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City Of Action
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At the Rodin Farms corner of the Farmers Market, not only did they have an assortment of fruits but they also had several nuts and dried fruits along with containers filled with samples for patrons to try. VIRGINIA STILL/The News

There are many items of interest to recall from the first six months of 2014, from a bank robbery to city projects moving forward, Homecoming, sports activities and much more.

Here are a few highlights from January through June that happened in the Riverbank community, captured by the Riverbank News.



Detectives with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Riverbank Police Services are investigating a robbery that occurred in the afternoon on Monday, Dec. 30. At about 2:50 p.m., deputies were dispatched to Delta National Bank in the 2400 block of Patterson Road in the City of Riverbank.

The first snow survey readings of the winter conducted on Jan. 3 are the driest on record – tied with those from January of 2012, according to California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR). With a couple dry winters in a row, the lack of rain to this point in the winter raises concerns in the agriculture industry. That, according to Tom Orvis of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, who noted that the farmers he’s been in contact with are worried.

Lisa Alba, Relay For Life, Riverbank event chair will be hosting a “kick off” party at St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church Parish Hall, 2827 Topeka St., in Riverbank on Saturday, Jan. 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Troy Lane Boutelle, 47, is being held at the Stanislaus County Jail after surrendering to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s office and admitting to robbing the Little Caesar’s Pizza on Patterson Road in Riverbank on Wednesday, Jan. 1 at 9:11 p.m.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a California drought emergency on Friday, Jan. 17. The order was announced at a news conference at the governor’s San Francisco office. He called on California residents to cut their water use by 20 percent and directed state agencies to use less water.

Riverbank High School’s Bruin Bistro along with Central Valley Community Resources (CVCR) have collaborated to bring the senior citizens within the Riverbank community together for an extra day of socializing and are also providing a healthy brunch, prepared by the RHS Culinary students led by instructor Nena Sandoval.

For the start of the new 2014 year, Riverbank City Manager Jill Anderson took the opportunity at the first City Council meeting on Monday, Jan. 13 to give council members an overview of the Strategic Plan and the progress that is being made to reach the city’s goals.

Volunteerism in Riverbank was recognized at the 51st Annual Community Awards Banquet on Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Riverbank Community Center.

Honored for 2013 were Riverbank Save Mart Supermarket as Business of the Year, Youth of the Year was Caroline L. Schauf, and Ida Kennedy was named Citizen of the Year.



The City of Riverbank will be taking over the Cheese and Wine Exposition and Director of Parks and Recreation, Sue Fitzpatrick and staff will be overseeing this year’s event.

The Bruins Den was full of enthusiastic fans, the stage was set for a pivotal Trans-Valley League basketball showdown between rivals and new royalty waited in the wings. Riverbank gathered for its Winter Homecoming, wrapping up a week of activity with the crowning of a queen on Friday night at halftime of the varsity basketball game against the visiting Escalon Cougars. The host Bruins got the win and standout player Rolaun Dunham was named Homecoming King, while cross country sensation Mikayla Florez was crowned Homecoming Queen.

Members of the Riverbank High School FFA won second and third place honors at the Stanislaus-Tuolumne Section FFA Leadership contest held recently at Enochs High School. There were 11 schools from Modesto, Oakdale, and the Sonora area that participated in the event and Riverbank had a large contingent of FFA members on hand for the competition.

Riverbank High School’s Winter Guard, led by band director Joey Aguilar, took second place at a competition held at Enochs High School on Saturday, Feb. 1 and also participated in a larger competition in Bakersfield on Saturday, Feb. 8. The RHS team lost to Central Valley High School out of Ceres by less than a point at the Enochs event and took seventh place in Bakersfield.

Members of the Riverbank community recently gathered at Galaxy Theatres in Riverbank to hear Mayor Richard D. O’Brien’s State of the City Address 2014.

A new member for the board of trustees has been appointed by the governing board of the Riverbank Unified School District, the selection coming at the meeting held on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Connie Gilbert was selected to fill the vacancy that was created after Steve Walker submitted his resignation at the end of December 2013.

