From the emails, voice mails and other trusted sources:
HEAD SCRATCHER Last week, Modesto Irrigation District ditch tender Jett Hoag came across something he just doesn't see every day when cleaning out canal grates: four packs of California Lottery scratchers game cards.
"My eyes lit up when I first saw them," he wrote to me in an email. "My first instinct was, 'I can quit my job now!' But common sense and my conscience took over, and I turned them in to the sheriff's substation in Waterford."
He would have been disappointed had he scratched them off and tried to redeem any winners. When lottery officials deliver packs of the scratcher games, two things happen: First, they record the retailer that will sell the tickets. Next, the retailer must scan the tickets to activate them. Until that happens, they bear no value, a state lottery official told me.
Of course, Hoag didn't know the protocol when he turned them in. Commend him for his honesty.
HOPE AND GLORY While working on my column last Thursday about Johansen High's USO-style concert, I called a few veterans I know to see if they remember being entertained during their respective wars.
Ronn Cossey of Turlock, who served in a tank division in Vietnam, returned the call to tell me his unit had been assigned to protect Bob Hope and members of the legendary comedian's troupe. Then they were unassigned, with another unit taking over.
"But we got to see the show," he said.
He was amazed that Hope and his crew put themselves into danger by performing so close to the action.
"It meant so much to us," Cossey said.
Hope spent his Christmases entertaining troops every year from 1941 until 1990. Anyone 40 or older probably remembers watching his annual TV special showing the tour to remind the folks back home about those serving overseas.
SAVE THE DATE April 25, Rivers of Recovery holds its annual fund-raiser at The State Theatre in downtown Modesto. The program raises funds to send war veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and related emotional issues on fly-fishing trips. Tickets are $10 for veterans, $20 for everyone else. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., followed by the film at 6:15. Last year, the event raised more than $70,000 enough to send more than 20 veterans on trips to Wyoming, Idaho and Utah.
HEARTFELT EFFORT A year ago, a dachshund-Chihuahua mix dog was found tied to a tree on a 100-degree day in the foothills. Named Coco, she experienced breathing problems and was left without water. Sergio Iniquez, a local veterinarian, stabilized her and sent her to the University of California at Davis, where she needed surgery to repair a genetic heart defect. Hudson Photography of Oakdale is holding a fund-raiser to help pay for the surgery. Contact Marian Miller at (209) 847-0540 for details.
AUTHOR! AUTHOR! The son of immigrants from Mexico, Ismael Ontiveros Jr. grew up playing baseball in Modesto's airport neighborhood. Now he writes about playing and coaching the game in his book "The Fighting Flyers" (148 pages). Ontiveros has been featured in The Bee's sports pages for his efforts to build a youth baseball league in one of the city's poorest and toughest neighborhoods, taking the league from four to 14 teams in six years, finding sponsors and coaches to make the league work. In the 1990s, he spearheaded the rebuilding of the field at Orville Wright School, where he played as a child only to have a school district crew plow it up again.
The book is available through Amazon.com, Lulu.com marketplace and other online sites. Also, visit facebook.com/ flyersyouthbaseball and twitter.com/fightingflyers.
And Maxwell Carter Jr. of Empire is the author of "A Light Shines from Waco" (44 pages, RoseDog Books). Retired from the Army and a member of the American Legion, Carter writes about his relationship with God through trying times. It's available online through dorrancebookstore.com.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at email@example.com, @jeffjardine57 on Twitter or at (209) 578-2383.