By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Headlines - Looking Back: Year In Review
In a year of economic uncertainty, multiple personnel changes, academic and athletic achievements, there was plenty of news to fill the pages of The Times in 2012.

This week, we start our review of the year gone by, taking a look at the top stories from January through June.


Looking to the future, and hopefully offering some help to local businesses, the City of Escalon is hosting a special Enterprise Zone meeting this month. City Manager Henry Hesling said the city, which is now part of the San Joaquin County Enterprise Zone, can offer some aid to businesses through tax credits and the Jan. 18 meeting will highlight what is available.

Identification has been made of the victim in a Christmas Eve fatal accident and Escalon Police are reporting several arrests over the long New Year's holiday weekend. The late night Dec. 24 accident at Highway 120 and Steinegul Road resulted in the death of Martin Constantino, 20, of Escalon when the 2006 Chrysler he was driving southbound on Steinegul failed to stop at the intersection with Highway 120 and crossed the highway directly into the path of a westbound 2012 Peterbilt big rig.

Lack of substantial rainfall this winter has prompted South San Joaquin Irrigation District officials and area farmers to get proactive.

Statistics for the year show an increase in burglary, larceny, stolen vehicles and assaults from 2010 to 2011, accounting for an overall 48 percent rise in the number of Part I crimes in the City of Escalon.

Students on the starting team for Escalon High School's Academic Decathlon squad will head to the University of the Pacific this Saturday, Jan. 28, taking part in the opening round of county competition.


Like the sign on the Coley Avenue fire station declares, the Escalon Fire District is marking 100 years of service this year. Specific celebration plans are being made, to be announced later, though the sign recently went up to alert the community to the historic observance.

Hoping to move forward by the end of the week, a proposal for replacement of underground piping is being drawn up for Escalon High School. Aged, deteriorating gas lines will be replaced and the school is still operating with portable electric heaters in the bulk of the classrooms because of leaks detected in the underground system.

An Escalon woman was killed and an Oakdale teen arrested following a vehicle vs. pedestrian crash early evening on Saturday, Feb. 4. California Highway Patrol officers responded to the scene on Escalon-Bellota road south of Mahon about 6:30 p.m. after receiving multiple calls regarding the accident.

Escalon will complete the second phase of its 'civic center' project with the moving of multiple city offices into their new location on McHenry Avenue later this month. City offices will be closed for the observance of Presidents' Day on Monday, Feb. 20 and then will close again on Friday, Feb. 24 in order to start the move. Offices will be open in the new location and ready to conduct business at 2060 McHenry on Monday, Feb. 27.

The annual Presidents' Day celebration at Dent Elementary School was staged for the public on Friday, after the third grade students had the chance to polish up their act in front of their classmates in performances earlier in the week.

Debris was strewn across a wide area along Highway 4 near Stanley Road in Farmington late morning Wednesday, Feb. 22 when an agricultural spray helicopter went down. Though the chopper was destroyed, the pilot survived the crash, but with some serious injuries.


The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by Miss Escalon Kasie Van Ruler to officially start the recreational baseball/softball season in Escalon on Saturday. Weather forecasters are calling for spring like conditions, with high temperatures likely reaching up into the 70s by afternoon.

Collections in the community raised over $100 - a total of $144 to be exact - so Escalon High School Principal Dave Lattig got the honor of kissing the goat to celebrate FFA Week on the campus of EHS.

More calls are coming in to the Escalon Police Department regarding credit and debit card 'skimming' at an area business. Police continue the investigation into the cases at All City Automotive on Main Street, and officials said following information published in the March 7 issue of The Times, they have received additional reports of possible fraud from citizens.

If numbers are any indication, the early turnout bodes well for the Escalon Unified School District. Superintendent Ron Costa said the numbers for two days of kindergarten registration, March 15 and 16 in the district, show more students being registered than during the same two-day period last year. Registration was done at all elementary schools, Dent, Collegeville, Farmington and Van Allen.

An emergency room nurse, traveling the country to help students learn how to make smart, potentially life-saving decisions, brought the effort to El Portal Middle School on Friday.

A dilapidated house on the corner of McHenry and Roosevelt in Escalon has seen better days ... but is now an effective tool. Escalon Fire Department crews have been utilizing the home, which will be demolished soon as part of the ongoing McHenry Avenue widening project, for Monday night training sessions for the last several weeks.


Two more victims of the 'Speed Freak Killers' in San Joaquin County have been identified, decades after their disappearance. San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore made the announcement at a Friday press conference, announcing that the San Joaquin County Coroner's Office, with the assistance from an Odontologist, an Anthropologist and the California Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Forensic Services had made identifications of two of the possible three skeletal remains located in the well on Flood Road in Linden, just northeast of Farmington.

Escalon High School senior Ian Fitzgerald has been selected as one of the award winners for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section A. Dale Lacky/CSEA Scholarships.

