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Pandemic Impact Continues As Year’s First Half Unfolds
Review 2021
In early June, members of the Escalon High School Class of 2021 got to share their celebration with family and friends, tossing their caps into the air following an in-person graduation ceremony at Engel Field. Marg Jackson/The Times

Even though the calendar turned from 2020 to 2021 as scheduled, the New Year did not immediately bring any relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. School was in session but there were still many restrictions; the Escalon City Council was conducting its business and slowly, San Joaquin County moved into less restrictive tiers which allowed life to return to a more ‘normal’ feel. The Class of 2021 at Escalon High School even got to celebrate their graduation in person, with some family and friends in attendance.

This week, we review the top stories of 2021 from January to June, those events that made the pages of The Times, in a year that was definitely memorable.



It isn’t his first time taking on the role of mayor; in fact, Ed Alves has just stepped in to the position for the fourth time. He was named Mayor after having served as Mayor Pro Tem the past couple of years under Mayor Robert Swift. Alves has been a constant presence on the City Council dais for nearly three decades, now entering his 27th year on the council. “This community made me what I am, who I am,” Alves said, noting that he grew up here and then moved away, living in Southern California for many years before retuning.

With San Joaquin County entering 2021 in a continued state of lockdown and amid ‘stay at home’ orders, the City of Escalon continues to offer some options for ‘virtual’ recreation. Recreation Services Coordinator Bridget Gaines said they have a number of ideas on the city website, everything from ‘get moving’ ideas for youngsters to gardening tips. Gaines said the city was able to first offer the virtual programs in the spring and has continued to frequently add additional information.

Backed up with funding approved by the Board of Directors for the Farmington Fire Department, Chief Conni Bailey said she has put the finishing touches on the department’s new part-time program. Now, she just needs people to fill the positions. “I’m just working on it now and will be putting out the flyer, sending it out to all local fire departments,” Bailey said, noting that Farmington hopes to entice some part-time personnel to cover daytime, weekday shifts.

Bracing for what has been termed the ‘third wave’ of coronavirus cases, officials with the Escalon Unified School District remain hopeful that in-person learning will continue without a disruption. Following the New Year observance – where people may have gathered with those outside the home – San Joaquin County health officials warned schools to be on alert for a wave of cases or those presenting with COVID-19 symptoms. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year have each provided a ‘wave’ coming out of 2020 and into 2021, said officials.

As part of the stimulus bill passed late last year, millions of dollars in federal housing support will flow to the Central Valley, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) announced on Friday, Jan. 15. The funding is made available through the Treasury Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) – and will help people struggling to pay rent and utilities as a result of the pandemic.

Members of the Escalon Unified School District Board approved a wide-ranging improvement project for Collegeville Elementary School earlier this month. The action came at the board’s regular January meeting and members approved the local C.T. Brayton firm to provide construction services for the project. It is proposed to include a parking lot extension at the rural elementary school, located at the corner of Mariposa and Jack Tone roads. There will also be improvements made for a student drop off area, a bus drop off area and possible play field upgrade/improvements.

The San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) announced this past week that it has acquired the Sky Mountain Outdoor Education Center. Situated at the top of the North Fork of the American River in the Sierra Nevada in Tahoe National Forest in Placer County, the property will become the new home for Science Camp for San Joaquin Valley students.

The long-awaited announcement came on Monday afternoon: effective Jan. 25, San Joaquin County has officially moved back to the Purple, or Widespread, Tier after the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that the Regional Stay-At-Home Order has been lifted in the San Joaquin Valley region due to the fact that the ICU capacity is projected to be at 15 percent in four weeks. The Limited Stay At-Home Order or curfew is also ended with the exit from the Regional Stay At-Home Order.



To advance its vision of being the transportation service of choice for the residents it serves, San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) is launching RTD Next Gen, a system redesign study that will evaluate and identify improvements for its current service offerings—fixed-route, paratransit, on-demand, and commuter services. “To remain responsive to the changing needs of our community,” said newly-elected Board Chair Michael Restuccia, “this project could not have come at a better time. So much has already changed due to COVID-19. We need to continue to reassess our organization in order to stay relevant.”

