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Final Look Back At 2015 Headlines
Science and Fun Camp participants in Riverbank are shown here doing an experiment with Mentos and soda, which had all the campers focused and waiting for a possible burst of liquid. The anticipated eruption did not happen in this case, the experiment producing only a little fizzle. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS


From the summer heat to the holiday festivities, reflecting on the final six months of the year in the City of Action includes summer camps, farmers markets, budgets, a revised City website, new businesses and so much more. In Part Two of our Year in Review feature, here are some of the standout moments from July through December in The News.



An updated, modernized version of the City of Riverbank website has debuted,, marking the first time in nearly a decade that the site has been revised. The design of the new site was approved to keep up with changes that have occurred in how web sites operate, including newer browser specifications and the addition of Internet use by smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices. The old city website did not display or operate well on those newer devices.

The answer may not have always been clear to Cesar Martinez on his journey of becoming a priest but after several signs he said came from God and a well-traveled road, his path became a reality. Martinez has completed all the requirements for priesthood and will be serving at a church in Stockton called the Cathedral of the Annunciation.

In spite of the soaring temperatures of the past week, the Riverbank Farmers Market continued Wednesday, July 1 with a popular event returning to Community Center Park along with it. With the thermometer registering over 100 degrees earlier in the week, other events around the Central Valley were either canceled or re-scheduled, but the market went on as usual, helped by overcast skies in the afternoon and an increasing breeze as the evening wore on.

The City of Riverbank’s Budget for the 2015-16 Fiscal Year was approved by members of the Riverbank City Council at the final regular meeting in June, to take effect with the start of the new fiscal year. Marisela Garcia, City of Riverbank Director of Finance, presented an overview of the budget proposal to the council members and attendees, covering such areas as the General Fund, Special Revenue Funds, System Development Fee Funds, Housing Funds, Sewer Enterprise Funds and Water Enterprise Funds. The 2015-16 fiscal year runs from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.

Two new fire engines arrived in early June for the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District (SCFPD) that serves the Riverbank community and officials said both units should be in service at the end of this month.

As construction continues at the already busy Crossroads Shopping Center, there are areas in Riverbank that are undeveloped and in other portions of the community, there are businesses being constructed along with some proposed new developments. On the corner of Claribel Road and Oakdale Road in the Crossroads Shopping Center next to the Starbucks, progress is being made on a new commercial ‘pad’ that restaurants and retail stores may eventually call home.



Jailed on $5 million bail, a Riverbank man will face his next court appearance later this month. He is being held on a charge of murder in connection with the death of his wife in late July. To hear the daughter and a good friend of murder suspect Roque Palomino, 53, murdering his wife of 27 years, Cynthia D. Palomino, 49, would be one of the last things they thought would have ever occurred.

Several members of the community met at the Riverbank Community Center on Thursday, July 30 to hear Police Chief Erin Kiely and members of the police department’s street crimes unit discuss city gang awareness. The program, organized by Vice-Mayor Darlene Barber-Martinez, is part of the city’s strategic plan for public safety.

With backpacks filled with school supplies, lunch boxes brimming with goodies, and youngsters in the Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) dressed as sharp as the tip of their pencils, the 2015-16 school year has begun. Summer break is over and the beginning of a new academic year started on Monday, Aug. 10.

Public Health officials are reporting the first human case of West Nile Virus confirmed in Stanislaus County this year. They have received a report of a 52-year-old female hospitalized with the West Nile Virus (WNV). As of Aug. 7, there have been 18 human cases in California.

It’s a summer where the continuing drought in California is squeezing everyone’s lifestyle, curtailing water deliveries to farmers and asking voluntary cutbacks from residents, but Riverbank homeowners and businesses might be paying more for both water and sewer over the next five years. The City of Riverbank has issued a notice of the proposed increases and scheduled public hearings for the next meeting, Tuesday, Aug. 25, at the council chambers in City Hall, 6707 Third St., downtown.

A new school year brings new students, new teachers and, in some cases, new administrators like the new Assistant Principal, Dalila Hernandez, who brings 14 years of experience to the position at Riverbank High School. Hernandez was the Assistant Principal at Bret Harte Union High School in Angels Camp for the past eight years where she said discipline was a priority along with academic counseling.



The Riverbank Chamber of Commerce ends its Farmers Market summer session with one final Concert in the Park tonight at the city’s Community Center on Santa Fe Street. The festivities run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Community Center Park, with singer Totally Frank performing on the outdoor stage. He will bring his brand of soft rock, pop and country music to the season finale event.

