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Working with passionate folks
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There’s no better job than working with the community as a writer and a photographer and never knowing what is going to be next on the agenda for better or worse in the course of a 24-hour period.

You find out what’s important to folks – adults and children alike – and the source of their passions in what they do for others.  For the adults their character is usually formed by an elementary school teacher or a caring grandparent who demonstrated compassion early in their lives.

From Manteca, Ripon and Escalon PD to the Highway Patrol along with doing personal features in the community, it is always the best in getting a hint of what those professionals feel and how they have handled their positives and negatives in their lives. Developing a trust with law enforcement has been quite an experience – and something of a challenge – in trying hard not to burn a case that is still under investigation by printing what is not really necessary for the public to immediately know in detail.

In the past it has been necessary to interview witnesses and neighbors to get to the basics, to get the facts, but it is also important to further research what you have been told and judge its credibility and locate other corroborating sources.  

Friday morning I went to the Stockton Office of the Highway Patrol to cover the awarding of a hero award to one of the officers during the morning briefing of the troops in from the street.  Of additional merit was that I got to meet an assistant chief of the Patrol who oversees half a dozen offices in the valley and the Bay Area.  Surprised to see the chief was a woman but soon realized why she was picked for the position as she handled herself well.  Chief Jonni Fenner had once served as a CHP traffic officer out of the Stockton office on Ad Art Road just off of Cherokee, near Highway 99.

I also got to meet the relatively new commander, Captain Barry Koenig, of the Stockton office who oversees more than three dozen officers on the county roads and freeways on a daily basis.  My first contact with the patrol office in Stockton was in the late 1960s when I saw some 75 officers covering San Joaquin County’s roads and freeways.  We now have a whole lot more traffic where the CHP officers are attempting to keep them safe with fewer traffic officers who are doing a good job.

It’s been a long time since I have gotten a ticket from the CHP – not my fault.  That was back in 1957 when I was driving north on Lakewood Boulevard in the Downey area of Southern California.  It was a rush trip to pick up my girlfriend in Pasadena at the end of her shift where she worked at her grandmother’s dress shop – and I was late.

To my chagrin two CHP motor officers showed up in my rearview mirror with their red lights glowing brightly in my direction along with an embarrassing pair of sirens.  Having pushed on beyond the 45 mile an hour speed limit, I accepted the citation with a face probably as red as their lights along with a simple “Thank You.”  That girlfriend, now my bride of 55 years, couldn’t understand why I was late in picking her up that night.

Also on Friday, it was fantastic to watch the opening of a new vintage café in downtown Ripon that was slated for 10 a.m. When I drove down Main Street, I was surprised to see a crowd gathered outside the front door of the little café.  The staff was scurrying around the dining room as I slipped in the back door with their feet not touching the floor.  They seemed to be in awe that so many people were there for their first day opening.  I later learned that they had more than 65 paying customers in the first three hours.

And then this past week, with our editor Dennis Wyatt on vacation, we had sports editor Jonamar Jacinto putting out the paper.  Jonamar was on his toes doing a terrific job in Wyatt’s absence.  The paper is fortunate to have a back up editor of his caliber.

Having met two more pros this week in their own professions and avocations this week, I feel that life is good in the community seeing people with passions in what they do.  One was Jack Harvey, DPM, a Manteca grad who is setting up shop as a foot doctor and CHP Officer Justin Miller who has just medaled in a police and fire officers’ competitions in Fairfax, Virginia.

It’s a pleasure to say we have the best in just about every category of life in Manteca.  It shows quite clearly for me in their profile interviews – having passion for what they do in life.  And, it’s a great experience for me because I have a front row seat.