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Community Closes Out Year 2014 In Review, Part II
Members of the 2014 Homecoming Court included, from left, Darian Caton, new Queen Julie Victorino, Paige Fisher, Piper Rockwell and Abbie Duarte.

A record setting victory on the football field, welcome rain late in the year and lots of celebrations, from Park Fete to Homecoming, filled the pages of The Escalon Times during the second half of the year. Here are some excerpts from issues, July through December, 2014.



The San Joaquin County Family Fair is set to run Wednesday, July 2 through Sunday, July 6 at the county fairgrounds in Stockton. The event features nightly concerts, carnival rides, food, games and even a special treasure hunt. It all begins with a ribbon cutting this morning, July 2 at 11 a.m. outside the Fair main entrance.

In a long holiday weekend that saw some illegal fireworks being shot off, Escalon Police reported a couple arrests for other offenses as well. There were no arrests in the illegal fireworks incidents, which were reported in multiple locations around town. There were two cases where the illegal variety of fireworks were confiscated, with some on La Mesa and another case at Edmart and Fourth Street.

Chosen as this year’s Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon, longtime local residents and community volunteers Lee and Sandy Rigg will be feted at a special luncheon in their honor on Tuesday, July 8.

Escalon residents are invited to come and welcome their new Police Chief to town, as Mike Borges will be officially sworn in to office on Monday, July 14. The ceremony is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 2060 McHenry Ave., with the new chief scheduled to take the oath of office and receive his ‘chief’ badge.

Krista (Anderson) McCoon has taken over as the San Joaquin County AgVenture coordinator. McCoon and the AgVenture committee subsequently set the event dates for the coming school year. An Escalon native, McCoon was an active member of the Escalon FFA Chapter where she served as a chapter and sectional officer and raised and showed breeding and market swine.

The Escalon Community Pool will be closed for the remainder of this week, now through Friday, July 18. An equipment malfunction prompted a one day closure on Monday, according to City Recreation Department spokesperson Bridget Gaines.

“The pump is out and the parts are ordered but we found out they won’t be in until probably Wednesday,” Gaines explained.

A redesigned vendor area, a new fun zone featuring games and activities for kids, the popular bull riding and non-stop music with state-of-the-art stage production, the 2014 Escalon Park Fete celebration featured a couple of festive days of fun.

Temperatures peaked in the mid-90s, making for a bearable summer weekend, and there was no shortage of activities for attendees to enjoy.

A group of representatives from Escalon Covenant Church are winding their way through a nearly month-long mission, still serving in South Africa. The group left on July 6 and are scheduled to return on July 30, spending the bulk of that time serving Lily of the Valley Children’s Village, Makaphutu Children’s Village, and World Changers Academy. They are all located outside of Durban, South Africa.

An early morning pursuit on Thursday, July 24 covered 11 miles in eight minutes.

The unlicensed driver who led Escalon Police Officer Anthony Hardgraves on that chase was subsequently arrested on multiple counts and booked at San Joaquin County Jail.



There’s nothing really new in Escalon’s water regulations … it’s just that they will now be enforced. In response to a state call for 20 percent reduction in water consumption due to the ongoing drought, interim City Manager Tammy Alcantor said the city will be much more vigilant in cracking down on ‘water wasters.’

Refurbished classrooms, a totally redesigned agricultural and ag mechanics wing, fresh paint, a new look … Escalon High School is getting quite the facelift this summer. Crews have been working steadily since the end of the last school year – and in the case of the ag wing, even before that – on the first phase of a multi-phase, multi-million dollar school facilities improvement project. Work will be done eventually at all district campuses, though Escalon High School has been the focus of this first phase. But with just a week left before the start of the 2014-15 school year on Aug. 13, it will mean a huge push to get things in shape for a smooth start to the year.

Escalon Sunrise Rotary is quietly and consistently making a name for itself. The club has taken home top honors in a variety of categories, from first place in the Small Club vocational category and first place in the Small Club international service category to the ultimate “Best Club in District” banner for District 5220, an expansive geographic region that includes 53 clubs.

Father-son coaching legends Bob and Mark Loureiro will enter the Hall of Fame this month. They are two of the inductees for the 2014 class for the Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame, the class induction set for Aug. 24. The two have coached and taught at Escalon High School for decades, starting with dad Bob and followed by son Mark. Both have been successful and impressively so, with Section and State titles between them. Mark also currently serves as the school’s Athletic Director.

A total of eight stops were on the agenda for the caravan of city, police, fire and emergency services personnel on Tuesday, Aug. 5 for the observance of National Night Out. Potlucks, barbecues, a water slide, cornhole games, ice cream, there was a little bit of everything for residents to enjoy during the annual event. The goal is to get people out of their houses for the night, to socialize with neighbors and send a message to criminals that the neighborhoods are united and looking out for each other. Escalon’s festivities featured the caravan of vehicles and officials, including a couple of eTrans buses, and youngsters at each stop had the chance to tour the emergency services vehicles.

