MODESTO — From the emails and voice mails and other reliable sources:
OVER THE TOP Until Monday morning, it seemed A Book of Dreams, the fundraising effort founded by The Bee 24 years ago to benefit the community, this year would fall just shy of matching or topping the amount generated in 2012.
Indeed, last years total of $62,249 beat by $37 a decade-old mark for the campaign. But this year, contributions lagged a bit. That changed when Phyllis Hiemstra of Modesto came into the newsroom with a check for $1,000 on New Years Eve eve.
She said that about a dozen years ago, her family members decided they no longer would exchange gifts. Instead, theyd meet each Christmastime at one of the relatives homes, their checkbooks in tow, and collect their would-be gift money to give collectively to a worthy cause. This year, they met at Phyllis and Jerry Hiemstras home. The Hiemstras chose A Book of Dreams. Their familys contribution, along with a few others, pushed 2013s amount to $64,661, with the possibility of a few more checks that were mailed late (or shipped in time for Christmas via UPS).
The money, collected by the Stanislaus Community Foundation, will be disbursed among a number of local nonprofits. Thanks to all who contributed, and to the Hiemstras for taking it over the top.
UNDERSTUDY In my Christmas Eve column, I wrote about area Grinches who stole, among other things, the Baby Jesus from the Nativity scene in front of St. Peter Lutheran Church in northeast Modesto. The resin figure was part of a very nice display donated a few years ago by one of the churchs member families.
The Rev. Ryan Cortright called to say that before Christmas Eve, someone replaced the missing Messiah with a smaller doll that pinch-hit for the original.
BANKING ON NEW LOCATION Bank of Stockton arrived in a new building in Oakdale at the northeast corner of Yosemite Avenue and F Street in the fall of 2002.
Sometime within the next year or so, the branch will relocate to another new building to be built several blocks to the east where the former Richardson Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep dealership once did business, the city confirmed. Larry Richardsons was among the 789 dealerships nationwide that saw their links with Chrysler severed in 2009. The Richardson family continued as a used-car dealership with a service bay for a couple of years before closing for good more than a year ago.
A crew has been dismantling the steel-framed building for the past couple of weeks. It had been home to Mark Thomas Oakdale Tire until Thomas moved into a new building in the industrial park south of town in 1998 and Richardson moved in.
DRY HOLE Heres a list Modesto didnt make: RealAges heaviest-drinking cities. In fact, no California city made the top 10. Top honors went to a pair of Tennessee cities: Memphis for women and Knoxville for men. Serious whiskey country.
Perhaps the biggest surprise? No. 2 for women is Salt Lake City .
ROOT AWAKENING You know that big ridge south of Knights Ferry that begins with Lovers Leap and heads south? The one that shows various water levels from millions of years ago? There is now an orchard visible atop the ridge about 1 1/2 miles south of Highway 120-108. Yes, the explosion of orchards has gone that far, with more no doubt in the works.
A NEW MEANING The lyrics from the seasonal tune Let It Snow begin with: Oh, the weather outside is frightful. Are you kidding? With a New Years Day forecast for the mid-60s, no rain in sight, Dodge Ridge Ski Area still awaiting enough snow to open, groundwater wells going dry and reservoir water levels dropping, it left frightful in the dust weeks ago. Its officially downright terrifying.