Escalon athletes – if they get to take the fields and courts at all this school year – might be facing off with Manteca teams instead of Hilmar. As the San Joaquin region has moved into the Purple Tier, there is some hope that COVID numbers will continue trending downward with the possibility of school sports on the horizon. However, it would take a lot of maneuvering to make it so, noted Escalon High School Athletic Director Nate Bartelink. He said officials within the Trans-Valley League met on Thursday, after the state’s CIF, California Interscholastic Federation, released some guidelines for getting back to sports safely.

Not long after getting settled at their desks on Friday morning, an alarm sounded and students in Escalon High School’s CTE – Career and Technical Education – First Responder Pathway’s Fire Science class were off and running. Their classroom is adjacent to a replica firehouse, set up with open face lockers holding their turnout gear, a fire engine parked in the bay. The firehouse is in the former auto shop, converted to a fire station for purposes of the CTE program. Teaching the class this year are Seth Davis and Susan Davis, both with a background in the emergency services field.

A 39-year-old man is in the San Joaquin County Jail on multiple felony counts, including attempted murder, in connection with a series of shootings in the River Road area, south of Escalon. The arrest of Javier Rivera, described as a transient, was announced by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department following an investigation. He was booked into the county jail on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 9. Sheriff’s deputies said there had been reports of multiple vehicles being shot at over the past several months, south of the city limits along River Road. Until more shootings in the early morning hours of Feb. 9, none of the victims had been able to provide any suspect information. However, said deputies, three vehicles were shot at on Feb. 9 and two of the victims were able to identify the suspect as being in a white sedan.

About 1,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered on Monday, Feb. 22 at the second of seven vaccine clinics at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) for San Joaquin County schools. The seven clinics are expected to deliver about 11,000 first doses of the vaccine through March 3. Monday’s vaccination event followed the administering of more than 1,100 doses of vaccine at the Feb. 19 soft opening of the clinics on the SJCOE’s Stockton campus.

Sunny skies and warmer weather over the past couple of weeks have set the stage for a new period of growth at Vista High School. The alternative education high school for the Escalon Unified School District, second-year Principal Gustavo Arzac said several students are now taking part in a new garden project on the campus, along Escalon Avenue. “Vista High School was approved for the SJFB (San Joaquin Farm Bureau) Foundation for Agricultural Education 2021 Agricultural Education Grant. With this grant, we have been able to purchase lumber to build our raised garden boxes for our “Grow Vista Green” project,” explained Arzac. “Students have been working hard building raised garden boxes, clearing up new garden areas and prepping the soil. This project started in early February and will continue through the summer for elective credits.”

The “reportable crimes” for calendar year 2020 in Escalon were 205, up from 203 recorded in 2019. That equates to just a one percent overall hike in the crime rate and though there were a few categories that saw big jumps, the overall rate stayed relatively flat. Now-retired Police Chief Mike Borges was at the helm through the first six months of 2020, with current Chief Rob Lackey in charge over the last six months. Lackey presented the year-end statistics to Escalon City Council members earlier this month.



Local residents stepped up in a big way over the weekend, donating more than 1,500 pounds of food during the Escalon Lions Club food drive. Hosted on behalf of C.A.R.E., Community Action Resources of Escalon, the drive was part of a statewide Lions Club effort to collect 150,000 pounds of non-perishable food items during the month of February. “Our final total came to 1573 pounds of non-perishable food items. That’s one percent of the statewide target,” pointed out Escalon Lions Club President Mike Powers, who was pleased with the local collection. “In addition we have picked and donated over 600 pounds of oranges collected from local privately owned trees over the last month.”

Following a record-setting year in 2019, officials at the Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District saw a drop in 2020, partially attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. “We had 1,308 incidents in 2019 and that was a record,” said Fire Chief Rick Mello. “We had a total of 1,169 in 2020. We had a really busy February and we may have been on pace for another record-setting year but calls after February went down, that was kind of the trend due to the pandemic.” April and May, often the busiest months as the fire season is ramping up, were slower than normal in 2020, said Mello, with May seeing the fewest calls during the year with 70. Busiest month of the year was August with 123 calls.