A ceremonial ribbon cutting, some brief speeches, then plenty of time to try out the new playground equipment was on the schedule for students at Farmington Elementary School recently. The special event was hosted early morning Wednesday, Aug. 20, as Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Ron Costa, joined by school board members Richard Thompson and John Largent, gathered for the ribbon cutting and equipment inauguration.



San Joaquin County – including Escalon and surrounding areas – are not out of the woods yet this year when it comes to West Nile Virus. Spraying operations over the past few days have included both ground spraying and aerial spraying in and around Escalon, according to officials from the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District.

After spending nearly eight years on staff at Escalon High School as a teacher, Stephanie (DeFreitas) Parker has returned … but this time she has her own office and a new title. The former AP World History, History and Current Events teacher left Escalon for a year as principal at Waterloo Middle School in the Linden Unified School District. As of this August, however, she is on the job as the Assistant Principal for Escalon High School.

Escalon Police are continuing their investigation into a rash of burglaries and a potential arson fire in the downtown area early Monday. Officers were called to the 1700 block of Main Street shortly before 1 a.m. Monday, Sept. 8 to a report of a person hearing a window being smashed at a business. When officers arrived on the scene, they discovered a boutique had been broken into, with a variety of merchandise taken.

It was a nearly picture perfect day on Saturday, the setting just right for the Escalon Lions Club 21st annual Autumn Cruise. Classics by the hundreds rolled into town, taking up residence for the day in the city’s Main Street Park and covering nearly every inch of it with all makes and models, from Corvettes to Cobras, Indian motorcycles to classic Model A’s. For a good cause, too, as the proceeds from the annual cruise are used to provide scholarships for graduating Escalon High School seniors.

The Escalon Sports Boosters is hosting a brick fundraiser, with the bricks to be placed in front of the new gym on the EHS campus. The bricks can feature a family name, business, individual or organization and proceeds will benefit all sports at Escalon High School. Much like the downtown brick fundraiser near the monument to the first fire station hosted by the city’s Historical Society, the bricks are commemorative and will be placed permanently at the school.

An early morning accident Thursday, Sept. 11 claimed the life of an area man. The California Highway Patrol investigated the crash, which occurred about 6:15 a.m. on Lone Tree Road, west of Carrolton. Though the CHP had not officially released the identity of the victim, sources said the driver killed was Shannon Joaquin, 29, who lived in the area and had attended Escalon High School.

A few dozen people gathered outside the Escalon Firehouse on Coley Avenue to remember the tragic events of that day, in a ceremony hosted at 9:11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11.

An effort that got started a few months ago has taken solid hold locally and now has a full slate of officers, as the Mid-Cal Blue Star Mothers are now recognized as an official group within the military family support organization. The Blue Star Mothers group is open to any parent – mother or father – with a child serving in the military and has its regular meetings on the fourth Sunday of the month.

Crowning of a new Queen, recognition for a pair of longtime teachers, an upset win by the freshmen in Powder Puff football … Escalon’s 2014 Fall Homecoming had it all. Julie Victorino took home the crown as the new Homecoming Queen, while teachers Rusty Fachner and Gary Ball – both of whom are retiring at the end of the current school year – were honored as Homecoming Grand Marshals.



Expect a lot of traffic in Escalon on Saturday. Oct. 4 will be the date this year for the annual citywide yard sale, with individual families, local churches and school groups, even community service organizations joining in to make some money by putting their unwanted items up for sale.

As they do each year during Fire Prevention Week, the local firefighters will put on informational assemblies at local schools. Crews will be at Dent Elementary on Friday, Oct. 10 for a series of programs, broken up by grade level, starting at 8:45 a.m. and running until noon. At 1 p.m., they will be at Van Allen Elementary for a full school assembly.

Escalon’s senior meal program needs more people – both to help run the program and to eat the food. Coordinator Sandy Rigg said attendance has dropped off and organizers are hoping more people will take advantage of the low cost, nutritious meals, offered Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Escalon Community Center.

Longtime local resident, former Times reporter and community activist Sheila Arellano passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 7.

San Joaquin County Public Health Services reports the county’s first West Nile Virus (WNV) related death for 2014, is that of a woman in her 60s from the northern rural area of the county.

Tammy Alcantor is now the new Escalon City Manager, agreeing in closed session with the council at a special meeting on Oct. 15 to accept the position.

The big Gatorade cooler of water was picked up and put down multiple times on Friday night, Oct. 17. But when the final seconds ticked off and Escalon had put away Hilmar in a 41-34 victory at Engel Field, a handful of Cougars were more than happy to hoist the cooler and dump the icy water over the head of their coach, Mark Loureiro. Not because they beat Hilmar in a crucial Trans-Valley League contest, but because the win against Hilmar goes in the books as Number 262 – and makes Loureiro the all-time wins leader in Sac-Joaquin Section history. With Friday night’s victory, Loureiro runs his ongoing record to 262-51-1.

