Our Views: Who wouldn’t want to be part of Modesto?

08/29/2014 4:56 PM

08/29/2014 4:57 PM

With Modesto appearing on so many lists of horrible, unhealthy or hazardous conditions, it’s surprising the city could entice anyone to want to live here, much less be its manager. Isn’t that like asking someone to oversee the break room on the Hindenburg?

Well, perhaps not. Nineteen people think the city of Modesto is nice enough, promising enough and innovative enough to want to manage it. We think they’re onto something.

A real paper tiger

Ripon is just across the river, but there will be a lot of Modestans visiting for this weekend’s Color the Skies Hot-Air Balloon and Kite Festival. And once everyone’s neck has gotten sore from looking up, there’s more to see on the ground – like the cardboard critters designed and created at Modesto’s Pacific Southwest Containers. It’s a labor of love, PSC vice president Darin Jones told The Bee’s Deke Farrow this week. The festival is a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital of Central California in Madera, which will be the eventual home of many of those cardboard animals.

All you can eat, and then some

OK, if there’s one thing everyone can agree we do extremely well around here, it’s food. We grow it, but we also know how to prepare it, which brings us to Edible Extravaganza, a culinary tour de force that is Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Centre Plaza. Simple concept: Buy a ticket ($40 in advance, $50 at the door) and stroll through a huge room full of people begging to give you appetizers, main courses, wine, iced drinks, desserts and more. It can get crowded; last year, the event drew 1,400. If you’d like a little more elbow room, there’s a special ticket ($100) that gets you in an hour early. Lots of places have tickets; to find one, call (209) 526-1476. The money goes to the Center for Human Services.

The more the merrier

What does the Center for Human Services do with some of that money? You might recall the mid-July story from reporter Nan Austin who wrote about Graduation Coaches, a one-on-one mentoring program for middle schoolers who might otherwise fall through the cracks – a tragedy for them, because it diminishes their possibilities, and a tragedy for us for the same reason. Our story told of some amazing success, describing how 40 kids – all who came from hard circumstances – improved their grades, brightened their attitudes and began to see much better possibilities. While the coaches no doubt inspired the kids, the kids inspired the coaches right back. That was the good news. Even better news is the program is expanding. The United Way said this week that there will be 120 kids getting Graduation Coaches this year.

Rewarding new ideas

What we like best about the Stanislaus Innovation Challenge is that we’re good at it. The Stanislaus Business Alliance, Wells Fargo and The Bee are sponsoring a contest for people who want to make things, or make things better. They compete for a $2,500 prize and a chance to represent the county in a regional contest (the San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge). If you live in Modesto, you’ve got until Monday to enter and until Sept. 17 to prepare. If you live in Turlock, Oakdale or Patterson, you have a little longer. Finals are Dec. 10. A Stanislaus County entrant has won four of the last five Entrepreneur Challenges (where the prizes are bigger).

Modesto has a lot to offer. All those city manager candidates must have already figured that out.

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