The big news in Manteca in 2016: Life goes on.
Yes there was the “big news” things such as the election of Gary Singh — not only the youngest at age 34 to gain a Manteca City Council seat but also the first Punjabi American to do so — as well as Manteca hiring Elena Reyes as the new city manager in July and then putting her on paid leave four months later due to employee complaints.
There was also “big” economic news such as United Parcel Service opening a hub in Lathrop that will ultimately hire 700 workers and Tactical 5.11’s announcement they will relocate 217 employees to a new 406,657-square-foot building in CenterPoint in northwest Manteca in 2017.
But what really counts is the day-to-day news we sometimes take for granted.
It is why high school graduation — and even eighth grade advancement ceremonies— are front page news. The Manteca Unified high school graduations mark the education success of 3,200 plus teens as they prepare for the next phase in their lives.
Among them is perhaps a future council member, an entrepreneur who will create 217 good paying jobs, a manager that will make a yet-to-open distribution center hum, a public servant able to enhance the quality of life without bankrupting taxpayers, or a solider whose heroics will allow others to remain free.
The year 2016 saw Manteca residents remembering why they are free.
It is reflected in each and every one of the 2,400 flags that line Manteca’s streets seven times a year. It is captured in the murals gracing the Manteca Bedquarters wall in downtown. It is demonstrated Memorial Day Weekend as upwards of 30,000 people make the pilgrimage to Woodward Park to remember the fallen, to thank the living, and to celebrate the freedoms they secured.
The real news of what counts — such as kids screaming for joy at the Lincoln Swimming Pool, jumping from a tree into the Stanislaus River as it passes through Ripon, booting a soccer ball, or helping paint a room at the HOPE Family Shelter — filled 2016 as well.
People working to raise families, helping the elderly, mentoring youth, opening their pocketbooks for the less fortunate , and helping neighbors and loved ones deal with the pain of a loss all were part of the important news in the year that just passed.
And when you compose the list of top news stories you can’t leave out Friday night high school football games, weddings, births, the billions of almond blossoms, and the gestures that define humanity.
We make fight incessantly about the outcome of the Nov. 8 election almost two months later but what we will carry through life are those defining moments of humanity.
Some may be the anticipated simple pleasures such as dancing with a 10-year-old daughter at a father-daughter dance.
Others may have been as unexpected as Del Campo High’s football team conspiring to allow East Union High’s Vinny Torrice — a player with Down’ Syndrome — to get a chance not just to finally play in a game but score a 27-yard touchdown on the final play of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs’ opening game. Del Campo won 49-13 but in the big picture everyone on that field was a winner.
Players and coaches from East Union treated Vinny Torrice for what he was — just one of the guys. Players and coaches from Del Campo High also understood there are things more important in life, such as how you treat other people, than simply winning.
We bemoan the loss of entertainment icons, sports figures, and other celebrities.
But the impact they had on the lives of others pales to the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters we lost in 2016.
It is funny how the phrase “life goes on” is often delivered as inferring we still survive in spite of trials and tribulations. But in reality, that is the big story. Life and all of the joy big and small that it brings is what counts.
And in 2016 — as in any year — that is the top story.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org