Riverbank City Council members have unanimously voted to move their regular meetings from the second and fourth Mondays to the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, the vote coming at the Monday, Feb. 10 meeting. This change will take effect starting in April.



The Riverbank Rotary Club was chartered in October 1979 and is still making its presence known in the Riverbank community with 17 active members.

Riverbank High School senior Brittany Cody was selected to represent Stanislaus County at the regional level after being nominated by Vice Principal Rebecca Evans to the “Every Student Succeeding” program sponsored by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).

The 35th Annual Outstanding Women of Stanislaus County Awards Dinner will be held on Saturday, March 15 at the Assyrian Cultural Center of Bet-Nahrain, 3119 Central Ave., Ceres, hosted by the Stanislaus County Commission for Women (SCCW). Laura C.C. Petersen, the first female principal in the Riverbank Unified School District, passed away in 1982, and will be posthumously honored by the commission in the Women of History category.

A press conference was held in Sacramento on Tuesday, March 11 to introduce Assembly Bill 2054 that would permit electrically motorized skateboards to be used throughout California. This bill was authored by local Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, after touring the Riverbank Industrial Complex and meeting the owners of Intuitive Motion, Geoff Larson and Ben Foreman, who created the Zboard. Olsen represents the 12th Assembly District, which covers portions of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.

The conversations regarding the North County Corridor (NCC) continued with a session in Riverbank earlier this month and were hosted by the NCC Transportation Expressway Authority, Drake Haglan and Associates and Stanislaus County.

The Bruin Boutique Club: bbc has been opened for business for over a year now and has supplied clothing to several students in need at Riverbank High School (RHS). They are currently seeking donations for both male and female clothing, accessories, and shoes.

Modesto police made arrests of a Riverbank couple for what they are calling an “elaborate identity theft operation” earlier this month. The investigation started last December after Jeremy Lapachet, 39, was arrested at Kohl’s Department Store in Modesto for a variety of theft and forgery charges.



Community leaders Mario and Sylvia Jimenez have taken on the Love Riverbank campaign for the past three years. This volunteer faith-based group spawned from the Love Modesto event and the group now benefits the City of Action.

There was love in the air throughout the Riverbank community on Saturday, April 5 with volunteers buzzing about doing their part to Love Riverbank.

Members of the Riverbank Historical Society and community residents celebrated Memories Day on Saturday, March 29 and focused on Mexican American baseball in Riverbank. The gathering was held at the City Council Chambers on Third Street.

Details are still being sorted out in the merger of Oakdale Rural Fire Department with the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District and the City of Oakdale contracting with the fire district for fire services. During a Fire Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday, April 2 in Riverbank, officials from all three agencies discussed particulars as it applies to their respective areas.

Members of the Riverbank High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (NJROTC), led by Master Chief Mike Foster and Chief Warrant Officer Four Harry Rushing, gathered for their 20th annual Military Inspection and Awards Ceremony in the Fauria Gym on Thursday, April 10.

Riverbank teachers Jackie Withrow, California Avenue Elementary; Stacy Blevins, Riverbank High School; and Jon Gianelli, Cardozo Middle School (CMS) were nominated from the Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) for Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year, 2014 sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education and the Modesto Rotary Club.

Riverbank Police Services and the Riverbank City Council joined together at the council meeting on Tuesday, April 8 to recognize 9-year-old Karynah Santana for her courage, composure and compassion during a traffic accident where her younger sister Kamila was struck by a passing vehicle and injured.

The search to lead the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District ended when the district’s board voted 4-0 and announced the appointment of its new fire chief, Randall Bradley, at its April 10 meeting. He will be paid $157,000 per year to lead the department.

The Riverbank Chamber of Commerce was formed on Feb. 23, 1954. The Chamber is celebrating 60 years of service to businesses and the community.

Four interim Planning Commissioners have been officially appointed into office after a vote of 5 to 0 from the Riverbank City Council, which adopted the resolution for the appointments of Joan Stewart, Patricia Hughes, John Degele, and Carlos Villapudua to continue serving on the planning commission at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 22.

The cloud cover occasionally parted, allowing the sun to appear off and on throughout the day during RiverFest at Jacob Myers Park in Riverbank on Saturday, April 26. The festivities started out with a 5K run. RiverFest is a new event to the Riverbank community that combined ‘Beyond Earth Day’ with a splash of outdoor information and activities.

