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City Makes Way Through 2007
In another busy year for Escalon, the City of Peaches and Cream, also known as 'the stepping stone' to Central California, marked its 50th anniversary of incorporation as a city in March. The city also welcomed new staff, lost some longtime residents, the Escalon Unified School District settled a contact with its employees, there were sports titles for school teams, honors for scholastic achievements, a new budget and planning for the future growth of the city and more. Here, we take a look back at some of the stories making news in the first half of the year, January through June. Next week, look for a review of July through December.


Cans, bottles, paper,'s all going into the recycling bins on the campuses of the Escalon Unified School District. "We really started when we came back from Thanksgiving break," explained Sandra Rodriguez, Director of Administrative Services. "It actually started with Dave Mantooth who, as our new Superintendent, set one of our focus goals to be more energy efficient." Rodriguez said the district has recycled motor oil at the bus garage for quite some time, but the paper, cardboard and other items have now been added to the list and the recycling program has gone district wide.

After being a Main Street staple for some four decades, the Bradley's Upholstery shop has closed its doors. Still planning to be active in the business, Jess Bradley will now be working out of his home on South Henry Road. "We've rented from five different people over the 40 years," Bradley said of having different landlords for his Main Street stop, located in the 1700 block across from the Main Street Park. Bradley first got involved in the business in the early 1980s, when his father had the shop but needed some extra help.

A job closer to home is what prompted Katie Kirkbride to apply for the new Code Enforcement Officer position with the Escalon Police Department, saving her from a commute to the Bay Area. She has traded in her work as a crime scene technician for one of determining whether a city or municipal code is being violated.

A former Escalon High student died at his Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina earlier this month and was buried at Burwood Cemetery in Escalon. Christopher Clark, 23, was a Lance Corporal in the Marines and served as a military policeman. He had served one tour of duty in Iraq and was getting ready to re-deploy with his unit later this month for a second tour. A spokesman at Camp Lejeune said Clark's death was listed as accidental and is under investigation.

Eager to serve and happy to be on the job. That's the basic assessment from all three of Escalon's newest firefighters as they settle in to their daily routine. One is a 40-hour position, the other two are shift positions, and all three are helping make sure the department is staffed 24-7. Jesse Miguel and Mike Rebensdorf are filling the shift slots; Bill Deslaurier has the 40-hour post.

Four first place finishes in the toughest pool at the Lloyd C. Engel Wrestling Tournament in Escalon helped the host team stand tall, as they beat out other top wrestlers in the region.

An early evening fire claimed the life of a longtime Escalon resident on Wednesday night, Jan. 17 as efforts to revive the man pulled from a smoky apartment on Baker Street failed. Kevin McGuire, 42, died as a result of the smoldering fire in his apartment in the Vintage Park complex at 1747 Baker St. in the city. He was the son of Larry and Elaine McGuire of Escalon

Escalon High senior Joey Machado was crowned Winter Homecoming King on Friday night, Jan. 26 before a capacity crowd in the gym. He was one of five candidates, chosen by the high school student body, with the senior class members alone casting ballots on those five to get the final count for King. Nominees for the honor, along with Machado, were Fernando Cruz, Brian French, Steve Largent and Brian Potter.

By a 5-0 vote, Escalon's City Council has enacted a 90-day moratorium on massage businesses coming in to the community. The unanimous action came as part of a special City Council meeting and workshop on Monday, Jan. 29. The new ordinance will be stricter, in hopes of avoiding problems of the past, which led to the arrest in late 2006 of two women at the Japanese Massage on Plaza Avenue, one on suspicion of prostitution and one on suspicion of conspiracy.


Expensive and unreliable PG&E power for the water treatment plant serving Escalon, Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy is prompting the South San Joaquin Irrigation District to go solar. A seven-acre solar array farm - which will be among the largest in California - is being planned adjacent to the state-of-the-art surface water treatment plant that opened 18 months ago. The plant is on Dodds Road near the base of Woodward Reservoir.

Middle College High School may have beaten Escalon out for the Small Schools honor at the San Joaquin County Academic Decathlon over the weekend...but Escalon swept the top three places in Honors scoring and had the best essay in the county. "We won 19 medals overall," said Academic Decathlon coach Ryan Young. "We did take second place in the Small Schools division and we had the top three scoring students in the entire county, that was pretty exciting." Escalon High junior Matt Heflin was the top scoring student in the competition, followed by senior Maggie Dunbar and sophomore Christina Wong.

Students at Van Allen Elementary School used to love playing on Mrs. Carr. Not the person, but the piece of playground equipment the late teacher/principal Muriel Carr donated to the school when she retired. Now dilapidated and out of code for safety reasons, the 'car' has been retired from the playground and instead will serve as a centerpiece for a new memorial garden being planned at the rural elementary site.

Seven JV Cougars and six varsity wrestlers were crowned as Trans-Valley League champions on Saturday, Feb. 10 at the league meet in Waterford. In addition, all 14 varsity wrestlers qualified to move on to the Small School Sections, set for Feb. 17 in Bret Harte.