As San Joaquin County slowly sees its COVID-19 positivity rate dropping, certain restrictions are starting to loosen up. For many, it’s a welcome change – and it will see the Escalon High School football Cougars return to the gridiron. Defending state champions, this year’s edition of the varsity football team is eager to play, even though there won’t be any playoffs or championship games this season. Still, the chance to put on the shoulder pads and helmets and face off against other schools on the football field has stirred plenty of excitement on the local high school campus and in the community. It’s just a handful of games, said varsity head coach Andrew Beam, but enough to get his players energized. “It has been chaos from the start,” Beam admitted of unexpectedly getting the go-ahead for football a couple of weeks ago, as the COVID-19 metrics fell into line to allow the sport. “It’s a mad dash to get kids back into shape; there is more rust on these kids, they basically had a year layoff.”

Better than last year, the annual Escalon High School Sober Grad tri tip drive-thru dinner went off well this past weekend. Coordinator Renee Snow said she was overwhelmed by the positive response from the community and grateful for the support of many businesses. With more than 220 dinner tickets sold, Snow said they easily surpassed last year’s sales of 145 dinners. The meal for four was a ‘to go’ meal, as it always has been, and proceeds will support the Sober Grad night event for graduating seniors.

From renovations at the former Escalon Lumber building to a mixed use project at the old Escalon City Hall/Police Department complex, there is plenty of progress being made on a number of ongoing projects in the city. “Revitalization is underway at the former Escalon Lumber Yard, now owned by Larry Grossi,” explained Development Services Manager Dominique Romo. “Back in December, Mr. Grossi came to the Planning Commission with plans to remodel existing buildings and phase in the construction of future buildings to create leasable commercial units. This project includes storm improvements, installation of parking lots, landscaping, and street frontage improvements.” An added bonus in the project, Romo noted, is that Grossi is also converting/constructing what was previously known as Prospect Street into a public parking area for customers patronizing the local businesses.

The Valley Air District has concluded its 2020-2021 Check Before You Burn season and issued a ‘thanks’ to Valley residents who acknowledge the health benefits of following the rule and seeking alternatives to wood burning during one of the Valley’s most challenging winters. “The District’s primary responsibility is protecting the health of San Joaquin Valley residents. This requires strict enforcement of rules that regulate emissions from activities such as residential wood burning,” said Jaime Holt, District Chief Communications Officer.

Perhaps now, more than ever, the Peer Interaction Team, PIT, is needed. A longstanding program at Escalon High School, PIT develops leadership skills among class members, who also work with younger students in a type of mentoring-buddy relationship. It marks its 35th anniversary this year. And while current PIT teacher/advisor Sue Gentry said the pandemic has added another layer of difficulty to the program, it is one that continues to be a valuable part of the EHS curriculum. “PIT began in the spring of 1986 in the wake of an on campus suicide involving a Vista student,” Gentry explained of the group’s history. “After counseling hundreds of high school kids in the aftermath of this tragedy, district officials concluded that a high school support group or class would be beneficial. Among the leaders pushing for this project were district counselor Michael Simone, district psychologist Pat Rogers, and teacher Rusty Fachner.”

The only unfair thing about Friday night’s football game was that more people couldn’t be in the stands. With attendance limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was plenty of room to stretch out in The Corral in Oakdale on March 19 for the first game of an abbreviated season. Those in the stands, however, were treated to a match-up of two elite small school programs. And the teams taking the field didn’t disappoint. “The last team with the ball was going to win, that’s truthfully how I felt,” Escalon head coach Andrew Beam said of the contest, which ended with a 38-35 decision in host Oakdale’s favor.

The local dairy industry is searching for young women wishing to compete for the District 5 Dairy Princess crown. The winner will represent the dairy industry in the multi-county District 5 as a spokesperson and will also represent the California dairy industry in appearances with various audiences. The newly selected Dairy Princess and alternates will participate in a mandatory professional development and educational training July 6 through 8, 2021.

Cougar players, coaches and fans are hoping it wasn’t their only game of the season. Escalon Unified School District officials are hoping the quarantine will do its job. Following the first game of the season on Friday night, March 19 in Oakdale, several players from the varsity football team for Escalon tested positive for COVID-19, forcing a quarantine of the team and a couple of coaches who are also teachers within the school district. The quarantine announcement for the varsity came on Friday morning, March 26; the JV and freshman teams had been quarantined a couple of days before, putting a hold on their contests for the next couple of weeks.



