SATURDAY SHORTS: Summerlike temps call for summerlike safety measures

May 3, 2013 

By the calendar, we're midway through spring, but the weather is very much like summer. That makes it a good time for a few reminders:

• Watering restrictions — days and hours — are in effect year round but very important as the demand for water increases. Conservation is critical this year, with Thursday's gloomy report that the water content of Sierra snowpack is only 17 percent of normal. The low flow is evident at reservoirs throughout the state. San Luis is 54 percent full; Don Pedro is at 72 percent of capacity, according to the state Department of Water Resources. Need ideas on how to conserve? Go to www.saveourh2o.org.

• Pets and children can overheat quickly in vehicles, even those parked in the shade with the windows down. Don't leave them unattended, even for a few minutes.

• Exuberant high-school seniors and others have a lot on their minds. Please, drive safely. And we encourage graduates to take advantage of the sober graduation programs planned at their schools.

• • •

Thumbs Up: To Amber Dimas, who was named one of the 2013 California Classified School Employees of the Year. Dimas works at Escalon's El Portal Middle School. She was honored in the Office and Technical Support category of the state competition. This is a big year for El Portal. On May 10, it will be recognized as a California Distinguished School, one of only five in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties so honored.

Thumbs Up: To the thousands of people who participated in charitable events last Saturday in Modesto and surrounding communities. Love Modesto counted 7,000 volunteers, including two benefit walks, and more than 11,500 people in 40 cities. See photos of many of the volunteers in our Clicks gallery on modbee.com.

Thumbs Down: To Assembly Democrats who put a bill by Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, in the suspense file without letting the members of Budget Subcommittee No. 6 even vote on it. It's ironic that Olsen's ACA 4 is intended to improve legislative openness by requiring that bills be in writing for 72 hours before the Assembly or Senate can vote on them. Olsen's goal, shared by Sen. Lois Wolk and some Democrats, is to prevent the last-minute gut-and-amend antics that have become too common in late summer. Representatives of Common Cause, the Rural County Representatives of California, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the League of California Cities all spoke in favor of the bill. Typically, the suspense file is where bills languish and die.

Pocketbook Out: Today, for the Friends of the Modesto Library annual book sale, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the downtown library. Friends of the Library in Ceres and Empire also have book sales today at their respective branches.

Free From D.C.: Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, delivered books to two elementary schools this week that were surplus from the Library of Congress. The books went to Capistrano Elementary, part of the Empire district, and Sonoma Elementary, in the Modesto City Schools district. Denham offers other schools the opportunity for books. Call his office at (209) 579-5458 for more information.

All in Fun: State legislators are busy these days, facing a May 31 deadline to pass bills in their respective houses. But they are finding time for some fun, including the 39th annual Capitol Frog Jump contest. Sen. Tom Berryhill, who now represents Calaveras County, hosted Tuesday's event and did what any gracious host would do — finished in the middle of the pack. His frog, tagged "Watertight," jumped 7 feet 6 inches. The Sacramento event is a promotion for the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee, which will be May 16-19 in Angels Camp. For more information, go to www.frogtown.org.

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