City and Stanislaus County projects in and around the Riverbank community have started or will be starting soon. Development Services Department, Sr. Management Analyst, Kathleen Cleek recently gave Riverbank City Council members a presentation on project updates and the status of upcoming projects, starting with the work that has begun for the signal project at Oakdale and Morrill roads.



Riverbank High School (RHS) juniors and seniors and staff experienced the impact of a devastating drunk driving accident from a staged crash and organized funeral in the school’s version of “Every 15 Minutes” on May 1 and 2.

Riverbank High School math teacher Kevin Hejnal doesn’t just teach about angles. He knows how to use them to his advantage, gaining leverage over his opponents on the wrestling mat. Hejnal is the 2014 U.S. Veterans Freestyle National Champion in Division E at the 85 kg weight class, which is approximately 187 pounds. He recently qualified to move on to the World Championships that will be held in Belgrade, Serbia in August.

The Leadership class at Adelante High School themed last week ‘Alcohol Abuse Awareness’ week and Kristi Santos, Social Science teacher, supervised this student-led campaign.

The first Farmers Market of the 2014 season was staged on Wednesday, May 7 and kicked off the season a month earlier than last year, with Wednesday evenings at the park now filled with vendors, food, and entertainment.

Looking toward the future, members of the Riverbank school board decided by a 4-1 vote to move forward with building an all-weather track at Riverbank High School.

Ana Vigil was sworn in as a trustee for the Riverbank Unified School District at the board meeting on Tuesday, May 6. Vigil applied for the trustee seat that was previously held by former trustee John Mitchell, who resigned in February. The board of trustees made Vigil a provisional appointed trustee in March and formalized it this month.

The 2013-14 school year for Riverbank Unified School District is coming to a close this week. Riverbank High School (RHS) will have graduation ceremonies in the Fauria Gym at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 23. Adelante Continuation High School will have their festivities Wednesday, May 21 at 6:30 p.m. on the RHS campus in the Fauria Gym. Cardozo Middle School will have their commencement on Thursday, May 22 at 7 p.m.

The Riverbank Unified School District’s (RUSD) Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Ms. Christine Facella as the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services at the board meeting on Tuesday, May 6. The official start date for Facella’s new position is Tuesday, July 1.

With flags flapping in the breeze and the honor guard standing at attention, ceremonies to remember those lost in service to their country were staged Monday morning, Memorial Day, at Burwood Cemetery in Escalon.



The official start of summer arrives on Saturday, June 21; however temperatures have been warming up and the lack of rain this past winter has put the state of California in a drought situation. This has caused concern throughout the state and the City of Riverbank is no exception.

Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) students shone at the 3rd Annual Reel Life Film Festival (through the lens of an after school student) that was held on Wednesday, May 14 at the State Theatre hosted by the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE).

On Thursday, June 19 an operation took place involving the Sheriff’s Operation Center (SOC), Oakdale Police Department, Waterford Police Services, Modesto Police Department, and Stanislaus County Probation Department. The organizations collaborated in an effort to conduct numerous probation searches and other self-initiated contacts to deter and suppress gang activity throughout the region.

Tapped for a major honor, the Riverbank Local Redevelopment Authority (RLRA) received the 2014 Base Redevelopment Excellence Award from the Association of Defense Communities (ADC) earlier this month. City Manager Jill Anderson, Councilmember Darlene Barber-Martinez, and Executive Director of the Local Redevelopment Authority, Debbie Olson, traveled to Washington D.C. to personally accept the award.

The actions of a former embattled Stanislaus Consolidated fire chief, who himself was the plaintiff of his own lawsuit last year, has resulted in the approval of settlements in three separate actions filed by subordinate employees in 2011 and 2012.

Outdoor Adventure Camp wrapped up on Friday, June 20 after a weeklong schedule of crafts, outdoor activities, games, and much more. The camp started on Monday, June 16 for youngsters between the ages of 6 and 12 years old, held at Jacob Myers Park from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.


Next week, a review of the news highlights from July through December.