They are retiring as a package deal. Escalon Unified School District is not losing just one Heflin at the end of the 2020-21 school year; it is losing two. Longtime Escalon High School teacher and coach Rick Heflin and his wife Sue, an elementary teacher with the district for over two decades, are planning to trade in school bells for travel trailer adventures. Rick Heflin has taught for 34 years, the first five at Vista and the last 29 at Escalon High School. He has also spent 32 of those years coaching, including 14 years with wrestling, 15 with track and field, 32 with cross country. Sue Heflin started her teaching career in Turlock and has been an educator for 35 years. She was in the Turlock Unified School District for the first 12 years, then made the move to Escalon. Here, she started with a combination second-third grade class at Farmington Elementary, then spent nine years teaching fifth grade at Dent. When the district boundaries were re-drawn, she moved to Van Allen, where she taught fourth grade for six years and, the last three, has been teaching third grade.

State officials announced on Tuesday, April 6 that San Joaquin County is now within the lower, Red Tier of reopening under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Due to declining COVID case metrics and increased vaccination efforts, San Joaquin County has moved from the Widespread Risk Level – Purple Tier into the less-restrictive Substantial Risk Level – Red Tier.

The last time a football game was played on Engel Field, it was December of 2019. It was the state Division 4A championship game and, with a huge margin of victory, the Escalon Cougars were crowned state champions. They returned to the field on Saturday night, April 10 and faced off with a familiar foe – Ripon – to celebrate a ‘homecoming’ for players, families and a small allotment of fans allowed in to see the game. Ripon was the only team that the Cougars lost to during the 2019 season. This time, the host Cougars earned a 10-7 win. But more than just a game, football is part of the culture of Escalon and, since it was Spring Break week from school this past week, there was plenty of time for practices, watching game films and, as has become the custom over the years, the players were treated to some good meals. Traditionally, parents of the varsity football players join forces to host a local pre-game meal before each home game of the season. For away games, the parents pack meals for the players to eat on the way back home. This week, with cooperation from families and local businesses, the varsity players got a meal every day of the week. That included the early Saturday afternoon pre-game meal, served up at the city’s Community Center Park pavilion.

The Escalon Unified School District (EUSD) announced that it has completed a refunding of its outstanding bonds the District previously issued to finance school facility improvements. Measure “B” approved by voters in 2012, authorized the District to issue $19,500,000 in general obligation bonds. The funds generated from Measure “B” were invested in local schools to modernize classrooms, upgrade vocational education facilities to better prepare students for careers and the workforce and to increase access to modern technology.

Projects were many but so were the volunteers, as Escalon residents fanned out across the city to show some love on Saturday, April 24. Celebrated as Love Escalon day, it was an opportunity for citizens of all ages to give back to their community, helping with beautification efforts, cleaning up, volunteering and helping the city put its best foot forward.



Saturday, May 1 brought with it sunshine, warm temperatures – and a little bit of normalcy, as dozens of local youngsters grabbed their bats and gloves and hit the ball fields at Hogan-Ennis Park. It was opening day of the city’s Little League season and though the ongoing pandemic restrictions did not allow for the traditional ‘Opening Day’ ceremonies, the athletes were able to play their games. From T-ball to the Minors, teams took the field for games throughout the day and, according to City Recreation Coordinator Dave Anderson, there will be games during the week as well as Saturdays this season.

May 2 was a fun day for all in Escalon, as the city’s Chamber of Commerce hosted a variety of festivities for Sunday in the Park, the first time in more than a year the event has been staged. Timed to coincide with the approaching Mother’s Day observance, there were several projects for local youngsters to enjoy while making gifts for the special day. Potholders could be colored, plants could be planted, picture frames could be painted … all were designed to take home and give as gifts. “We’re so happy,” said mom Emma Van Riper, attending the May 2 fun day with sons Zach, 4, and Caleb, 2. They were making the rounds of the various projects and just enjoying being out in the sunshine and fresh air. They didn’t even mind the brisk winds, preferring a day outside to another indoors.

Regional transportation leaders, elected officials and advocates are gearing up for virtual meetings in May and June to secure much-needed federal transportation funding for projects throughout San Joaquin County. The annual San Joaquin One Voice advocacy effort is coordinated by the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG). The coalition will meet with federal officials over the next few months to seek funding for 20 specific projects crucial to improving infrastructure and transportation in San Joaquin County, including top priorities such as work at the State Route 99/120 interchange in Manteca. Each of the projects fall under at least one of five themes adopted by the SJCOG Board of Directors: environmental sustainability, trade corridors, innovation and technology, growth management, and social equity and mobility.

