The people who are still buying Christmas gifts today and Monday qualify for the late-shoppers label. And they will have little choice but to buy local something we consider a real positive, both for the merchants whose businesses they patronize and for our community.
It's also not too late to contribute to A Book of Dreams, The Bee's annual campaign that benefits 14 charities around the county. The easiest way to donate is online at www.modbee.com/dreams. But you also can pop them in the mail to A Book of Dreams, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 3928, Modesto 95352. While The Bee office will be closed Monday and Tuesday, it will be open Wednesday and Thursday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. We're still at 1325 H St., in downtown Modesto. Thursday is the donation deadline.
It's always interesting to hear what businessman-entrepreneur Dan Costa is planning next and, as our front-page news story Tuesday indicates, he and his daughter Kelsie have three new ventures planned a make-at-home gourmet meal, a retail business catering to horse owners and a medical balm business. Collectively they could employ 100 residents by the end of 2013. Of course we wish Costa luck, but he's shown that luck is only a small factor in success.
The storm that arrived Friday will improve the numbers, but as of Tuesday, the Central Sierra snowpack stood at 92 percent of normal. That is so much better than last year at this time, when it was about 15 percent of the historical average. In 2010, it was at 180 percent. When it comes to precipitation and snowfall, we think "normal" is a very good thing to be.
How many people live in California? It depends on who is counting or estimating. Earlier this month, the California Department of Finance's population unit pegged California's July 1 population at 37.8 million, up 256,000 from 2011. But on Thursday, the Census Bureau said the state had just over 38 million residents on July 1, having grown by 357,500 during the previous 12 months. In situations like this, the operative word is "about," as in "California has about 38 million people."
Dennis Cardoza resigned in October as the representative of the 18th Congressional District, but his district staff kept on working right up through this past week. It's a reminder that members of Congress don't just vote. A big part of their responsibility is helping constituents deal with federal agencies, from Social Security to Veterans Affairs to the Forest Service. With redistricting, Modesto no longer is in the 18th District. All of Stanislaus County will be in the 10th Congressional District and represented by Jeff Denham. Unresolved issues being handled by the 18th Congressional District office will be transferred to Denham's office next month.
Meanwhile, we're glad to hear that newly elected state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, hopes to rent Cardoza's old office on the fifth floor of Tenth Street Place, the city-county building. It also will facilitate a stronger relationship between Galgiani and city and county officials.
Amnesty is a hot topic, but here's a version that shouldn't be very controversial: The Stanislaus Animal Services Agency will offer a dog license amnesty program in January to the residents of Modesto, Ceres, Patterson, Waterford, Hughson and the unincorporated areas of Stanislaus County. During that month, there will be no late fees or penalties for purchasing your license. As a bonus, the Animal Services Auxiliary is providing a free microchip for your dog, a $20 value, when you purchase a dog license during the event. For more info: www.stancounty.com/animalservices.