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Recapping 2014: News In Review
1015 CW 6
The line was quite long at the cheese tasting tent, which was filled with a variety of cheeses like Mediterranean Gouda, Gorgonzola Mount Ainclin, Habanero Cheddar, and many more. VIRGINIA STILL/The News

As eventful as the first half of 2014 was, here is a look at the last six months in the City of Action that was filled with summer camps, fireworks, luxury theatre upgrades, plans for an annex, festivals, elections, Homecoming, and so much more.



Steady progress is being made at the Riverbank Industrial Complex, as the site near the intersection of Claus and Claribel roads moves more fully toward the private sector.

The Fourth of July holiday is this Friday and fireworks booths have popped up all around Riverbank, with the majority of them raising funds for their cause, ranging from local sports teams to churches. Booths were allowed to open at noon on Saturday, June 28 and can remain open through midnight on July 4, selling the State Fire Marshal-approved Safe and Sane Fireworks.

The Kiwanis Club of Riverbank was chartered Aug. 9, 2012 and was initiated by Kiwanis Division 46 Lieutenant Governor Al Smith. Current Kiwanis President Donna King, along with other members, has been very busy with community events and projects.

Entertainment at this year’s Stanislaus County Fair has all genres of music to entertain the masses including country artist Rodney Atkins and R&B band Kool and the Gang.

The Almond Board of California reported on Tuesday, July 1 that the state should expect a record harvest for this fall’s crop. Based on 860,000 bearing acres – nearly 900 orchards – in the state, the California Almond objective forecast for the 2014-2015 crop is 2.10 billion meat pounds, an all-time high.

The Oakdale Shelter Pet Alliance celebrated its 1000th spay/neuter with an ongoing partnership with the ACT Spay Neuter Clinic in Stockton.

Science Camp took up residence in the Riverbank Teen Center recently, and wrapped up after a week long stint on Friday. Camp had been offered daily from Monday, July 14 through Friday, July 18 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Teen Center and attendees received a special camp T-shirt.

Riverbank Police arrested two men late afternoon on Wednesday, July 16 after serving a search warrant at a local home.

As California winds its way through a prolonged drought, Riverbank residents are reminded to continue water conservation efforts. The city has a ‘water day schedule’ in effect.

While handing out fliers in hopes of locating a missing transient, Riverbank detectives may have found the man; they are waiting for confirmation on the identity of a deceased male they found near the Stanislaus River.

For three days, they learned, explored, worked toward merit badges, bonded … and made memories.

From the archery lessons to life size chess games, polo to swimming, the estimated six dozen Cub Scouts descending on Riverbank this past week packed plenty of excitement into every day.

All 12 auditoriums have been remodeled at the Galaxy Theatre in Riverbank to accommodate new luxury seating that have a larger platform where guests can fully recline and kick their feet up to enjoy a movie. Along with the new luxury seating the remodel also included a new bar area that serves a variety of beer on tap, bottled beer, wine, premium sausages and more.

A Riverbank man was pronounced dead at the scene of a crash early Wednesday morning, July 23, when his truck was pulled out of the Ceres Main canal at Hatch and Geer roads.



A downtown specific plan is being developed for Riverbank and input will be sought from the public on making sure the plan meets all the needed objectives.

The Board of Directors of the Riverbank Historical Society recently received a presentation by city staff members for proposed materials that might be used on the empty lot next door, the site of a proposed annex for the Riverbank Historical Museum on Santa Fe Street.

The Riverbank Athletic Boosters Club is hoping for new members to kick off the 2014-15 school year strong. Kimi Jennings, President of the Athletic Boosters, explained that the club is a non-profit volunteer organization that was founded by parents, primarily of student athletes at the school.

Three candidates are in the running for two available seats on the Riverbank City Council in the November 2014 election.

Earlier this year, the Riverbank City Council agreed to take over the administration of the Cheese and Wine Festival from the Riverbank Rotary Club, who ran the event for several years. The annual festival will continue on the second weekend in October, Oct. 11 and 12 in downtown Riverbank with a new theme this year titled, “Riverbank Cheese, Wine, and Craft Beer Exposition 2014.”

Former principal of California Avenue Elementary, Sean Richey, accepted the position as the Riverbank High School (RHS) Principal starting with the 2014-15 school year.

Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Detectives are investigating the homicide of a 59-year-old man who was found dead in the front yard of a house in the 3700 block of Texas Avenue in Riverbank on Tuesday night, Aug. 5.

Sirens wailed in a multi-alarm response on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 13, as two businesses and a large storage area were engulfed in flames at the corner of Third and Atchison streets in Riverbank. Plumes of smoke could be seen several miles away, both in Oakdale to the east and Escalon to the northwest.

Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management, has signed a $3.9 million Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) with the City of Riverbank and will officially break ground for the massive project later this week.

Riverbank Unified School District has a new principal on the job at California Avenue Elementary School, with Kathy Briggs making a move within the district to take on the job. District Superintendent Daryl Camp said Briggs was offered the opportunity for the principal position at California Avenue after she received administrative credentials.



Former Riverbank Chamber of Commerce president and local banking official Carla Strong is warning consumers about a current scam being utilized in the area. The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office has joined many other law enforcement agencies nationwide by partnering with The Omega Group and implementing CrimeMapping.

A few students at California Avenue Elementary School received new backpacks filled with a variety of school supplies that were donated from the local CVS Pharmacy on Patterson Road in Riverbank.

Flyers were passed out during the Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago with information about the Riverbank Federated Women’s Club to inform the community about the club and to possibly gain new members. The club was organized in 1966 and was federated in February 1967 with Glenda Alpers as the first president of the club.

The Barber College is finally open for enrollment on Atchison Street in Riverbank and has classes Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to accommodate the working student. The shop is also open for haircuts and barber services Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

With approximately 28 Americans, the United States made a sound showing at the Veterans World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia at the end of August. That contingent included Riverbank High School math teacher Kevin Hejnal, who took second place in Division E Freestyle wrestling at 76 kilos, which is at a weight of about 167 pounds.

A whole new world has opened up for one Riverbank family and their new – although temporary – houseguest. World Heritage Representative Carol Berger lined up Roberta and Richard Nelson with an exchange student from China named Dingyi Zhang, who likes to be called ‘Must’ and is currently attending Riverbank High School.

Recent discussions centering on the Mello-Roos Community Facilities District Act has caused quite the stir with residents in the Riverbank community.

Stanislaus Sheriff’s investigators announced a Riverbank man wanted in connection with a homicide last month that left a 59-year-old man dead was arrested Wednesday night, Sept. 10 in Turlock. Homicide detectives arrested Isaac Vaughn, 33, of Riverbank as he left a Walmart at 2480 Geer Road in Turlock.

After 22 years of service, Deputy Sheriff Gary Vernon will be moving on to a new adventure with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) as a special agent where he will be investigating thefts and crime. Riverbank City Manager Jill Anderson and city staff organized a farewell party for Vernon on Friday afternoon at City Hall which included food, beverages, and desserts.

An effort that got started a few months ago has taken solid hold locally and now has a full slate of officers, as the Mid-Cal Blue Star Mothers are now recognized as an official group within the military family support organization.

A wide variety of events had the teens in the Riverbank community entertained for a few hours of food and fun on Saturday, Sept. 20 at the Teen Center, the gathering observing its third year. Teen Fest is hosted by the City of Riverbank’s Parks and Recreation Department at no charge to celebrate the youth in the community.

An unsettling day for local school children on Tuesday, Sept. 23 had them locked down in their classrooms at California Avenue Elementary. By the end of the drama, one man was under arrest for threatening the youngsters, though no one was injured.



Tattoo shop business license applications have caused quite a stir in the City of Riverbank recently, with four requests hitting the City Manager’s desk within a two week period.

The Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District has a balanced budget without an increased assessment this year and the contract with the Oakdale Fire Protection District and Oakdale City has begun, according to Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District Board of Directors member Michelle Guzman.

Visitors by the thousands spent some time exploring downtown Riverbank this past weekend, in town for the annual Cheese and Wine Exposition hosted by the City of Riverbank. The City of Riverbank continued the annual event that has been a tradition in Riverbank since 1977 after the Riverbank Rotary Club expressed that they no longer had resources to continue sponsoring the event.

Election Day on Nov. 4 is fast approaching and there are three people running for two seats on the city council of Riverbank: Incumbent Cal Campbell, Incumbent Leanne Jones Cruz, and candidate Larry King.

The theme for this year’s Fall Homecoming week was “Bruins Drive to Victory” which was filled with several activities and events throughout the week of Oct. 6 through Oct. 10.

Already on the schedule for early May of 2015, planning has started for Riverbank’s next Relay For Life event to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Riverbank residents are urged to participate in the Great California ShakeOut Earthquake Drill on Oct. 16.

If you dared yourself to take a spooky ride through the woods of Jacob Myers Park in Riverbank then you were probably on the Haunted Hayride this past weekend.

Celebrating eight years of keeping the “Lights On” for Riverbank Unified School District students in the after school program led by Project A.C.T.I.O.N. (Afterschool Care Together In Our Neighborhoods) at all campuses within the district, the community joined in a celebration on Friday.