A three-sport athlete and an outstanding student at Escalon High School, senior Elijah ‘Eli’ Lattig has been recognized with the Clarke Coover award, presented by the California Interscholastic Federation’s Sac-Joaquin Section. Section officials this past week announced its A. Dale Lacky Scholar-Athlete Award winners for outstanding athletic performance, community service and academic success during their four years of high school. The award, named after former Section and State CIF President, A. Dale Lacky, recognizes the top male and female student-athletes within the Section. Each league is able to send two winners, one male and one female, to be honored. In addition, the Clarke Coover Award has been given to two of the top honorees. This award is named in honor of former Section Commissioner Clarke Coover. The 2021 winners of the Clarke Coover Award were Escalon’s Lattig and Le Grand’s Alexa Ultreras.

There’s plenty of growth happening along Stanislaus Street, just across the street from the playing fields at Escalon High School. There, the school farm has taken shape and students in a number of classes are learning ‘on the job’ with tasks such as gardening, animal care, landscaping work and more. In mid-spring, the students spent some time prepping small planter flats to plant seeds and grow them inside before transplanting them to the larger planter boxes outside. Several animals on site are also being cared for by students, some getting ready for the annual AgFest livestock market show.

It’s the first evidence of West Nile Virus in San Joaquin County in 2021. And it wasn’t found in a mosquito … it was in a bird. San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District’s (District) mosquito-borne disease surveillance program recently detected West Nile virus (WNV) in a dead bird (wild finch) collected in the Ripon area. “This is the first find of WNV activity in San Joaquin County for 2021,” said Aaron Devencenzi, Public Information Officer of the District. “With warm weather, mosquito populations will continue to increase, leading to an elevated risk of WNV in humans.”

Open to everyone 12 years of age and older, Escalon High School will be the site of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Friday, May 21. The clinic is scheduled in the high school’s Performing Arts Center/Cafeteria and will run from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. “The county health department, along with Sutter Health is going out to communities now wanting to do vaccination clinics,” said Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Ron Costa. “They got in contact with us and asked if they could use a facility of ours.” With approval for the Pfizer vaccine to be given to adolescents as young as 12, the goal is to get as many community clinics scheduled as possible.

Experiencing a bit of a resurgence since being able to reopen their doors, the Escalon Youth Center is definitely helping to fill a need in the community. Currently, the center on Escalon Avenue, across from the Escalon High School campus, is open Monday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m. Summer hours – after school is out for the year on June 4 – will be Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. “Things are going good,” confirmed Youth Center Director Todd ‘TJ’ O’Neill. “We were able to open in mid-March and we are slowly seeing the kids working their way back in here.”



Temperatures were already climbing, inching toward triple digits, as a small crowd gathered at Burwood Cemetery on River Road at 10 a.m. Monday, May 31. The cemetery was the site for a Memorial Day service, hosted by the Escalon American Legion Gustafson-Thompson Post 263. For the Legion members, it was the first of three stops on the day. The formal ceremony, with a wreath laying, 21-gun salute and a guest speaker, is put on at Burwood to start the day. Legion members then were scheduled to place wreaths and observe a moment of silence at both St. John’s Cemetery, adjacent to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church along Highway 120 at the Escalon-Ripon line and at the Farmington Memorial Park cemetery along Escalon-Bellota Road. The Monday morning observance at Burwood saw more than a thousand flags decorating the graves of fallen service members, with large American flags also lining the entryway to the cemetery.

Escalon High School’s top two graduating students, Valedictorian Mikayla Egan and Salutatorian Melissa Mendieta are happy they will mark their graduation with an in-person ceremony. Egan will give a commencement speech at graduation and her plans after high school are to attend Montana State University, Bozeman, pursuing a degree in nursing. She was also involved in basketball, track, AgFest and California Scholarship Federation while at EHS, along with being in 4H for six years. For Mendieta, the future plans are to attend UC Berkeley in the fall, pursuing a degree in the engineering field. She has been involved with both Interact and Key Club, played basketball, was on the cheer squad and has been in Spanish Club all four years at the high school, serving two years as president.

After an absence of a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, planning committee members for the Escalon Park Fete have announced they will be back in 2021. Dates are in August, about a month later than usual, but the dates are set, nonetheless. “Save the date,” committee member Paula Rocha said. “It’s going to happen. We’re back.” The decision to move forward with Park Fete this summer was just made this past week, with the reopening of the state date fast approaching; June 15.

