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DAIRY COMES TO AN END

Life at the dairy ends with start of subdivision

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DAIRY COMES TO AN END

Some of the structures, including the barn at the Luiz Dairy, have been torn down as indicated by the chunks of concrete in the foreground.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin/


POSTED September 7, 2013 1:41 a.m.

For the last 25 years, the countryside in southwest Manteca was home to the Cornejo family. Next week, home will be a two-bedroom house on West Yosemite Avenue just a yodel away from the downtown business district.

Progress and urban sprawl has caught up with Jaime and Velma Cornejo. Their two-bedroom trailer home on the Luiz Dairy, in a matter of days, will be razed to make room for one of Manteca’s newest residential subdivision. The old barn is already gone. Bulldozers tore it down Friday. The house next to the barn bit the dust several weeks ago and was the first structure to go.

Jaime was hired as a milker at the Luiz Dairy 25 years ago. The residential accommodation was a job perk.

“The hard thing about it is we’re losing a home, and he’s losing a job,” Velma said of her husband’s employment.

Jaime has been looking for another job since they were informed months ago about the anticipated sale and closure of the Luiz Dairy and acreage around it to make way for development.

 “It’s hard. We’ll have to start all over again,” said Velma who was a stay-at-home mom throughout the time they lived at the dairy. She and her husband have five children, two of whom are married and living on their own in Manteca. Their three children ages 12, 16, and 24, still live at home.

The departure from their countryside abode, said Velma, is particularly “hard on the kids, especially the baby, because they were all born here.”

Jazmin, the Cornejos’ 16-year-old daughter who is a sophomore at Sierra High School, said she does not feel good about not living in a dairy anymore “because I’ve been here my whole life and I have a job.” The Cornejo children all had to do chores at home and at the dairy.

“I helped my brother (Gabriel, 24) in the barn, putting out the hay (for the cows) and bringing in the cows (before milking),” said youngest daughter Maria who attends Nile Garden School.

Jazmin waxed nostalgic about growing up at the dairy. “When I was little, I helped my Dad. I used to follow him around when I was little,” she said.

The Luiz Dairy is not the only property that is being prepped for residential development. The field on the west side of Oleander across from the dairy is already one step ahead of the building process with underground infrastructure currently being installed.

Home of Flo the Cow

The Luiz Dairy, located on the southeast corner of Woodward and Oleander avenues, was started by the parents of Melvin Luiz more than half a century ago. After his father died, he single-handedly took over the dairy operation. The family-owned dairy gained national and international popularity during the 1997 New Year’s floods in South San Joaquin County when one of their cows was stranded atop a trailer floating in the middle of Waltham Slough near Weatherbee Lake. The cow was one of the few that survived at the Luiz grazing fields along Williamson Road at the entrance to the Weatherbee Lake community during the floods. The story of the cow being stranded for days, and the concerted efforts of concerned individuals to feed the cow, became fodder for news in the news media and Flo the Cow was born.

After Flo was rescued, it spent the rest of its days at the Woodward-Oleander dairy. Tragically, while it survived the destructive floods, it could not escape the fatal wound from an arrow that an unknown individual let loose in the dead of night. Flo the Cow was found dead from the fatal blow in the morning.

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