A pair of accidents claimed two lives in Riverbank this past week, one in a car crash and the other on the train tracks

The California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC), an agency within the California Environmental Protection Agency filed a civil complaint against the United States Army for violations of California hazardous waste control laws at the Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant with the Stanislaus County Superior Court. The site on Claus Road is currently known as the Riverbank Industrial Complex and is home to a variety of businesses.

The votes are in and the community of Riverbank has re-elected incumbent Riverbank City Council member Cal Campbell to one of the two available council seats for a new four-year term.

Riverbank High School FHA-HERO members have been very active since the start of the 2014-15 school year, led by Nena Sandoval, FHA-HERO Club Advisor. The officers attended an Officer Training session in Modesto where there were 15 schools from the region that were represented with 80 students and advisors.

A new opportunity and adventure awaits Riverbank High School junior Kenia Garcia after receiving a letter stating that she had been selected to participate in the 2014 Miss Teen Stockton/Sacramento pageant competition

A little over 30 years ago a few ladies saw a need in the Riverbank community and started a social service group called Riverbank Christian Food Sharing to provide food assistance to those in need. The ladies would load the trunks of their cars with food and go from house to house delivering food to families that could use a little bit more food to get them through.

With 1,678 votes, incumbent Riverbank City Councilwoman Leanne Jones Cruz was voted back into office during the 2014 General Election, held on Nov. 4. In a three-way race for two open council seats, Cruz and fellow incumbent Cal Campbell earned the posts, both outpolling challenger Larry King.

Twin brothers, Emmanuel and Adan Chavez, have been through quite a rough life so far but have managed to stay focused on school and sports. Specifically, the sport of running. The Riverbank High School cross country duo qualified for the State Cross Country Meet, with Adan placing second and Emmanuel placing fifth as individuals at the Section meet earlier this month. They will go on to represent the high school at the Saturday, Nov. 29 meet in Fresno.

‘Tis the season to be giving and thank goodness for groups like Riverbank Cares, which is a combined effort from resources including Riverbank Christian Food Sharing, St. Vincent De Paul, Rotary and the City of Riverbank that continue to provide food for the less fortunate within the Riverbank community during the holiday season.

Looking to be more ‘user friendly’ and accessible as well as informational, members of the Riverbank City Council have adopted a resolution drawing from the city’s reserve fund to pay for an overhaul of the city’s website,

On Sunday evening, Nov. 30 shortly after 9:30 p.m., the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District responded to a report of a single story home on fire in the 6000 block of Central Avenue in Riverbank.



Samaritan’s Purse sponsors Operation Christmas Child and the local effort was in full effect throughout the month of November at Riverbank High School with Nena Sandoval, Foods and Nutrition/Culinary Arts ROP, FHA-HERO Advisor and the FHA-HERO members participating in to help families all over the globe.

The Riverbank Federated Women’s Club packed the city’s Community Center on Santa Fe Street as it hosted the Annual Holiday Table Decorating Luncheon this past weekend. The fundraiser for the club helps support the club’s scholastic opportunities for local students.

Riverbank Unified School District’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 2 was canceled that day, but continued to Friday, Dec. 5 with a full agenda, board reorganization, numerous consent items, and presentations.

The election of officers for the board of trustees was held for the coming year and Susan Taylor was appointed as Board President, Suzanne Dean was elected as Clerk of the Board, and Connie Gilbert will be the Representative to Stanislaus County Committee for School District Reorganization.

Riverbank Police Services deputies were dispatched to the Shell Gas Station in the 3100 block of Atchison Street in Riverbank for a robbery that occurred at the business on Thursday, Nov. 27.

Like many communities around the Central Valley, Riverbank was inundated by a winter storm system late last week, with upwards of three inches of rain over a two-day period, along with high winds. More rain is also in the forecast for this week.

A Modesto woman who worked for years at a Riverbank firm has been arrested on suspicion of embezzling from the company. According to information from the Riverbank Police Services, 35-year-old Lori Gonsalves of Modesto was arrested on Thursday, Dec. 11 by Riverbank Police Services Detectives for embezzlement in excess of $300,000 from her employer.

Driving through the Crossroads Shopping Center on Thursday, Dec. 18 you may have noticed a few sheriff’s vehicles and a S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) truck festively decorated with a bow on the grill along Kohl’s store front.

Even though the winds and rain and flooding across Northern California forced cancellation of holiday celebrations in other areas in recent weeks, the Old Time Christmas at the Plaza, in downtown Riverbank, managed to sneak in between waves of storms.