By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Year-In-Review Concludes: July To December Look
Oakdale Mayor JR McCarty, left, and Modesto Fire Chief Alan Ernst are all smiles as McCarty officially passes Ernst the ‘key’ outside the East G Street firehouse on Monday morning, July 1. Modesto Fire has taken over fire services for Oakdale city proper and Oakdale Fire Protection District. Marg Jackson/The Leader

From the oppressive heat of summer to the many community events centered around the holiday season, the second half of the year featured a number of notable events. This week, we present the second half of the 2019 Year-In-Review for The Oakdale Leader, covering the months from July to December.



With many thanks to Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District and its firefighters for many years of dedicated service, the City of Oakdale and Oakdale Fire Protection District entered a new era on Monday, July 1. The ceremonial ‘passing of the key’ was made to Modesto Fire Chief Alan Ernst, as the new contract for fire services took effect. Modesto Fire is now serving Oakdale city proper and the rural area of Oakdale Fire Protection District, including Knights Ferry and Valley Home.

Larry Garcia was born and raised in Oakdale and still operates a landscaping business here. But the earth beneath his feet gave him cause for pause on July 5 – as he was at property he owns in Trona, not far from the epicenter of the 7.1 earthquake that hit Southern California last Friday night.

“Trona is about 21 miles from Ridgecrest and the epicenter was between both towns,” Garcia, who lives on Stearns Road in Oakdale, said on Monday night.

In an effort to educate community members for the impending ramifications of a dangerous wildfire season, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors and the City of Oakdale in partnership with Cal Fire, Modesto Fire Department, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office and Oakdale Police Department held a community meeting Monday, July 15 at the Bianchi Center to discuss fire safety and evacuation preparedness.

After nearly four decades of living in Oakdale, Dr. Douglas Patten and his wife Martha are trading in the Cowboy Capital for South America. At least for 18 months. A longtime optometrist in town, Dr. Patten said he and his wife have wanted to do mission work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for some time and now seems to be the right time to do it.

Temperatures rose on Sunday, July 21 … and so did tempers … as the last night of the 2019 edition of the Stanislaus County Fair in Turlock was marred by a huge melee that resulted in several arrests and injuries to some Stanislaus County deputies.

While authorities had reported a relatively peaceful fair up until that point overall, the shutting down of a beer booth earlier than normal seemed to spark the trouble.

Cornhole is about to make its way to Oakdale. The popular family barbecue, bean bag throwing game will make a stop at the Orange Blossom home of Kristy and John Marcella on Saturday, Aug. 10. The Marcella’s, however, will not be hosting the games as a private party, instead they have opened their property to Team Gallo/G3 to host the inaugural Best Buddies Cornhole Tournament.

“We try and get after two major fundraisings a year,” Christine Gauthier Gallo, team member and co-captain of Best Buddies Gallo/G3 Team, shared. “This year the cornhole is new to us.”



A lot of music has been played in the amphitheater of River Oak Grace Church. This Saturday, Aug. 10 Senior Pastor Korey Buchanek and his team are taking it “next level” as they take the annual concert series from several Fridays throughout summer to a one day festival with well-known Christian pop artists Unspoken as the headliner.

Massage therapists flocked to the Monday evening Oakdale City Council meeting, Aug. 5 to express their concern regarding the ongoing debate on how to prevent another “Island Spa” situation from happening in Oakdale. Ultimately, the proposed amendments failed, sending the issue back to the prospective agencies for further study. The amendment failed 3-2.

The Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board gathered for its first meeting of the 2019-20 school year on Monday night, Aug. 12 and enjoyed a short and sweet, drama-free evening.

Highlights included members of the Future Farmers of America getting recognized for their champion marketing team.

A lengthy investigation and evidence has led to arrest of Tyler Newman, 25, of Modesto in connection with a case of vehicle theft, kidnapping, child endangerment and other crimes stemming from an incident last October in the Burchell Hill neighborhood.

