By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Year-In-Review Concludes: July To December Look
sr esc
Riding in a horse drawn carriage pulled by Partridge Percheron’s of Oakdale, Senior Mr. and Mrs. Escalon Doug and Diane Alcorn and several family members enjoyed the Saturday morning parade as part of the July Park Fete festivities. Marg Jackson/The Times

From the oppressive heat of summer to the many community events centered around the holiday season, the second half of the year featured a number of notable events. This week, we present the second half of the 2019 Year-In-Review for The Escalon Times, covering the months from July to December.



Most Saturday mornings, you can find a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, honey, baked goods and more, with vendors setting up shop at 2996 McHenry in Escalon. The Small Town Roots Farmers Market runs 9 a.m. to noon during the summer, with an occasional Saturday off.

On what was arguably the hottest weekend of the summer so far, Escalon threw its biggest party of the year. Park Fete, sponsored by the Escalon Lions Club in cooperation with a number of local volunteer individuals and other community service groups and organizations, was hosted on Friday and Saturday, July 12 and 13. Temperatures peaked near the triple digit mark both days, looking as though the midday heat on Saturday likely kept some potential attendees away. The attendance did pick up on Saturday evening, when a light cooling breeze was ushered in.

They hoped to be farther along by now ... but officials with the Escalon Parks Foundation said they are still moving forward and making progress for bringing a skatepark to the community. The foundation hosted its wine booth at the recent Park Fete celebration, July 12 and 13, and sold glasses of wine as a fundraiser, as well as providing information to interested residents about the status of the skatepark project.

With a high temperature of 106 in the forecast for this week in Escalon, city officials said there aren’t any plans to enact cooling centers but there are some options for residents to visit cooling zones if necessary. The National Weather Service lists 106 as the forecast high for Saturday, July 27 and the area could be in for a string of 100-plus degree days. However, according to San Joaquin County Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency Services Shellie Lima, that doesn’t necessarily correlate to cooling centers being open.

The Escalon Lumber and Hardware building – at 1455 First Street – will be going out of the hardware business. New owner Larry Grossi appeared before the Escalon City Council at its recent meeting and updated the council on plans for the site, which has been in business for decades. The goal is to improve the facility so the familiar lumberyard building will continue to mark the spot, but renovate it to offer spots for smaller businesses to locate on the site.



A former captain at Stockton Fire Department has joined the Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District as a new Battalion Chief, replacing Chris Johnson, who retired earlier this year. Dan Morriss is the new arrival, starting on the job on Aug. 1.

Looking back over the last five years, Mike Borges has seen several improvements for the Escalon Police Department. The police chief – who recently marked his fifth anniversary serving the city as its top cop – said the goal is to always keep improving, both in technology and in services provided to the community.

Principals served as crossing guards, some youngsters had difficulty letting their parents go and teachers were busy collecting lunch money. Just another first day of school for the Escalon Unified School District. Classes resumed for the start of the 2019-20 school year on Wednesday, Aug. 7 and overall, officials said there were no major hiccups.

Since taking the oath of office last year, San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow has watched 10 of his deputies leave the department for higher-paying jobs in nearby communities. And with 26 more that are mulling their options as negotiations between the bargaining unit representing them and the county sit at impasse, Withrow made an impassioned plea on Friday for the Board of Supervisors to get involved in the process so that the bleeding of personnel can stop.

She doesn’t get to vote on every item but she is getting a firsthand look at how school business is conducted … and getting an education in community activism. Escalon High School senior Madison Bavaro is serving as this year’s student member of the Escalon Unified School District Board of Trustees, taking her seat alongside district officials and fellow board members.

A three-vehicle accident just north of Riverbank, across the Stanislaus River Bridge into San Joaquin County, claimed the life of a Modesto teenager on Aug. 14. Escalon Fire Department was among the responding agencies, while the Escalon Police Department was also called in to service to divert traffic from leaving Escalon via Santa Fe Road. According to the Stockton CHP, 19-year-old Robert Gonzales Burket of Modesto was the driver of a 1992 Toyota Camry that was westbound on a private road and exited onto Santa Fe – across from the entrance to Jacob Myers Park – without stopping, driving directly into the path of a northbound semi-truck

The turnout was even better than hoped for and organizers said they couldn’t be happier with the recent ‘Senior Ice Cream Social’ hosted at the Escalon Community Center. With a goal to bring seniors together for some fun, socializing, entertainment and even a little networking, organizers hosted their first event on Aug. 21.

