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From Our Readers
Letters to Editor

Oakdale Irrigation District’s current legal entanglement over its on-farm conservation and fallowing program isn’t a surprise. The district was warned in 2015 that an environmental impact report had to be done before starting the program.

But three OID board members — Steve Webb, Herman Doornenbal and Gary Osmundson — voted this year to push the fallowing program forward without an EIR. Board member Gail Altieri and I wanted the environmental study, but we were outnumbered.

As expected, a legal action was filed to stop the fallowing program and its plan to sell diverted irrigation water to out-of-region buyers. Money from that sale was supposed to pay for the conservation program. On May 19 a Stanislaus County Superior Court judge ordered a preliminary injunction to halt the fallowing program and water sale, noting how the project may have significant adverse effects on our local environment.

The judge cited Department of Fish and Wildlife concerns and “a substantial issue as to whether groundwater levels within Oakdale Irrigation District will be substantially and adversely impacted.”

Now there are questions about whether OID already has sold that water, who authorized or cancelled that sale and why the public wasn’t allowed to comment on the deal. What will happen now to the farmers who signed up for the fallowing program?

Find out more by attending OID’s board meeting 9 a.m. June 7 or by contacting me at 985-3891, or online at

OID Director


Linda Santos


The Yerzykowicz Comet


(Editor’s Note: This was submitted as a letter by Tina Yerzy and Bob Yerzy, siblings of Fred Yerzy, a recent retiree from Oakdale Junior High School. Tina asked that it be shared with the community, as she was unable to read it at his retirement due to laryngitis.)


Dear Editor,

Today we have gathered here to honor and recognize those who have dedicated their lives to teaching. I for one, along with our brother Bob, who is teaching and living in China, want to especially recognize our baby brother who is miraculously retiring! It is a special time that our family and friends can come together to recognize a man who has had a glorious career of teaching the subject of science who has had a passion for science since his childhood, and has been able to share those mighty wonders of science over and over again throughout his career with such excitement, creativity and enthusiasm!

Not sure if everyone knows, but Fred developed his passion for science when he was only 6 years old. His son Scott, at age 13, wrote a paper for school about it called “the beginning of an astronomer.” (I think Scott may have had a little help from his grandma Mary Ann Yerzy)

I would like to share some short excerpts from this paper Scott wrote and paraphrase when appropriate…

“Fred became interested in science at the age of 6 when he saw in the night time sky his first comet. On that special night, Fred remarks: “I still get goose bumps just thinking about how our mom and dad and friends, specifically the Fritz Matthies family, who all stayed up almost all night with him, helped him to observe one of nature’s most awesome sights.

It was a cold and moonless October night, a little past midnight and way past Fred’s bedtime. He was shivering uncontrollably from excitement and temperatures barely in the forties. Fred remembers having a hard time holding our father’s binoculars still because his hands were shaking so much. Yet, when Fred saw this huge white misty-like tail from this comet stretched clear across the milky way galaxy, the cold and early morning dew on his shoes from the front lawn of the house did not matter anymore. The tail was so big and all the adults surrounding him were so excited, that Fred knew he had discovered something really amazing.

The very next day our parents called the nearby observatory, Mount Palomar, south of San Jose. When they confirmed the exact time Fred discovered this comet, they found out that he actually spotted the comet about 45 minutes before Kaoru Ikeya and Tsutomu Seki, who independently discovered this comet. Although Fred had missed naming this comet just by minutes, he was still so very excited about seeing his first comet. He didn’t care that he was the third person in the world to report this sighting.

Scott asked his dad what he would have named the comet, and Fred said that it would have been named “The Yerzykowicz comet of 1965.” This name came from our Prussian ancestral last name. Of course, the two people that first reported it called it “Ikeya-Seki”… we think they were Japanese and obviously not Prussian!

Since this special moment, Fred has been interested in all astronomical and atmospheric happenings and phenomenons, from solar eclipses around the world to meteor showers in the fall each year, to taking his family to meteor craters, flying to NASA’s spaceport in Florida, to learning about the latest space station news and monitoring each space shuttle rocket launch, to chasing tornadoes and funnel clouds in the spring, and tracking hurricanes in the Atlantic in the summer. To this day, Fred gets a thrill every time he looks up in the sky, day or night!”

After reading Scott’s paper, I can truly see how this has been Fred “true and blue” to this day! It’s exciting to see someone fulfill their dreams and be a success … and know he won’t stop here just because he is retiring, as I know he wants to take his passion further in science, and exchange and share his ideas yet at another level with scientists who share his scientific interests as well as with the community.

Having said all this about our baby brother, we want to acknowledge Fred’s family for all their love, support and patience they have shared with him throughout the years of his teaching career to help him to be a success! Special thanks go out to Fred’s wife, Ann Yerzy, his two sons, Collin and Scott Yerzy … this also includes the expansion of his family to include his lovely daughter-in-laws respectively, Margaret and Melinda, and all the grandchildren they have provided to be enjoyed by Grandpa Fred and Grandma Ann.

As his one and only sister, Tina, and his one and only brother, Robert, we wish our baby brother Fred, all the best in the days to come in his next journey and chapter in life.

Tina and Bob Yerzy