With a location now determined and a dedicated group working to make Railtown a reality, the first official fundraiser for Escalon's Skate Park is coming up this weekend. Musical group Back To Good will perform in a benefit concert for the skate park effort on Saturday night, April 21 starting at 8:30 p.m. at Shorty's Pub and Grill on Plaza Avenue.

The region was hit by a few downpours, some high winds, lightning, thunder and even a tornado briefly touching down in nearby French Camp, with an inch and three-quarters of rain pummeling the community in the past week. In town, City Manager Henry Hesling said Public Works crews did a "good job getting out there" to make sure catch basins were ready for the series of spring storms.

Recent rainy weather, followed by the 90-plus degree temperatures of the past week, has primed the region for an influx of mosquitoes. And with that, the threat of West Nile Virus.

Even as observers were taking notes and helping students complete Kindergarten Readiness assessments, staff members in the Escalon Unified School District were getting layoff notices. The pink slips for teachers went out last month, the latest round of layoff notices went to classified employees just this past week. The hope is to 'pull back' at least some of the pink slips and bring those targeted employees back for the 2012-2013 school year but the likelihood is that some will be left without a job.


Escalon's Impact 16 Black competitive volleyball team is headed to the Junior Olympics. Coach Teresa Williamson and her 16 and Under squad went 10-1 in the Junior Olympics qualifier in Reno, Nevada over the weekend.

A little later than its namesake - the Escalon 'Mardi Gras' celebration, a downtown wine stroll, drew a big crowd and provided a festive atmosphere for the masses on Friday night.

A new Escalon Charter Academy will be offered to students in grades kindergarten through eight for the 2012-2013 school year.

Austin Martinez doesn't consider himself a hero. He's just glad to have his friend Robert 'Boo' Corriea around. The loss of Corriea became a very real possibility when the two Escalon High School sophomores were in a Jeep that went out of control and rolled down a rocky embankment into a water-filled canal on Martinez's property in the Collegeville area Wednesday night, May 2.

Members of the San Joaquin County Metro Narcotics Task Force served search warrants at two rural Escalon locations on Wednesday, May 9 and confiscated several hundred marijuana plants and several thousand dollars in cash. According to the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, the search warrants were served in the 27000 block of Tiffani Lane, between Steinegul and Campbell roads, north of Lone Tree; and in the 17000 block of Victory Avenue. Investigators seized a total of 454 plants and $3000 between the two locations, authorities said.

Escalon High School's Class of 2012 will take the stage at Engel Field on Friday night, preparing to start the next phase of their lives as they say goodbye to the place that has been their 'home' for years. Taylor Morrow will deliver the address as Valedictorian and Daniel Alcantor is this year's Salutatorian.

Established in 1861, Van Allen Elementary School has reached 150 years. Current students and staff, along with pasty attendees and staff members joined in the celebration on Wednesday, May 16 to officially mark the school's century and a half.

Escalon baseball players were winners at Zupo Field in Lodi late Monday afternoon, after taking a hard fought 2-1 win off the field against Trans-Valley league rival Hilmar. It was the third consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 baseball title for the Cougars, who went 27-1-1 for the season.


Surpassing its monetary goal, Escalon's second Relay For Life benefited from much better weather this year, with the crowd turning out and teams bringing in the money to go over $67,000 for the event. The goal set for Escalon by the American Cancer Society was $53,000 after the first year, a rain-soaked Relay, brought in some $50,000 last year. Participants cheered and applauded at Sunday morning's closing ceremonies when chair Amie Ney Conde announced the total, with the amount listed at $67,089.

One more title - and a host of other duties - have been added to the daily routine of Escalon City Engineer, Public Works Director and now Deputy City Manager John Abrew. He will serve as deputy manager, working with interim City Manager Henry Hesling until Hesling leaves his assignment with the city at the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

The San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD), in partnership with Proterra Inc., was awarded a California Energy Commission (CEC) grant in the amount of $2.56 million toward an electric bus demonstration project valued at over $4 million.

What San Joaquin County should look like in the future will be on display this week, as the San Joaquin County Planning Commission hosts a public hearing on Thursday night.

Long a familiar sight for those passing by the Escalon Livestock Market and known by a variety of names, George the steer will no longer greet visitors to the community. The aged steer had to be put down after falling ill recently, ending some 20 years of standing sentinel in the fields surrounding the market, at the corner of Lone Tree and Escalon-Bellota roads.

Rates are going up for the first time in 22 years for 3,800 farm customers in Manteca, Ripon and Escalon that obtain water from the South San Joaquin Irrigation District.

From the youngest, sometimes timid entry level kids to the more adventurous middle schoolers, there is plenty of learning going on this summer at the Escalon Community Pool. Lifeguards who also serve as swim instructors are putting the kids through a series of classes, Monday through Thursday, helping them get used to the water, introducing them to some strokes and different types of kicks, even getting them into the deep end for some diving instruction.

Next week, look for the second half of the year in review, covering July to December.