It was a fitting tribute to a longtime, beloved community member and devoted Escalon Cougars fan. On Friday, Aug. 30, friends and family gathered at Hogan-Ennis Park to dedicate one of the baseball fields in the name of Emanuel “Sketti” Franceschetti. “Sketti” passed away in December, 2018 at the age of 97. He was a cornerstone of the Escalon community and someone who was a true ambassador of the city.



A Career Technical Education program for Escalon High School students is drawing plenty of interest. Focusing on firefighting and emergency medical technician training, the class is now in its second year. It has benefitted from the donation of an ambulance previously in service with Escalon Community Ambulance. Michael Helton was the teacher for the first year and this school year, Seth Davis has been added to the staff to also teach within the CTE program.

A Riverbank man was killed in a solo vehicle accident along Santa Fe Avenue outside Escalon late night Tuesday, Sept. 3. The crash was reported shortly before 11:30 p.m., according to authorities, with the accident occurring along Santa Fe near Hall Avenue. According to the CHP report, a 2005 Mini Cooper driven by a man identified as Jose Calderon, 46, of Riverbank was southbound when, for an unknown reason, the vehicle left the side of the roadway and went down a small dirt embankment. The vehicle rolled over several times, the Stockton CHP report indicated, and the driver was ejected from the vehicle.

An Escalon High School alum, serving as an assistant coach for the varsity football team, was arrested by Escalon Police on Monday, Sept. 16 and booked at San Joaquin County Jail. Authorities said Victor Carrillo, 26, is facing a felony count of using an underage person for obscene matter and a misdemeanor count of arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes. He was booked at county jail in French Camp late Monday afternoon with bail set at $505,000. He has a court appearance scheduled in Manteca Court on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 18.

The crowd was good, but the weather was a little hot. Still, those who turned out for the Escalon Chamber of Commerce Wine and Brew Stroll on Saturday, Sept. 14 generally agreed it was a good time for all. Officials noted an incident with some disruptive patrons – who likely will not be allowed to return next year – but other than that the event enjoyed favorable reviews.

With the renovations completed at the recently refurbished and expanded American Legion and American Legion Riders post room on Second Street in Escalon, the local Legion members have enjoyed welcoming the community in for events. The most recent was a Saturday night dinner, Sept. 21, which wrapped up a series of monthly gatherings that featured plenty of good food and conversation.



A small crowd gathered in the quad at Escalon High School on Friday afternoon, treated to a display of skills learned by the Escalon Fire Science and EMT class. Now in its second year, the class has seen a huge increase in participants and added a second teacher for this school year.

It was only fitting that the cheerleader got the loudest cheers. Some came from her fellow cheerleaders but many also came from the crowd, as Kaitlyn Gaffney was introduced first as a Homecoming Queen candidate on Friday night, Oct. 4 and then presented with the crown at halftime of the varsity football contest.

Bagpipes, kilts, cabers being tossed, hammers being flung and the Queen sweeping her way across the grounds with her royal entourage … a little bit of Scottish culture and heritage made a stop in Escalon over the weekend. The setting was the inaugural Scottish (Highland) Games hosted by the Escalon Scottish Cultural Association, ESCA, and competitors, spectators and members of a number of different clans all made their way to the Hogan-Ennis Park complex. The Games were staged on both Saturday and Sunday, with a host of other activities accompanying the competitions.

A nearly overflow crowd crammed in to the Escalon Historical Society Museum on Main Street on Saturday afternoon, on hand to help mark the 30th anniversary of the organization. There were proclamations from the City of Escalon, Congressman Josh Harder, Assemblyman Heath Flora and plenty of connecting with old friends at the Oct. 19 festivities.

