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County Issues In Focus
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Escalon may be one of the smaller communities in San Joaquin County, but that doesn't mean it is forgotten.

That was part of the message that county officials brought when they hosted a Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday evening, July 7 at the Escalon Library.

San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore, Lieutenant Tom Desmarais and County Supervisor Ken Vogel of the Fourth District, which includes Escalon, met with residents in the informal session.

There were presentations by all, followed by a question and answer period that touched on a variety of topics.

Moore talked about plans for expanding the jail, Vogel dealt primarily with the budget issues facing the county and Desmarais provided information about the calls for service in and around the Escalon area.

Vogel said the handful of residents turning out was both good and bad.

"A lot of times we're not overrun unless there's some kind of hot issue," he said, noting that the small turnout meant there wasn't really anything pressing at the moment for Escalon, but he wished more people would have taken advantage of the meeting.

"Our biggest issue in the county s the budget, we have a balanced budget that is passed," Vogel said.

But that didn't come without some layoffs, not filling positions currently vacant and making cuts in a number of individual department budgets.

"The supervisors are taking good care of your money," Moore said in his opening remarks to the crowd. "For 2009-2010, at this point, barring any major, major shift, there will be no reduction in sheriff's department staffing."

Desmarais, who oversees the patrol division, commended residents for being alert and getting deputies involved when they see something suspicious.

For the fiscal year 2008-2009, he noted, there were 13 calls for 'suspicious persons' in the sheriff's department service area around Escalon. In the last month alone, he said, there have been eight calls.

"I would encourage you, anytime you see something you don't feel is right, give us a call, let us come out and investigate."

Billed as an informational session, there was a lot of info handed out in a short period of time.

"I know you're all very busy," noted resident Vickie Mello. "Thank you for taking the time to come out and talk to us, filling us in a little more on what is going on."