By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Summers Fires, Budget Talks Featured In Second Half Review
Landons 3
The downtown clothing store will be shutting its doors after 70 years of business. Owner Stuart Landon is looking forward to the next chapter in his life and starting new projects in agriculture and the wine industry. Virginia Still/The News

The second half of the year from July through December there were some tragedies, arrests, camps, budgets approved, hot weather, and annual events continued. Riverbank Unified School District made some changes and improvements. There was sadness with the closing of Landon’s, an iconic store, but there were also new businesses opening up their doors. The community certainly stepped up during the holiday season feeding those that are less fortunate, making sure kids had toys under the tree and not forgetting the elderly with Adopt a Grandparent. The last six months of the year saw plenty of action in the City of Action.



A Saturday evening solo vehicle accident along Highway 108 just east of Riverbank resulted in the death of an Oakdale man. Authorities said the 50-year old driver left the roadway for an unknown reason near Mesa Drive, striking a tree.

The Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and the Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) Fiscal Year Budget for the 2017-18 school year have both been approved by the District’s Board of Trustees. The action came at the board’s final regular meeting in June, shortly before the new fiscal year began on July 1.

Youngsters were out in the fresh summer air at Jacob Myers Park for Outdoor Adventure Camp where they participated in an array of activities like nature hikes, crafts, games, water play, and for the first time, a Dinosaurs Rock museum. Although temperatures were a bit warm the shade from the trees, the occasional breeze, and variety made the week very enjoyable for the 21 campers that participated.

The preliminary operating budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18 presented by Assistant City Manager/Director of Finance Marisela Garcia was adopted by the Riverbank City Council a few days ahead of the July 1 start of the new fiscal year. During the presentation to the council on June 27, Garcia gave an overview of the General Fund, Special Revenue Funds, System Development Fee Funds, Housing Funds, Sewer Enterprise Funds, and Water Enterprise Funds.

Even 102-degree heat this past Friday couldn’t put a damper on the enthusiasm of the youngsters and their families who came out for the Bicycle Rodeo and Kids Safety Fair activities. The annual event is part of the Concerts in the Park/Family Night Out/Certified Farmers Market, put on through the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce, with the rodeo and safety activities co-sponsored by Riverbank Police Services and Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Department.

A series of fires along the railroad tracks between Oakdale and Riverbank on Monday morning, July 17 saw a coordinated response from multiple units, with five Stanislaus Consolidated stations sending equipment and personnel. Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Eric DeHart said the first call came in around 9:40 a.m. Monday.

If you drive down Santa Fe Street into the heart of downtown Riverbank, there is a clothing store that has become an iconic fixture in the Oakdale, Escalon, and Riverbank area for more than 70 years.

Landon’s Men’s and Women’s Wear, which opened in 1947 in the historic Del Rio Theater has been selling fashionable apparel options and accessories, from the rugged Levi brand to classy golf polos and women’s fashions for so long, many are going to miss the convenience of popping into a local store for quality apparel.

The business has had two generations run through it and it has seen the changing of the times with big box stores and now the changing of the retail world from Internet giants such as Amazon and eBay.



Riverbank Police Services has given the youth in the area an opportunity to attend the Junior Police Academy, which is a week long course that includes classroom type instruction and hands on demonstrations. The course is for youngsters that are in sixth, seventh, or eighth grades that have a ‘C’ average or better. This year’s academy had 17 students from Modesto, Oakdale, Hughson, and Riverbank, with all students between the ages of 11 to 14.

A Riverbank woman who had been missing since mid-July was found by searchers on Friday, Aug. 4, not too far from where she had last been seen. The family of Jamie Allison Tull had offered a $100,000 reward for her safe return after the 33-year-old former teacher went missing. Merced County Sheriff’s Office also asked for the community’s assistance in finding the missing woman.

The lazy, hazy pace of summer vacation has slipped into the past as schools and their students prepared this past week for the start of another school year. Riverbank School District students are back in class today, Aug. 9, with Crossroads Elementary beginning tomorrow.

For the second year, National Night Out in Riverbank was celebrated at the Community Center Park. For the most part, the event was held under the shade trees on the northeast corner of the park, on Santa Fe Street, near the playground equipment. In past years, health and safety units split into two groups and traveled around town, stopping at Neighborhood Watch locations for food and demonstrations.

Not only is this a new school year for Riverbank Unified School District but Mesa Verde Elementary has a new principal as well. Feeling welcomed with open arms is Manteca native Kim Ott, who has been a teacher and an administrator for several years.