Everywhere you turned, there was another craft project to do. Or a classic car to gaze at … or a caboose to tour. Suffice to say, there wasn’t a shortage of activities to enjoy on June 6 for the Escalon Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Sunday in the Park event. The local Ace Hardware set up shop with its make-a-clock project, kids able to paint and personalize a clock for their dad. Ace staffers Delia Sanders and Danny Sanders were on hand to help, Delia getting the kids set up with the decorating portion of the project and Danny then adding the gearworks and battery to complete the clock. A variety of woodcrafts could also be painted for dad while coffee mugs could be decorated.

In person, with four attendees per graduate, and livestreamed for those not able to attend, the Class of 2021 entered Engel Field for the last time as Cougars on Friday night. A cooling breeze helped make conditions favorable for the June 4 graduation at Escalon High School and the roughly 45-minute ceremony had plenty of high notes. “This is a special event indeed,” high school principal Eric Simoni said in welcoming the crowd, offering thanks to the school board and administration for making sure students not only spent a good part of the year on campus but also had the opportunity for an in person graduation ceremony. He also praised his staff for their efforts. “You guys were flexible, innovative,” Simoni noted. At the height of the pandemic last June, the Class of 2020 did not get a formal graduation ceremony; there was a drive-thru event at the high school but no opportunity to walk the stage and collect a diploma. This year, the seniors had that chance and they seized it, in high spirits and with smiles all around. “We appreciate all the love and support,” senior class president Briana Briones Chavarria said in her welcoming address.

As COVID-19 restrictions ease and the region starts to return to a more normal routine, Escalon city officials have announced that the Escalon Community Pool will open for public swim on Monday, June 28. Swimming lessons started on Monday, June 14 and are being hosted in two-week sessions. The current first session runs through June 24.

Traditionally the ‘first’ of the local summer Vacation Bible School gatherings, Heritage Church in Escalon welcomed youngsters of all ages for this year’s in-person event. Hosted at Heritage (formerly Escalon Covenant) on Escalon Avenue during the week of June 14 through 18, Heritage Children’s Ministry Director Kim Graham said they were extremely pleased with the weeklong VBS experience. “It was for ages four to 12 and we had about 170 kids,” Graham said. “It was big.” Theme for the VBS this year was ‘Victory’.

The agricultural community came out in force this year to support local youth at AgFest on June 19 at the Stockton fairgrounds. There were 627 animals and five ag mechanical projects sold at the auction on Saturday and sales were just over $1.7 million dollars, according to AgFest President Josh Hiatt. Due to the pandemic, last year sales were just shy of a million dollars online and the last live auction was about $1.5 million in sales with at least 100 more animals. “This auction was outstanding,” Hiatt said. “We are grateful that the agricultural community came to support the 4-H and FFA members and make this a memorable experience after such a crazy year.”

A fiscal year budget for 2021/22 was on the agenda for adoption Monday night, June 21 at the regular Escalon City Council meeting. An earlier workshop on the proposed plan saw no significant changes made or called for, with the plan put to the council for approval coming in at $18,127,555. Of the expenditures, the largest outlay is in the ‘Safety’ portion of the budget, primarily funding the police department, with that budget topping out over $3.3 million. Next in line is the city’s Public Works Department, at more than $715,000.



Next week, a look at the top stories from the second half of the year July through December, 2021.

e potholders
Young artists Adeline Griffin, 8, and brother Keaton, 4, work to create colorful potholders that they can give to mom for Mother’s Day on May 9; it was one of the projects at the Sunday in the Park event in Escalon on May 2. Marg Jackson/The Times
fire hose
After being ‘dispatched’ to a call of a structure fire, students at Escalon High School don their turnout gear and, in this case, pull a hose to begin laying it down for the attack. Looking on is instructor Seth Davis. Marg Jackson/The Times
CK staff
It was a celebration 25 years in the making; the staff at Escalon’s Country Kids Child Development Center took a moment early in the year to pose for a photo as the local business marked its 25th anniversary. The preschool/day care center observed the anniversary with some special sweet treats for staff and students alike. Country Kids is among the essential businesses that has kept its doors open throughout the pandemic. They initially opened in January of 1996. Photo Contributed