Living in a multicultural environment where there may be multiple languages being spoken created a need for families to have more options available. It was a need that Riverbank Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp thought to fill by building an additional program that students can take advantage of called Riverbank Academy of Multilingual Education (R.A.M.E.).

The newly constructed artificial running surface that makes up the All-Weather Track should provide track and field athletes a consistent surface through all types of weather. To celebrate completion of the track, Riverbank High School (RHS) hosted a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the occasion this past week.

Several Riverbank High School cross country runners will be lacing up their running shoes this weekend … but they will be doing it in Hawaii, not a local race venue. For the third time in the past four years, a contingent of Bruins, along with coaches and chaperones, will travel to the Iolani Invitational on the island of Oahu, said coach Monte Wood.

Teens in the Riverbank community were treated to a day filled with activities, food and fun this past Saturday at the Teen Center, hosted by the City of Riverbank’s Parks and Recreation Department for the fourth year. There were approximately 35 to 40 teens that attended the free event that is thrown to celebrate the teens in the community. New this year to the event was a photo booth that instantly printed pictures that guests could take home as a memento of the occasion.

Construction continues on the IMAX addition of the Galaxy Luxury Plus Theatre in Riverbank that is predicted to be completed in January or February, 2016. The new addition of the IMAX will have approximately 440 seats, 3D technology, leather reclining chairs, and a huge wall to wall screen.

The Riverbank Chamber of Commerce organized a breakfast and presentation by Galaxy CEO Frank Rimkus, updating the community on the IMAX theatre and the business opportunity it will bring. The gathering was served up at Galaxy on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

For the past five years, Cardozo Middle School students have been experiencing science with a twist, climbing onboard a mobile lab called Ag in Motion where they have a firsthand experience performing science experiments. The 53-foot-long tractor trailer has the latest technology onboard and students complete the labs within the timeframe allotted during the school day.



More meetings have been scheduled to discuss election reform in the City of Riverbank. City residents should be receiving notices in the mail for three District Election Forums local officials have scheduled throughout October.

An emergency change was made to the Restricted Water Use during Peak Periods Ordinance, the action coming in late September. This change is in response to the State of California’s declaration of a drought emergency, city officials said, and the need to meet a 32 percent reduction in water usage.

Fall 2015 Homecoming Week in Riverbank was filled with events, spirit, dress up days, golf cart decoration, a parade and football for the students at Riverbank High School and the community. New to RHS this year is Gina Tonarelli, Activities Director and counselor, who directed the leadership class in putting on a fun filled week.

The crowds who flocked to downtown Riverbank this past weekend were greeted with sunny skies and warm temperatures, conducive to the fun they expected to have at the annual Cheese and Wine Exposition. On Saturday, they strolled up and down the festival grounds, stopping by the many vendor booths, pausing to enjoy tunes from local musicians, or checking out the many attractions of the carnival, before lining up for the tasting sessions, this year, held in and around the Masonic Hall at Second and Santa Fe streets.

A year-old stain on the heart of downtown Riverbank was finally removed when a crew and some heavy equipment worked this past week to demolish the Serv-All Liquor Store and clothing store next to it. The businesses had been severely damaged in a fire that raged on the corner at Atchison and Third streets in August, 2014.

The City of Riverbank has Strategic Planning Sessions twice a year, with Riverbank City Council members and the mayor meeting with department heads to chart progress and establish their intentions to meet specific goals over three years. This fall, the all-day session was held on Oct. 15 at the Riverbank Industrial Complex. The first session of the year was held in March. The most recent three-year plan was begun in 2013 and is set to conclude next year.

As the sun set and clouds rolled in, allowing the moon to peer in to Jacob Myers Park from time to time in Riverbank for the spirited Haunted Hayride this past weekend, several guests gathered to witness the ominous scare sites that depicted the scary movie theme. The City of Riverbank has hosted the event for the past few years which includes several volunteers, a couple meetings, creativity, and whole lot of fun. Haunted Hayride ran both Friday and Saturday nights, Oct. 23 and 24.



For the first time in a very long time, the Stanislaus County Veterans Commission held its monthly meeting in Riverbank. It brought representatives of the many veterans service organizations from around the county to the Riverbank City Council Chambers on Monday, Oct. 26. The group recognized the efforts of Riverbank resident Diane Talbert and her group, Royal Neighbors, for its service to veterans of the area.