Escalon Unified School District will have three trustee positions available in the Tuesday, Nov. 4 election. There is, however, only one contested race, as incumbent John Largent seeks to return to his Dent Urban Area 5 seat and faces a challenge from candidate Erica McCulloch. Kate Powell is running unopposed in Area 2, Farmington.

Even while the likelihood of a case of Ebola virus disease appearing in San Joaquin County is low, local public health, hospitals, medical care facilities, and emergency medical response partners are working together in coordination with state and federal agencies to prepare for and respond to any possible public health threats. All-hazard emergency preparedness is the national standard practiced throughout San Joaquin County.



Longtime Escalon Unified School District board member John Largent was returned to the board by an overwhelming majority in the Tuesday, Nov. 4 election. Largent, with 290 votes in the race for his Dent Urban seat on the board, won re-election over challenger Erica McCulloch.

From the Main Street flyover by three planes of the Commemorative Air Force to the 21-gun salute at the city’s Community Center, Escalon observed Veterans’ Day on Tuesday, Nov. 11.

Escalon’s newest police officer is settling in and finding small town police work to his liking. A U.S. Navy veteran with 20 years’ service, Carl Poortinga was recently brought on board with Escalon and has already worked a variety of shifts, from days to swing and graveyard. He is also picking up valuable insight and information from his Field Training Officers and said he is pleased to put on the uniform each day.

Escalon High School’s FFA is in the giving spirit, ready to pass out Thanksgiving baskets full of food for local families in need. Likewise, the Escalon C.A.R.E. Center is getting ready for the holiday rush, when families having trouble making ends meet will need some extra help putting a healthy holiday meal on the table.

Area residents are encouraged to attend a meeting tonight, Wednesday, Nov. 19 regarding a bridge replacement project, with the session set at Farmington Elementary School. Members of the public are invited to the Public Information Meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Farmington Elementary School, Multipurpose Room, 25233 East Highway 4, in Farmington.

No one has to spend Thanksgiving alone – that’s the idea behind Escalon’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner and the final preparations are being made, with the Escalon Community Center being set up today, Wednesday, in advance of the feast on Thursday. Along with serving up the homemade traditional Thanksgiving dinner, the corps of volunteers also makes sure there are meals for takeout and drivers take meals to those who are elderly, ill or shut in and cannot make it to the Community Center to share the holiday.

More than 850 shoeboxes of gifts were sent off from the Escalon Relay Center at the Covenant Church on Monday, bound for Manteca and then Huntington Beach, as part of the Operation Christmas Child effort.



Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) introduced their first bills for the 2015-16 Legislative Session on Monday, which seek to curb frivolous lawsuits related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so that businesses in the Central Valley and across California can keep their doors open while they work to comply with access laws.

Welcome wet weather nevertheless was causing some problems for the San Joaquin Valley area on Tuesday, with rain predicted throughout the day and a small stream flood advisory issued. Escalon was among the communities getting steady rain that began overnight Monday and continued for much of the day Tuesday, with predictions of rainy weather for the next several days.

As they have for the past few years, members of the Escalon Sunrise Rotary Club coordinated a festive holiday event for local senior citizens. The gathering was staged at the Escalon United Methodist Church and featured food, gifts, music and fellowship for several dozen seniors. Rotary Club members helped with preparation and serving of the meal, as did church members, and the festivities were hosted on Friday evening, Dec. 5.

As the Escalon Police Department looks to get back to solid staffing levels, another new officer has joined the ranks. Steve Quilici, who completed his academy training in October 2013, has accepted his first law enforcement position and is now a police officer for the city.

With the last of the year’s book reports turned in, projects completed and tests taken, students, teachers – and parents – could breathe a sigh of relief, sit back and enjoy the show. And that’s what they did at both Farmington and Collegeville Elementary Schools, as the outlying rural sites put on their traditional holiday programs just before students left for Christmas break.

A couple of efforts by Escalon Police are hoping to put the clamps down on reckless drivers, whether it is due to excessive speed or excessive drinking. Escalon Police Chief Mike Borges said the department is focusing efforts first on controlling speeders who drive too fast on First Street, especially in the area of El Portal Middle School.

The annual Toys for Tots drive in Escalon was classified as a huge success this year, with dozens of families receiving bags of gifts to place under the tree. Collection boxes were in some two dozen locations around the community, the toys then collected and sorted for the Dec. 22 distribution at the Escalon firehouse.

California emergency medical services providers and associates – including Escalon Community Ambulance Chief Mike Pitassi – were recognized for exceptional acts of bravery and service to their communities and to the state at a luncheon ceremony in San Francisco earlier this month. Dr. Howard Backer, Director of the EMS Authority, and EMS Chair of the Commission, Lew Stone, presented the 2014 EMS Awards. For Pitassi, the recognition was one his peers feel is well-deserved, noting he has been the guiding force behind Escalon Community Ambulance for years.