In a show of support, students from Livingston High School displayed a banner honoring Joana Vazquez, an Escalon High School cheerleader who passed away unexpectedly earlier this month. They offered the banner on Friday night, Oct. 25 at a home game in Livingston hosting Escalon. Joana – a senior – will also be honored at this coming Friday night’s regular season finale, Nov. 1, which will be Senior Night at Escalon High School.



Under bright sunny skies and with temperatures feeling more like June than November, Veterans Day was observed in Escalon with a couple of different events on Monday, Nov. 11. First, a parade stepped off at 10:30 a.m., featuring Grand Marshal George Tavares, a longtime member of the Escalon American Legion Gustafson-Thompson Post 263. Included in the parade were dancers, floats, classic cars, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office mounted patrol unit and more.

A large and vocal crowd cheered Escalon in victory on Saturday, as the varsity volleyball girls capped a run through the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs with the Division IV title. It was the first ever volleyball blue banner in the history of the school, the Lady Cougars outlasting Union Mine 3-2 in the finals on Nov. 9.

Investigations are continuing into a couple of cases involving local businesses, including one where several thousand dollars’ worth of items were stolen. Escalon Police Chie Mike Borges said authorities are following up leads in connection with the theft of items from Kraft-Heinz (Escalon Premier Brands) that was reported on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

A large crowd made its way to the Escalon Community Center on Saturday evening, Nov. 16 to enjoy trying some tasty foods, bidding on silent auction items, sipping some beverages … all to raise money for the Escalon Educational Foundation. The EEF, as it is known, hosted the Edible Expo at the Community Center and brought together a wide variety of vendors with specialty foods, beverages and more.

The annual Stuff the Bus holiday food collection effort to benefit the local CARE food cupboard saw a very successful two days, according to officials. Set up outside MarVal Main Street Market on McHenry Avenue, the drive ran both Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 23 and 24.

Volunteers of all ages turned out to help serve up a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner in Escalon. Hosted at the Escalon Community Center, the meal was offered free on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 28. Those that wanted to and were able could stop by the center anytime between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to enjoy the meal and some fellowship with friends and neighbors. Other meals were home delivered to those who couldn’t get out and some ‘take out’ orders were also picked up.



A half-cent sales tax will be on the March, 2020 ballot in Escalon. City council members on Monday night, Dec. 2, agreed to put the special tax on the ballot, with the vote 4-1 in favor of going to the voters in March. If approved by voters, the tax collected will be earmarked specifically for police purposes.

Authorities have confirmed the death of an Escalon man in a three-car crash outside the city on Friday. Identified as the victim was Bruce Holly, 47, who had to be extricated from his vehicle in the crash that occurred shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6.

A biting chill was in the air and some stray raindrops threatened the proceedings … but the rain did hold off and the ribbon was cut to officially signify the completion of the McHenry Avenue corridor improvements. The ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 11 featured a number of speakers, presentations, kudos to the various agencies involved and a celebration of the successful project.

A commitment to each other – and to themselves – went a long way in making the difference this season. Escalon’s varsity football team powered through a 14-1 campaign, capping it off with a State Championship, brought home in front of their hometown fans at Engel Field on Saturday night, Dec. 14. The Cougars defeated the La Jolla Vikings by a final score of 52-21 and were presented with the Division 4A State Football Trophy.

It was a festive atmosphere in downtown Escalon for the Sunday afternoon Christmas on Main event, a large crowd turning out to enjoy the activities. Originally scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 14 organizers decided to postpone the annual holiday gathering and light parade until Sunday so as not to conflict with the state championship football game hosted in Escalon on Dec. 14.

A total of 176 children – 91 girls and 85 boys – had their Christmas made a little brighter over the weekend. It was the annual Escalon Fire Department toy giveaway, hosted in conjunction with the Escalon American Legion Post 263 and staged at the Coley Avenue firehouse on Saturday morning, Dec. 21.

ice cream
After enjoying ice cream with a variety of toppings, along with some brownies and cookies, attendees at the senior ice cream social took time to fill out a survey regarding activities they would like to see in the community designed especially for them. Marg Jackson/The Times
Kindergarten teacher Jamie Peoples demonstrates some hand signals that she will use to communicate quietly with her class, the teacher and her new students getting to know each other on the first day of school. Marg Jackson/The Times