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Charitable Work Awaits - City Clerk Preps For Retirement
Following 15 years as Riverbank administrative services director and city clerk, Linda Abid Cummings is retiring this December to spend more time on her longtime interests in missionary work and charitable pursuits.

Cummings started work in April of 1996 as an assistant to longtime Public Works Director Randal Dodd who was reputed to know the location of every water and sewer pipe in the city by heart.

"It was very exciting," she said. "I had worked for an engineer in private practice and in a planning department before. But Riverbank's Public Works in those days didn't even have a computer."

She was responsible for devising plans for the department's vehicles to run on compressed natural gas (CNG), a cleaner and less expensive fuel than gasoline, and wrote the grant proposal that brought government funds for Riverbank, Turlock and Stanislaus County to become the first local government fleets in California to operate on CNG.

By 2003, she had been promoted to city clerk and administrative services director, the post upon which she has spent much more of her time than on clerk duties.

"It was interesting to see the city grow. When I arrived, the only traffic light was a single, red flashing one at Atchison and First and the pavement on Patterson Road and over the railroad tracks was simply awful.

"With the Crossroads development starting in 2005, we got four way traffic lights at Oakdale and Patterson. Then a full set of lights were installed at Atchison and First. And now they are all over town."

Galaxy Theatre opening in 2000 was a huge boost for the community, offering a top-notch movie theater that brought visitors from miles around and delighted local residents with its high quality of entertainment.

Cummings vividly remembers the "big flood of 2006" that had people wading knee-deep outside the Bank Building opposite City Hall and caused costly flooding on Terminal Avenue and the surrounding states streets.

Then-City Manager Rich Holmer gathered department heads in a crisis operations room in the recreation office, his wife Chris came up from Modesto to represent the Office of Emergency Services and Gary Hinshaw coordinated the fire and rescue personnel.

Throughout her time with the city, Cummings took off on every holiday to do missionary work in various parts of the world.

During the last 20 years, she has traveled many times to Mexico - sometimes to the same orphanage that former city councilmember Dave White supported - and taken longer trips to Brazil, Fiji, Peru, Venezuela, China and the Ukraine, to mention a few.

She won't give up city administrative services work completely. She will be working part-time for Hughson. But her paramount purpose on retirement is to promote a group called Pure Joy Ministries that she founded several years ago with her husband Randy, who passed away earlier this year.

Pure Joy Ministries, according to its mission statement, is "a nonprofit organization whose main objective is to plant ministries of compassion, mercy and justice. We strive to build, strengthen and sustain family and community life by reaching out with the Love of Christ through music, drama, arts, education and outreach programs."

Her group has bought an 1882 building in West Point in the area where she lives and converted it to a community center with plans to use the center for senior services, arts, music, theater and much needed social services programs.

Supporters can help the group in ways such as construction teams, landscaping, supplies, varsity store volunteering, financial support, fundraising and prayer by contacting 209-293-2340 or getting in touch with by email.