During the summer the City of Riverbank’s Parks and Recreation Department has several aquatic programs offered, including the Barracuda Swim Team, swim lessons, and recreational swim. New this summer at the Riverbank Community Pool was a Lifeguard Readiness course offered to interested advanced swimmers to prepare them for lifeguard certification. The class was instructed by Emily Foley, the Head Lifeguard with the assistance of Assistant Pool Manager Samantha Houston-Crook.

For the past several years Riverbank High School (RHS) Biology Teacher Alice Poulson has been trying to create an AP Environmental Science Class to offer students to encourage environmental literacy. Finally she has made her plan a reality and new this 2017-18 school year, students at Riverbank High can take the AP Science class for the first time.

Bridging the gap between parents, students, and the school system is a new Parent Networking Center that has been staffed with a full time Parent Liaison, Karen De La Torre. The official grand opening will be held Wednesday, Aug. 30 on the grounds of Cardozo Middle School (CMS) along Fifth Street. There will be two opportunities to see the new center; with a morning celebration at 9 a.m. and an evening celebration at 6 p.m., designed to fit into a variety of parent schedules.

Like millions of people across the country, local high school students on Monday were able to view the solar eclipse, which was a partial eclipse here in Riverbank. Working on a special schedule, students took a break between second and third periods to assemble briefly in the main gym on Monday, Aug 21.

The trend of eating organic and healthy foods has many people watching what they eat and Riverbank High School Food/Nutrition ROP Culinary Arts teacher Emily Cowdrey understands the importance of that trend and is sharing that knowledge with her students. Since Cowdrey began teaching at RHS last year, she has been passionate about bringing the students healthy recipes. One of the goals that she had this new school year was to plant an herb garden. The plan finally came to fruition earlier this month.



Heat and air quality warnings in the Central Valley were expected to put a bit of a damper on outdoor activities over the holiday weekend. The 100-plus temperatures and smoke-laden skies possibly had residents looking for indoor means of celebration this Labor Day. The unofficial end of summer on Monday saw plenty of people cooling down in local rivers, lakes and at Woodward Reservoir, among other locations.

St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church in Riverbank was the host site for a Unity gathering to promote understanding between all members of the community regardless of race, color, or religion. The event was Wednesday evening and was coordinated by Unify StanislaUS. The gathering materialized as a response to the events that unfolded in Charlottesville.

Having a passion for hair, makeup and beauty in general, new salon owner Kristal Austin has stepped out of her comfort zone of teaching and decided to open a beauty salon of her very own in downtown Riverbank. With a team of stylists, the full service beauty salon offers the latest hair and color trends like balayage hair painting as well as cuts, extensions and waxing without losing the integrity of the hair and keeping it looking healthy.

What will the North County Corridor actually mean for Riverbank? And when will it be completed? Those are just a couple of questions that local residents were looking to get answered at a Thursday public hearing, hosted in neighboring Oakdale at that city’s Community Center. Officials were on hand with a wide variety of project boards, documents, and information, hoping to answer as many questions as possible.

This Friday night will culminate not one but two weeks of preparation at Riverbank High School for this year’s football Homecoming event, with the game at Angelo Novi Stadium on the RHS campus.

Volunteers who came out to help clean up the river near Jacob Myers Park on Saturday, Sept. 16 are finding their work easier and easier to accomplish each year, according to organizers. They were part of an annual statewide program called the Great Sierra River Cleanup, with participants working on lakes, streams and rivers all over California, from the Oregon border to Kern County. Beaches were covered by California Coastal Cleanup Day held at the same time.

A football game with a coronation at halftime concluded the Fall Homecoming celebration at Riverbank High School, with events during the week and new royalty selected on Friday night. Daniel Madueño was crowned King for 2017, with Klarissa Valadez named as Homecoming Queen.

An event so exciting, they set aside two days to recognize it, the high school’s 50th anniversary celebration began last week in downtown Riverbank. It continued on Friday, before, during and after the RHS football Homecoming Game activities.



The mayor, city council members and the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce welcomed a new business to downtown this past weekend. What began as a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday became a two-day Grand Opening celebration on Saturday and Sunday. Riverbank resident Lyndon Yates has opened Kiwi’s Custom Guns at 3332 Santa Fe St., across from Designs By Karen. Formerly, he was doing his gun manufacturing out of his garage.

It was a different family circus show that visited Riverbank this past weekend, but it was the same kind of show. The Walter Brothers Circus set up its tent in the same place, on the south side of Patterson Road, across from the Galaxy Theatres and Cool Hand Lukes, and they had the same one-ring set up as those which have come through town in the past.

