By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Badge pinning, citizen honors at council session
esc city

Escalon’s regular City Council meeting on Monday night, May 20 featured some high-level praise, coming for the new police chief and a couple of citizens.

Recently appointed Police Chief Robert ‘Anthony’ Hardgraves, Jr. had it made official, as a badge pinning ceremony was conducted. His wife and two daughters were in the council chambers for the ceremony, one of his daughters pinning the new badge on him as chief.

His timeline with the city was also outlined. Interim City Manager Jaylen French noted that Hardgraves was hired as a police officer on March 1, 2005 and achieved Field Training Officer status in 2007. He was named an Acting Sergeant in 2011, promoted to Detective in 2016, then promoted to Sergeant in 2020. He served two stints as interim chief, once in 2023 and another earlier this year, prior to being appointed to the chief position at the May 6 council meeting.

Hardgraves is the 10th Escalon Police Chief since the city’s incorporation.

Several people in the audience on Monday evening were there for the badge pinning and Hardgraves was “officially” welcomed to the team, in his new capacity as chief.

The session also included special presentations for a couple of city residents.

Named as the Citizen of the Month was Juan Carlos Aviles, nominated for the honor due to his quick thinking on Jan. 30 of this year. The Escalon Post Office employee sprang into action when a customer experienced a cardiac event and was recognized for his life-saving decision.

Mayor David Bellinger presented a special certificate of recognition from the city, with Aviles asked to step to the podium. He received a standing ovation from those on the city council dais as well as from those in the crowd. Also making special presentations to Aviles for his actions were San Joaquin County Supervisor Robert Rickman and Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello.

“It is a big deal,” Rickman said, noting that in a world where most people tend to step back and shoot cell phone video of incidents, Aviles took action and saved a life.

Rickman presented a special certificate on behalf of the Board of Supervisors, recognizing Aviles for his heroism.

Mello echoed the sentiment.

“He got involved,” Mello said, in presenting Aviles with not only a certificate from the fire department but also a special 110th fire department anniversary challenge coin.

The evening also saw 13-year-old Caleb Kay honored.

He was recognized for his honesty. Detailing the incident, French said that, after finding a “significant amount of cash” in an unmarked envelope, Kay turned it in to the police department, rather than keeping it. Council members offered a certificate to Kay honoring him for his “great character” in doing the right thing by turning the money in to authorities.

Other business at the two-hour meeting included the annual City Transit Update from transit Manager John Andoh, along with an informational item from French regarding seeking applicants for two available positions on the Escalon Planning Commission.

Department reports for the month were submitted for review by the department heads and Public Works Superintendent Juston Collins offered thanks and kudos to his crew, recognizing them during National Public Works Week.