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Library Park restrooms stay locked
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There is a reason why it is not a good idea to unlock the Library Park restrooms unless there is a special event.

And if those who think Manteca is unfairly punishing the homeless who need to use facilities to ask for a key in the nearby Manteca Library to use public restrooms, City Manager Karen McLaughlin possess fairly graphic photos that say otherwise.

 When veterans groups assembled at Library Park on Veterans Day on Nov. 11, McLaughlin allowed the restrooms —that had been closed on her direction  to stop homeless from trashing them — to be unlocked before the 11 a.m. ceremony. By the time parks crews at the end of their shift that afternoon locked them up, the restrooms were a mess.

Workers snapped photos of a liberal number of hypodermic needles used to shoot drugs, a bloody pillow that was left on the floor and paper jammed down the toilets among other things.

It all happened in less than four hours after the veterans and those honoring  them cleared the park.

“If we left them open all day people could not use the restrooms for what they were intended for,” McLaughlin said.

The city shuttered the restrooms last fall after getting repeated complaints about drug use and prostitution taking place in the restrooms. In the past volunteers for street fairs have been startled when they went to unlock the restrooms in early morning hours to find homeless had somehow jimmied the doors and were sleeping inside.

“Park crews weren’t kidding when they said how bad it was,” McLaughlin noted.

There was also concern that constantly picking up needles strewn about every day in the restrooms as well as handling waste containers where they had been tossed could injure municipal workers even though they wear gloves.

For now, McLaughlin is keeping the restrooms shut except for special events such as the farmers’ market and community gatherings. In those cases, the restrooms will open and close to mirror event hours.

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Drought may keep play feature dry

Restrooms aren’t the only feature at Library Park that could remain off limits on a daily basis — at least for the time being.

The fact we are now in a fourth straight year of drought with projections that the water situation this year will be much worse than in 2014 means the interactive water play feature may not be turned on.

It’s a matter that City Manager Karen McLaughlin plans to discuss with the City Council address before it starts warming up. McLaughlin had it turned off last spring noting that it would send a conflicting message when the city was asking residents to cut water use by 20 percent due to the drought.

While she understands a lot of people didn’t like the decision made last year, the drought has changed the rules.

Unlike water play creatures in  Ripon and Lathrop that recycle the water, Manteca’s sends it directly into the water system. The result is hundreds gallons of water could be used if the feature is in use during the course of an hour.

The city opted for the system at Library Park as it was less expensive to build and maintain.

• • •

Escalon family wins $1.3 million

An Escalon resident was a big winner in the Lottery’s California Lucky Life Scratchers game by scoring  the game’s top prize – $1,000 a week for 25 years.

Juvenal Archundia is turning his $1.3 million win into a family affair. Archundia said he often buys tickets and gives them to his daughter. He doesn’t expect this to be any different.

Both his wife, Frances, and daughter Patsy were with Archundia  when he visited the California Lottery’s Sacramento District Office to claim the ticket.

 “She’s young, we’re older,” explained Frances as to why they are considering sharing their good fortune. Of course, there’s a catch.

Patsy is 27 years old, and is employed as an assembly line worker at a manufacturing plant. She also currently lives with her parents. According to the plan being considered, Patsy could buy a house and save the rest. What do mom and dad get out of this? “We’re (going to be) living with her,” Frances said.

Just a week ago the couple was struggling with how they were going to make a car payment. Now Patsy is thinking about what features they could include in their new family home. 

“A pool,” Patsy revealed. “I don’t know how to swim and I want to learn how.”

Archundia purchased the ticket at H & M Food Store, which is located at 2501 Jackson Avenue in Escalon. The retailer  earned a $6,500 bonus for selling that lucky ticket.