The weekend weather provided the perfect backdrop for the annual Cheese and Wine Exposition in Riverbank, with thousands making the trek to enjoy the downtown festival. There were scheduled wine and cheese tastings both Saturday and Sunday, craft beers, music and entertainment on multiple stages, food booths, vendors, a handmade craft area, carnival rides and games for the kids and more.

The investigation continues into a double homicide outside Riverbank, with the discovery of two bodies on property in the 5900 block of Claribel Road on Thursday morning, Oct. 12. Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene when a man stopped at the Riverbank Police Services station in downtown Riverbank, indicating a family member who lives on site reported finding a body early Thursday. A second body was also later discovered. The two victims were identified as Alfredo Mercado Lomeli, 32, and Martin Alvarez Jr., 24, both of Oakdale.

Government officials were in Riverbank this past week to write one of a concluding chapter of the history of the Army Ammunition Plant, a past which began in 1942, during World War II. The future promises present and future commercial and manufacturing locations, with accompanying jobs, according to city officials. Representatives of the U.S. Army, Congressman Jeff Denham and others were on hand to sign paperwork turning over the first of several parcels that make up the facility, accompanied by a certain amount of pomp and circumstance.



The 15th Annual Haunted Hayride presented by the City of Riverbank Parks and Recreation Department along with the help of volunteers was well attended this past weekend. The weather cooperated with clear, dry skies and a little chill in the air; the Halloween-themed festivities had people lining up prior to the 7 p.m. start time.

Another special meeting of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District Board called for Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 25, ended with “no reportable action” out of a closed session … but the Fire Chief said he was ‘dismissed’ later that night.

Riverbank Unified School District participated in the National Red Ribbon 2017 Campaign last week with door decorating contests, dress up days, and other activities all week long. Promoting this year’s theme of “Your future is key to stay drug free” and sharing information, educators expressed how important it is to celebrate Red Ribbon Week.

The women from the softball team California Spirit really showed their vitality during a Huntsman World Senior Games Championship in October, claiming a first place Division 1 gold title in the Women’s 65 plus division. The 16 teammates from around the U.S. claimed the gold medal and first place title including four ball players from the Central Valley: Cat Chavez, Betsy Borda, Darlene Harrity, and Riverbank city staffer Kerrie Webb.

Every water meter in the City of Riverbank has been replaced or will be replaced with new high tech meters that read volume. Due to these new meters the City of Riverbank will eventually be switching from flat rate billing to consumption billing. Residents will be charged on their specific household usage.

The City of Riverbank honored Nifty’s owners, husband and wife Isidro de Jesus Carrasco and Aminda Carrasco recently for their efforts in assisting a Riverbank resident during a dog attack that occurred across the street from their restaurant in late September. Mayor Richard D. O’Brien called the couple up to the podium during a city council meeting and presented them a Commendation of Valor certificate.

The Thanksgiving luncheon that the Culinary Class served up for Riverbank High School staff and district personnel was held last week to show their appreciation. Instructor Emily Cowdrey said 16 students from the culinary class cooked the entire meal and about 20 leadership students helped serve it up.

Riverbank Cares including Riverbank Christian Food Sharing along with volunteers from the Historical Society, Riverbank Rotary, St. Vincent de Paul, and 60 sixth graders from Cardozo Middle School and the sixth grade teachers had one of the best Turkey Drives to date this past Saturday on Patterson Road.

The Riverbank Rotary organized a Community Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time this year, with the meal served up last week at the Scout Hall in Riverbank. Rotary members plan to make this an annual event and several volunteers helped make the meal a success.

That jolly old elf, Santa himself, accompanied by Mrs. Claus, was a featured attraction at Saturday’s Christmas Festival in downtown Riverbank. A Crafts Faire began at noon, featuring food and gift vendors from across the area, and continued until about 8 p.m. on Third Street, in front of City Hall North and the Plaza del Rio Park.

A late afternoon hit and run accident resulted in one arrest and multiple injuries on Nov. 28. Riverbank Police Services deputies responded to a reported hit-and-run accident at the intersection of Patterson Road and Snedigar Road just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28. According to authorities, when deputies arrived, they learned that 29-year-old Felix Wilkerson was driving in excess of 75 MPH on Patterson Road when he struck a vehicle at the intersection and then fled the scene.




California Department of Parks and Recreation Boating and Waterways Commission member Virginia Madueño invited several community members to participate in a tour of local waterways recently that also included State staff and commissioners throughout California. The purpose of the tour was to view potential sites for future funding through the Boating and Waterways Commission.