The doctor was known as Cliff. Charles was known as Doc. And both men leave behind a wealth of friends, touching their respective communities in many ways. Escalon and Farmington were saddened this week with the deaths of two notable and longtime citizens, Dr. Clifford James 'Cliff' Haskin Jr. from Escalon and Charles Averal 'Doc' Alders of Farmington. Mr. Haskin passed away on Friday, Feb. 16, just two days shy of his 85th birthday. He lived in Escalon for many years and practiced medicine in the city from 1955 to 1990. Charles 'Doc' Alders passed away on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at the age of 93 and had lived in Farmington his entire life, leaving only to work in southern California for a few years during World War II.

Holiday traffic proved to be a boon to Escalon and Farmington firefighters, as crews turned out with their turnout boots and collected donations for the Firefighters 'Fill the Boot for Burns' effort.

Plenty of changes are ahead for Escalon, with the members of the Escalon City Council recently meeting in a special goal-setting workshop session. The meeting was on Tuesday, Feb. 20 and featured an overview of progress on goals set last year, as well as a look ahead to what needs to be done in the coming year. It also included, in closed session, a performance evaluation for Escalon City Manager Greg Greeson.

Junior Anthony Rodriguez is headed to the State Meet in wrestling. The lone survivor out of the weekend Masters Meet in Stockton, Rodriguez qualified in the 103-pound division and will represent Escalon on the mats at the State Meet in Bakersfield, March 2 and 3. "He went 5-2 and finished in seventh place so he qualified as a wild card," said head coach Derek Scott.


Pages were turning all over the Escalon Unified School District on Friday, March 2 as schools observed the Read Across America Day in celebration of the birthday of noted children's author Dr. Seuss. Though he died many years ago, Dr. Seuss would have turned 103 years old on Friday and schoolchildren marked the anniversary with a variety of celebrations at the local schools.

Monday will mark the 50th anniversary of Escalon's incorporation as a city. March 12, 1957 is the official incorporation date, though the issue was not approved the first time around. Newspaper records show that even when incorporation was approved, it was by a slim margin. In fact, an early issue of The Times in March, 1957 indicated that about 75 percent of the registered voters in the area turned out to cast their ballots on the incorporation issue. It passed with 260 votes in favor, 242 opposed.

With two losses in the opening rounds of the State Wrestling Meet in Bakersfield, Escalon junior Anthony Rodriguez closed out his highly successful wrestling season. Just in his second year with the sport, Rodriguez made it all the way to state, competing in the 105-pound division there.

To look at Mario Teles today, it's hard to believe he's less than a month removed from life-saving surgery. Teles received a kidney from his niece, Marcia De Lima, on Feb. 15, a gift that - in his eyes - is priceless. "For me, there are no words to thank her for what she did for me," Teles said. "We can pay her no money...but I so appreciate what she did and so happy she is here with us." His niece, 22, came to Escalon from Brazil last September, with one hope in mind - that she would be deemed a suitable donor for her uncle and be able to provide the kidney he so desperately needed.

With no agreement in sight, the two sides in the contract talks for Escalon Unified School District have gone to mediation. One session has already been held with the state appointed mediator, another is scheduled for Friday, April 13.

The Vines have long been a party spot for Escalon teens. Most parents know it. All the kids know it. But a Friday night party there, in the rural area between Escalon and Farmington, nearly took a tragic turn when an Escalon High School junior was stabbed during an altercation on March 16. Josh May, 17, is expected to make a full recovery, according to his father, Richard May. The case remains under investigation by the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department.

Escalon City Council members met in special session Monday night - briefly - and heard a call to extend a moratorium on medicinal marijuana dispensaries and mobile food vendors. The council is expected to vote to extend the previously enacted moratoriums at its Monday, April 2 meeting.

Escalon will officially kick off the spring baseball and softball season with Opening Ceremonies on Saturday, March 31 at the Hogan Park complex adjacent to the city's Community Center. This year marks the second year of the city's affiliation with the Babe Ruth program.


A full 20 pages long and designed to cover nearly every scenario that could occur, Escalon's City Council adopted a new comprehensive massage ordinance on Monday night. The council meeting featured the second reading and adoption of the ordinance, which will take effect in 30 days, in early May.

If you've got a few minutes, or hours, to spare, you can take the time to review the Draft Program Environmental Impact Report for the City of Escalon's Liberty Business Park. Comments are being taken on the report, which is available for review at City Hall and the Escalon Public Library. The comment period, when the report was made available for public review, began on March 14 and will run through April 28.

After months of legal wrangling and with an anticipated hearing date of today - April 11 - for possible license revocation, Escalon officials instead have announced the conclusion of the case against Japanese Massage, with the business owner agreeing to turn in his business license and leave town.

In just a little over a week on the job, Shane Johnson already feels as though he's found a home. The newest Escalon Police Department employee, Officer Johnson was sworn in to service on Monday, April 16 and spent his first week being "indoctrinated" into the city, meeting fellow employees and visiting the various departments.