On Oct. 30, 2018, Oakdale Police responded to the 1300 block of Cindy Drive in the Burchell Hill neighborhood to investigate a report of a black Toyota 4Runner being stolen with a six-year-old child in the rear seat. The suspect released the child a short distance away and continued to drive off in the stolen SUV.

By the time the last glass of lemonade had been poured and the final cookie purchased, Millie Cox and her little lemonade stand had had a day for the ages.

The eight-year-old Valley Home School third grader, buoyed by support from family, friends, the community and plenty of first responders, raised some $1,420 in roughly 90 minutes on Friday. It probably didn’t hurt that temperatures were in the triple digit range … but it’s likely the crowd would have come out no matter what the weather.

There’s a big change coming to the north end of Oakdale.

River Oak Grace Church Senior Pastor Korey Buchanek could not be more excited for the construction to begin on the 12,000 square foot Children’s Ministry Building.

This past Sunday, Aug. 25 church leaders were surrounded by youth and church members as a ceremonial “ground breaking” was held. Actual construction is set to begin by mid-September.



Kim and Lori Contreras are trend watchers. It’s a fact which might surprise most about the Oakdale couple, who’ve been active in the community for close to three decades. It is also a fact which has helped the couple sustain a local business for 25 years.

This October will mark the 25th anniversary of the family-owned and operated Oak Valley Jewelers. A business which first began in 1994 in the Kmart shopping center and has been in the SaveMart (Foothill Oaks) Shopping Plaza since July of 2000.

Closing the books on a three-decade career in law enforcement, Lt. Joe Carrillo has retired from the Oakdale Police Department.

He spent 28 years with Oakdale, after initially starting his career with the Stanislaus County Marshall’s Office. He spent two years there, working around the court system and then moved on to Oakdale, going to work for his hometown police department.

Oakdale Police said that an early morning collision on Friday, Sept. 13 involved a stolen vehicle. The crash, along Albers Road north of Patterson Road in Oakdale just after 6:15 a.m. Friday, resulted in a fatality.

This fall will look a bit different for Betsy (Stueve) Townsend and her crew at Bloomingcamp Ranch. Now entering her third season of managing the pie shop as well as the grounds she shared she’s embracing the change as it comes.

The change comes by way of a void, which Townsend hopes will be one which is temporary. In 2019 there will be no Harvest Festival at Bloomingcamp Ranch. It is an announcement which did not come easy for Townsend, yet circumstances beyond her control have made it necessary.

An unnecessary scare rapidly traveled through Oakdale Junior High School last Tuesday, Sept. 17. For some the fear began Monday night. The cause? A threat. The source? A social media post not made by an OJHS student or even a Merced Unified student, as some rumors indicated.

The mayhem and unnecessary fear was generated by an Oakdale High School student via snapchat. The motive, even more unbelievable than the chaos it created. Stage a fake snapchat post, show mom, and stay home from school Tuesday as a result of parental fear.



As they have in the past, Oakdale Police and Blue Line Wives are joining with almost 400 other police agencies across the nation this October by participating in the “Pink Patch Project.”

A small army of volunteers concerned about veterans who are homeless or down on their luck gathered recently in Modesto to assemble backpacks choked with personal items to be distributed at the upcoming fourth annual Veterans Stand Down.

Among those who turned out in preparation for the Oct. 31 event at Modesto’s Graceada Park were members of the Royal Neighbors’ Riverbank Chapter #9890 from Oakdale and Riverbank.

The list is long, the work eminent, yet the volunteer board, as well as management of Oakdale Citizens Cemetery, OCC, is determined to make it right.

Contrary to what the perception has been, the board overseeing the 501c(13) would like nothing more than for the grounds to be pristine and its patrons to be pleased. There’s just one problem – lack of funds.

