event on Saturday, Aug. 11. The clothing giveaway will be hosted at Gene Bianchi Community Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.