A sophomore at Riverbank High School entered a national essay contest last year and ended up winning. Among other accolades, she won a trip to the World Series in Kansas City last week. Kayla Savory, as a 15-year-old freshman in Mrs. Stacy Bauer’s English class last year, wrote an essay about overcoming obstacles. It was entered in a national “Breaking Barriers” essay contest, and she won. With the win came an all-expense paid trip to the World Series, and last week, Kayla was recognized before Game 2 of the Royals-Mets series started.

The City of Tracy has named Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District Chief Randall Bradley as its new fire chief to head its 65-staff, seven station department effective Dec. 1.

Honoring veterans for their service and sacrifice, the Riverbank Royal Neighbors of America hosted its annual Veterans Luncheon on Saturday. This year marked the eighth annual dinner, and it was hosted at the city’s Community Center, which was wall to wall with people for the noontime gathering.

The recent edition of Memories Day through the Riverbank Historical Society featured a group of city mayors. Some have served recently, some years ago. Current Mayor Richard O’Brien and six former mayors came to the Historical Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 10, to discuss what happened during their term. Included were Allen Trawick, Bill Mitchell, Charles Neal, Dave White, Bill O’Brien, and Virginia Madueño.

With an upswing in the economy, and the demand for law enforcement officers rising as once-depleted departments move to replenish their ranks, Sheriff Adam Christianson and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department have reinstituted the local police academy in Stanislaus County.

Riverbank High School took on a challenge earlier this month, one that started on Monday, Nov. 16 and lasted until Friday, Nov. 20 where all second period classes were asked to collect canned goods for those in need this holiday season. Counselor and Leadership Advisor Gina Tonarelli and Lynda Silva, Riverbank Christian Food Sharing Co-Chair, collaborated on this effort so that anyone less fortunate can savor a holiday meal.



Friends, neighbors and family members flocked to the streets of Downtown Riverbank over the weekend. Not to partake of Thanksgiving leftovers, but to kick off the local celebration of Christmas with a parade and crafts faire on the streets of the ‘City of Action.’ The Annual Christmas Parade is in its 47th year, now winding from the Community Center down Santa Fe, around Second and back up Stanislaus Street.

With the awareness and threat of global terrorism on the forefront, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson has just returned from a best practices counter-terrorism program in Israel. As part of the course which ran from Nov. 15-24, he met with his Israeli counterparts on how to make Stanislaus County and America safer. With the rise of ISIS and other fanatic organizations – as was most recently seen in Paris – this type of program is more important than ever, according to sheriff’s department officials.

The glow from the church in the dark evening sky and the humming of conversation along with laughter was the welcome when entering the Family Christmas Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 5 held at the Community Praise Tabernacle church on Stanislaus Street in Riverbank. A family feast was served up for the community hosted by Community Praise Tabernacle and catered by Grillin & Chillin out of Tracy.

Riverbank High School video game design students were recently taken on an adventure to EA Sports for a day to experience the video game industry and learn firsthand from the professionals. Teaching three periods at Riverbank High School, Jon Gianelli has established a 3D Video Game class offered to students for the first time this year.

Red Ribbon Week 2015 had full participation from Cardozo Middle School students and staff with a theme of “Superheroes say KAPOW to Drugs,” which led them to a second place showing for the Middle School Division during the week long competition.

The driver that caused the death of a 64-year-old Oakdale pedestrian in February and then fled the scene has been sentenced to seven years in state prison. Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Ricardo Cordova sentenced Gabriel Bocanegra, 25, of Riverbank, to the seven-year term for vehicular homicide with gross negligence and felony hit and run causing death as a result of a no-contest plea earlier this month. A no-contest plea, while not a guilty plea, has the same immediate effect as pleading guilty.

The most recent Riverbank City Council meeting saw the establishment and scheduling of District Elections for council seats to begin with the November 2016 General Municipal Election. The city presently elects its representatives on an at-large basis, and they represent all citizens in the city. The new ‘by-district’ elections will be phased in, with the two seats on the ballot next year, representing District 2 and District 4. Council member Jeanine Tucker and Vice Mayor Darlene Barber-Martinez’s terms both expire in 2016.

For the past few years a group known as Riverbank Cares has joined forces to bring families in Riverbank a complete holiday meal along with a few extra tidings. This year, the distribution to help make that happen was held this past Friday, Dec. 18. Normally the food giveaway is held at the Community Center, however this year the center was booked for another event so Scott McRitchie stepped up and secured the hall at St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church.