Oakdale’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Romain Schell Post 2922 is planning a Corn Hole Tournament and Family Fun Day in Oakdale on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Red Park, 1717 Greger St., from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Oakdale City Council members approved the final Fiscal Year 2018-2019 budget with a healthy reserve, showing the General Fund growing by $209,335, closing out the current year with a 44 percent reserve at $5.3 million.

According to City Manager Bryan Whitemyer, the positive increase has managed to maintain the City Council’s reserve goal of 40 percent, thanks in large part to the contributions of Measure Y.

There’s very little left in this town, which the Oakdale Lions Club hasn’t touched or impacted.

From the flags which line the streets on national holidays, to pancakes served for varying functions or the keeping of the time at the clock tower at the main intersection of town – one can simply thank a Lion.



The Oakdale City Police Department K9 division is growing by three more four-legged officers.

City Council members unanimously approved the purchase order from Top Dog Police K9 Training and Consulting in the amount of $34,896.25 at the Monday, Nov. 4 meeting.

Continuing a half-cent sales tax, voters in Oakdale overwhelmingly approved Measure H with nearly 74 percent of the vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The vote extends the existing half-cent sales tax in the city.

Money from the measure is earmarked primarily for public safety, including police services, as well as street sweeping and some senior citizen programs.

As community members may be giving thought to their Thanksgiving feasts, members of the Oakdale Enrichment Society are not just counting their blessings but preparing for the Third Annual Christmas Parade.

No one likes the idea of someone going hungry, most especially during the holiday season. Fortunately for those living through hard times or coming up short in the 95361, Oakdale Community Sharing continues to offer food to recipients weekly. The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are no different.

Authorities reported the death of a Modesto man on Sunday morning, Nov. 17 in a crash that occurred east of Oakdale.

According to the California High Patrol, the accident occurred on Highway 108 east of Lancaster Road about 8:45 a.m.

Looking to bring the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV banner back to The Corral, the Oakdale Mustangs will face off with the Sierra Timberwolves for the title on Saturday, Nov. 30.

Oakdale, the No. 2 seed in the division, put a 51-27 decision on the books Friday night, Nov. 22 against visiting Merced, the No. 6 seed.



The community of Oakdale has once again benefitted from the selflessness of others.

As the Spirit of Oakdale celebrated its 26th year of Thanksgiving dinner service, the Oakdale Lions Club got a crash course in turkey carving, mass mashed potato making and dinner service.

It was a standing room only crowd the evening of Monday, Dec. 9 as the Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board convened for their monthly meeting.

The evening’s business began with an action item pertinent to monthly board operations. Board President Mike House noted the end of his term as President and called for board action to elect a new member to the seat.

A little worldly competition has made its way to the east side of town, but it’s not at the rodeo grounds.

As a matter of fact, it could not be more opposite than the grounds which have made the Cowboy Capital so well known.

The competition comes by way of the Sierra View Elementary School Robotics Club, which is participating in the Wonder League Robotics Competition. Wonder League Robotics Competition allows the students to compete against over 35,000 kids from 69 different countries. A feat which not only has the students excited, but motivated to spend two days a week meeting with their club each week after school.

With events like ‘Coffee with a Soldier’, which was hosted at the Oakdale Starbucks at 325 E. F St., recently, the local Mid-Cal Blue Star Moms want to keep military members in the hearts and minds of those in the community.

As part of the special event, active duty personnel from the U.S. Army recruiting office in Modesto made a stop in Oakdale to serve up coffee, samples of sweet treats and some smiles for Starbucks customers.

A group of students take their robot on a test drive to check their coding and programming, before they video their results for Wonder League submission. Teresa Hammond/The Leader
Millie Cox, left, and friend Ashlan McCurley were busy on Friday afternoon, manning Millie’s Lemonade Stand in Valley Home, raising over $1,400 for the HONORBANDS organization to recognize law enforcement officers lost in the line of duty. Marg Jackson/The Leader