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Denair flag boy returns from Washington, D.C. trip

DENAIR, CA -- Cody Alicea said he was only trying to get attention for his fishing pole fundraiser when he became a national symbol for American patriotism.

"I put the American flag on my bike to show people that I was selling raffle tickets for handmade fishing poles to pay for my class trip to Washington, DC," said Alicea.

The 14-year-old's dream of a Capitol visit came true even before the May trip. He was the special guest of newly elected Congressman Jeff Denham two weeks ago for Denham's inauguration.

"My grandfather and I got a free trip to see Denham's inauguration and we got to see DC for three days," said Alicea.

Alicea's trip included sightseeing around the National Mall, Capitol Building, White House and a concert by LeAnn Rimes.

"It was really cool. When we go, I'll probably be able to show my classmates things."

Students compete in Nat'l Engineers Week regional finals

Students compete in Nat'l Engineers Week regional finals

TURLOCK - Middle school students from Northern California schools will compete in the National Engineers Week Future City Competition regional finals on Saturday, Jan. 22 from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. at CSU Stanislaus, One University Circle in Turlock.

Students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades have created future cities in large tabletop models as part of the non-profit educational program's competition. Students have worked with a teacher and volunteer engineer mentor since September to present and defend their cities to judges at the regional finals.

This year's theme is "Providing a Reliable and Effective Health Care Product or System that Improves a Sick, Injured, or Disabled Patient's Quality of Life and Comfort."A

The winning team will go to Washington, D.C. to compete against 34 other regions at Future City National Finals from Feb.

Westley truck stop fire ruled accidental

SLIDESHOW: Images of the damage

WESTLEY, CA - The fire that destroyed a Stanislaus County truck stop early Thursday morning was an accident, according to Modesto Fire Department Interim Chief Mike Kraus.  Kraus said the department doesn't have a definitive cause for the fire, but investigators can't rule out electrical problems.  The fire destoryed Joe's Travel Plaza at 4415 Howard Road along Interstate 5 in Westley.

Authorities said hazardous runoff from the fire threatened the Delta-Mendota Canal. According to Sgt. John Walker with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, unknown chemicals in the burned building have contaminated the water, which is draining into the nearby canal.

Stanislaus County Fair replacement heifer deadline

Stanislaus County Fair replacement heifer deadline

TURLOCK - Entry deadlines approaching fast for Replacement Heifer exhibitors at the 2011 Stanislaus County Fair, scheduled to open on July 15 for a 10-day run. The 44th Annual Replacement Heifer Sale will take place on Friday, July 22.

The application deadline for Replacement Heifers for 1-year projects and the second year of a 2-year project is Thursday, Jan. 20 by 5 p.m. Applications for first year of a 2-year project are due on Thursday, May 19 by 5 p.m.

For registration forms and complete rules and requirements, stop by the Stanislaus County Fair office at 900 North Broadway in Turlock or call (209) 668-1333 ext. 303.

For more information about purchasing tickets to the fair, visit www.stancofair.com. To receive future fair announcements by text message, text the word "FAIR" to 82672. Fair enthusiasts can also follow how the 2011 Fair is developing at twitter.com/stancofair.

Turlock to host 45th Annual Gem, Jewelry & Rock Show

Turlock to host 45th Annual Gem, Jewelry & Rock Show

 

TURLOCK - The Mother Lode Mineral Society will host the 45th Annual Gem, Jewelry and Rock show on March 12 and 13, at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds located at 900 North Broadway in Turlock.

Proceeds from the show will go to providing scholarships for earth science students, supporting college classes with equipment and instruction and doing classroom presentations for K-12 about the rock cycle, minerals and fossils.

The annual show features everything from dinosaur fossil exhibits to an expert editor for the magazine "Rock & Gem." Attendees will have the opportunity to make unique jewelry out of natural rocks and gemstones.

To learn more about how you can support the local community, visit www.turlockgemshow.com and www.motherlodemineralsociety.com.

Oakdale man faces 10 years in prison for firearm charge

FRESNO - Oakdale resident Adolio Garcia, 32, pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession of a firearm after having committed a domestic violence crime.

U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Lauren Horwood said according to court documents Garcia was caught with two semi-automatic handguns, a rifle and a double-barrel shotgun in his possession. Under federal law, Garcia is not permitted to possess firearms because of a 2006 conviction for domestic violence in Stanislaus County.

Garcia faces a maximum prison term of 10 years and a fine of $250,000, said Horwood. Garcia's sentencing will be determined after the court considers any applicable statutory factors that may affect the charges.

Oakdale mayor holds city budget forum

Oakdale mayor holds city budget forum

OAKDALE - Newly-elected mayor Pat Paul held a public forum Monday evening at the Oakdale Community Center, to discuss the city's budget and improvements within the city. Though numerous topics were touched on, the outstanding issues were 1) city management, 2) tourism and new businesses, 3) volunteers and 4) making Oakdale a destination city.

About 40 residents  and volunteers showed up to give their input, ideas and voice their concerns to the mayor and councilmembers. After breaking out into sub-groups to highlight specific ways the city could improve its revenue, the group gathered together to hash out common issues.

"If we're the 'cowboy capitol' what are we going to do to capitalize on that title," said Paul.

Stanislaus County holiday DUI patrols net 154 arrests

 

TURLOCK, CA - A Stanislaus County Winter Holiday DUI crackdown netted 154 arrests, compared to 146 DUI arrests during the same time period last year.

From Friday, Dec. 17, 2010 to Sunday, Jan. 2, law enforcement officers from 12 county agencies specifically patrolled the streets for commuters driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Turlock police spokesman Sgt. Nino Amirfar said officials will be conducting more "Avoid the DUI" efforts throughout Stanislaus County and surrounding regions again during Super Bowl Sunday in February and again for local St. Patrick's Day festivities in March.

Drivers are encouraged to help make your community safer by calling 911 if you see or encounter a drunk driver on the road.

Newman soldier memorialized

NEWMAN, CA - Tony "T.J." Gonzales, who died in Iraq two years ago, was memorialized with a plaque structure Tuesday at the Newman Police Department in Stanislaus County. SLIDESHOW: Tony Gonzales memorial 

Gonzales was 20 years old when he died Dec. 28, 2008, during a roadside bombing.  He was the first and only person from Newman to die in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Gonzales hoped for a career in law enforcement when he finished with the military.  The memorial, unveiled before a large group of Newman residents, sits outside the Newman Police Department.

His parents and three sisters were in the audience.

"Every time I read about a casualty, I relive that feeling.  I've walked in their shoes.  My heart cries for them," said father Tony Gonzales.

CSU Stanislaus faculty members win Fulbright awards

CSU Stanislaus faculty members win Fulbright awards

TURLOCK – Two California State University, Stanislaus faculty members are among the first scholars to take part in a newly created Fulbright award program.

Dr. Phyllis Gerstenfeld of the Criminal Justice Department and Dr. John Sumser of the Communication Studies Department are among the 1,200 U.S. experts traveling abroad this year on a flagship Fulbright Scholar academic exchange program.

Fulbright offers several different kinds of grants, and is widely recognized as one of the most distinguished award programs in the world.

Dr. Gerstenfeld will spend five months studying in Croatia. She will also teach classes on research methods and criminal justice in film at the University of Zagreb. The Fulbright Scholars program makes it easy for faculty to bring their families along on their travels, so Dr. Gerstenfeld will be accompanied by her 11-year-old daughter.

Dr.