Likening it to a death in the family, Escalon police and fire officials planned to turn out in force for the Tuesday, April 17 funeral service for fallen Ripon Police Department Officer Robert Winget. The services were scheduled on Tuesday morning, with a procession then taking the casket to Burwood Cemetery in Escalon for an afternoon burial. Winget, who had spent more than 35 years in law enforcement, died on Tuesday while patrolling the Stanislaus River on an ATV.

After a little more than a year in the job - and far short of his own five-year plan to be in California - Escalon Public Works Superintendent Les Saberniak is moving on. He has accepted a job in Texas, and will start there on April 23.


With two students placing in the top ten overall top scoring students, El Portal Middle School came away with a third place finish in the weekend's Academic Pentathlon Championship.

Temperatures soared to 95 degrees on Saturday, but the more than 1,400 people taking part in the sixth annual Relay for Life in Oakdale - including several residents of Escalon - didn't let that bother them as they circled the track to raise money in the fight against cancer.

In his first local appearance since ousting longtime incumbent Congressman Richard Pombo last November, freshman Congressman Jerry McNerney got a rousing introduction to Escalon on Friday, May 4.

Far exceeding all expectations, Escalon's Senior Day on Thursday, May 10 drew a huge crowd to the city's Community Center. There, the area's senior citizens got plenty of information on county and city services, health care, insurance, banking needs, nutrition and more. They were also treated to lunch, had transportation to and from the event provided if necessary, and spent the day enjoying each other's company in addition to gaining the valuable information.

Agreeing to a mediated settlement, a contract is now in place for many Escalon Unified School District employees. Approval came from the school board on May 8 and the settlement was also approved by a majority vote of the teachers.

After dropping a pair of games to Modesto Christian, Escalon's varsity baseball boys had to get back on track to finish the Trans-Valley League season strong. They did just that - and got some help from an unexpected source - in claiming the TVL title for the third consecutive year. Escalon did their part to win the crown by defeating Ripon in two games this week, and got some help when Ripon Christian knocked off MC, clearing the way for a Cougar title.

To say it was a banner week for Escalon tennis players would probably be a bit of an understatement. There was an all-Escalon final in the Trans-Valley League championships, then the Cougars went on to claim two titles in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Plus the team advanced to the semifinals in Section play as well.

Going on just his second year with the department, Matt Price has picked up the honor of being named Escalon's Police Officer of the Year. The award is given by a vote of peers and superiors in the police department and Price said he was speechless when he got the word.

They didn't get a hit until the fifth inning...but Escalon ended up giving Central Catholic almost more than they could withstand in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship game on Monday, May 28. When it was all over, the Raiders had won yet another section crown, but needed every run and every hit as they got past the stubborn Cougars, 10-8, in the game at Zupo Field in Lodi. Before a huge crowd at the ballpark, the game kicked off at 6:30 p.m. Monday evening and the Cougars were the visitors, getting the first chance to bat against the Western Athletic Conference champs. Escalon went in to the game as the Trans-Valley League champs, pitting the two top seeds against each other.


Amid the strains of 'Pomp and Circumstance,' members of the Class of 2007 entered Escalon Memorial Stadium on Friday night, June 1 for the 87th commencement exercise for Escalon High School. Taking their place in the chairs set up on Engel Field - home to many football victories - the class members celebrated another kind of victory, the completion of their high school years, and looked ahead to college, career and beyond.

When he took home a tiny cabbage plant in a small container in the middle of winter, little did nine-year-old Will Turner of Farmington know how big that little plant would grow. Surpassing all of his - and mom Jill Turner's - expectations, the cabbage was officially weighed at the local Big Boy Market on Friday, tipping the scales at 27.17 pounds.

There were classic cars, plenty of cucumbers, squash and onions, some jewelry and clothing, even locally produced honey, as the first Market on Main was staged in Escalon on Thursday, June 7. The weekly market will run each Thursday through Aug. 30, 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and a unique theme is being used each week.

In a unanimous vote on Monday night, June 18 Escalon City Council members approved the 2007-2008 budget for the city, with operating expenditures estimated at $4,023,722. Revenues are set at $4,095,874, resulting in a surplus of $72,152 for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Two neighborhoods were inundated with emergency services vehicles, lights and sirens blazing, on Wednesday afternoon. But, with no emergency in sight, crews instead pulled off to the curb, set up a barbecue grill and served up a hot dog dinner to the curious onlookers spilling out of nearby houses. The 'Neighborhood Visits' organized by the Escalon Police Department and featuring members of the Escalon Fire Department, Escalon Community Ambulance and Escalon Public Works Department kicked off for the season with stops in the California/Justin and Jill/Arroya areas on June 20.

Five of six Escalon players selected as All Stars traveled to the San Joaquin County All-Star Game on Friday, June 22, with the boys and girls games both played at San Joaquin Delta College. For the boys, Steve Largent and Cory Severson attended, while Jared August opted not to play. The three Lady Cougars named to the All Star team, Jen Costa, Carmen Dollarhide and Alex Murken, all suited up for the contest.