Our Views: Special event running into downtown Modesto on Sunday

03/21/2014 7:55 PM

03/21/2014 8:44 PM

There aren’t too many events that draw more than 3,000 people to downtown Modesto. That’s part of what makes Sunday’s Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon special. Runners will compete one of three races – a 26.2-mile marathon, a half marathon and a 5-kilometer (3.1 mile) run. If you’re planning to be downtown near the M Street starting line, you might suffer a little inconvenience, but that’s a small price to pay. This race is important not only to our community image, but financially.

“Today in our office today we had people from Ohio, Denver, Los Angeles, Arizona – it was thrilling,” said Jennifer Mullen, the executive director of Modesto’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Many of them are going to be here at least two nights; they run all day, they don’t want to jump on a plane right away.”

The Modesto Marathon is good for our city; we’re glad it’s here.

Another enormous event – with enormous importance – is just around the corner. Love Modesto, which last year involved 40,000 people doing good deeds, is April 5. In its fifth year, Love Modesto is stronger than ever. There are 60 activities, ranging from school, park and trail cleanups to dropping by senior centers to hand out gifts and goodwill. The day starts at 9 a.m. as the vast majority of volunteers gather in front of the Gallo Center. Just seeing that many caring people getting ready to work is inspiring. It’s a party atmosphere with give-aways, music, refreshments and even back massages. This project was born in Modesto’s churches partly as a response to all the negativity so often associated with the city. Seeing the good it does, and the goodwill it generates, renders such criticism virtually meaningless. It’s easy to join in; go to lovemodesto.comor just show up. There’s plenty to do.

Some jobs – like police work – are fraught with serious situations day and night. We can imagine supervisors might frown on employees trying to milk a few laughs out of the work. Unless, of course, the boss doesn’t like to frown. So it was amusing, but not surprising, to see this comment posted on the Ceres Police Department Facebook page last week: “Traffic alert: We have received multiple calls about cows in the roadway on Whitmore and Eastgate. Please use caution in the area until they are MOOOOOved out of harm’s way.”

The pun made us laugh. It made the boss laugh, too, when he heard about it. “Our dispatch center is understaffed and it’s not going to be remedied anytime soon due to budget issues,” said Art DeWerk, who recently gave up duties as city manager to become full-time public safety director. “Our work is emotionally draining. But (such humor) is what makes our workplace pretty fun most of the time. You can be very hard working and still have a sense of humor.”

The Tuolumne River Trust made an entirely unsurprising announcement Tuesday, naming Patrick Koepele as its new executive director. He has been the interim for four months and before that was deputy executive director. Koepele has had his hands on virtually every meaningful project the trust has completed in the last 15 years; it was an obvious, and obviously good, choice.

We like keeping up with the Maddy Report. This week’s topic is school funding. Maddy Institute director Mark Keppler will talk to educators, youth program leaders, union reps and someone from the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Tune in to KMJ (AM 580) on Sunday at 10 a.m., or pick up the podcast at www.maddyinstitute.org.

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