The Riverbank Federated Women’s Club celebrated the sights and sounds of the season over the weekend, hosting their annual holiday luncheon that brought together community members and served as a major fundraiser for the club’s scholarships that are presented to local students at the end of the year. The club also helps support several class activities at Riverbank and Modesto high schools. Students who live in the Crossroads and southwestern area of Riverbank are in the Sylvan School district and attend high schools in Modesto.

Duke Cooper with American Veterans First and several veterans volunteered to hit the streets in the 209 area recently to raise funds for “Operation Not Forgotten.”

The veterans were posted at several Save Mart stores in Turlock, Manteca, Tracy, Oakdale, Ceres, Stockton, Ripon, and Riverbank in October and November where they collected funds to send care packages to service men and women serving our country. The care packages have been carefully packed with a variety of treats and snacks and will be shipped off this month.

In late September Sherry Fenn’s mother and her best friend, furry family member Jack, were attacked while taking their daily stroll through the neighborhood. The traumatic incident has caused serious emotional and physical issues for both the mid-70s victim and her loyal dog companion Jack. They are working toward recovery, but it has been a slow process.

The holiday season brings the hustle and bustle and the time to give to others that may be in need. Giving back to the community is what it was all about for the organizers of second annual “Give Back” Toy Drive hosted at the 1985 Gallery in the Crossroads Shopping Center this past Saturday. The event was presented by Brittany Alexander, Israel Flores of the A-Team, Bruce Gong of Bruce’s Barbershop, and Ryan Sibitz from 1985 Gallery.

Approval has been given to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Riverbank Miscellaneous Bargaining Unit and the City of Riverbank for one year. The MOU is retroactive to July 1, 2017 and will expire on June 30, 2018. It passed 5-0 at the Riverbank City Council meeting at the end of November.

The Riverbank City Council approved the development agreement for a commercial cannabis dispensary between the City of Riverbank and Pacafi Cooperative, Inc., a California Corporation doing business as Flavors. Planning and Building Manager Donna M. Kenney submitted a report to the council at its Dec. 12 session, with the council ultimately voting unanimously, 5-0, in favor of allowing the dispensary to locate in the city. A conditional use permit for Flavors was heard by the Planning Commission at an earlier public hearing; the permit was approved at the Nov. 21 meeting by a vote of 3 to 1.

The ratification of a negotiated agreement between the Riverbank Unified School District and the Riverbank Teacher’s Association for 2017-2018 was approved by the Board of Trustees at the school board meeting held earlier this month. Over the past couple of months during two days of negotiations the agreement was formulated.

During this holiday season there are several people that have needs and to make sure that children in Riverbank receive toys at Christmas, several groups combine forces. The Central Valley Community Resources (CVCR) in collaboration with the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program hosted a recent toy distribution, along with assistance from the Riverbank Unified School District, C.A.S.A. del Rio FRC, Boy Scouts Troop #1100, Living Grace Church, Community Praise Tabernacle, Valley Improvement Projects and volunteers within the community. The Toys for Tots distribution was held on Saturday at the Cardozo Middle School Cafeteria.

The talented young musicians at both Riverbank High School and Cardozo Middle School performed winter concerts for family, friends, and staff bringing holiday cheer to all that attended. The Riverbank High School (RHS) Winter Concert was held in the Bruin Gym on the evening of Dec. 12 where the Beginner Guitar group, Riverbank Choir, Beginner Band, and Concert Band performed several arrangements led by Music Director Joey Aguilar. Cardozo Middle School (CMS) hosted its Band Concert on Dec. 13 at the Community Gym featuring First Flight, Percussion Class, and the Eagle Band led by Music Director David Howard where they performed a few holiday favorites, marches, and other songs.

A holiday tradition in Riverbank, the annual Shop With a Cop event was staged at Kohl’s in the Crossroads Shopping Center a few days before Christmas, with rave reviews from all involved. The event gathers kids in need, pairs them up with a deputy, and includes a shopping spree at Kohl’s for needed clothing items, followed by a pizza party, a visit with Santa and the  distribution of some toys.

The Friday before Christmas featured the traditional Riverbank Cares food distribution at the Riverbank Community Center from 10 a.m. until noon. Officials said they had 212 families participating, from one to six or seven in a family.

The tradition of the Adopt a Grandparent program continued this holiday season with 95 seniors that were adopted and given an array of gifts and treated to a holiday party at the Riverbank Rehabilitation Center. The tradition was created over 10 years ago by Riverbank Cares organizer Carla Strong and her late husband Jerry.