Community briefing

AGENCIES LEND A HAND: Thanks to generous community members, the Modesto Fire Department and other Modesto-area agencies, 224 children who might not have had anything to open this Christmas received a special delivery of gifts from Santa Claus this year. For the fifth consecutive year, fire officials asked community members to show their generosity and purchase needed items along with a toy or two for these children who are in foster care, come from poor families or from troubled homes. The Haven Women's Center, Clark Foster Care and members of the Victory Outreach congregation in downtown Modesto helped the Fire Department in its gift-giving operation and collected letters to Santa from needy children. Battalion Chief Hugo Patino said the kindness and generosity displayed was overwhelming, and the effort could not have been done without the community members who participated.

LAYOFFS AT LIVERMORE LAB? More than 900 nuclear weapons program workers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory could lose their jobs if the federal government goes ahead with a proposal to stop testing at a site in the Altamont Hills. The Site 300 test range near Tracy is slated to stop testing under the U.S. National Nuclear Security Agency's proposal to consolidate the nation's nuclear weapons infrastructure. Lab spokesman David Schwoegler says nuclear weapons launching systems tests could stop by 2010, and high explosives tests could stop by 2015. Federal officials say that plan would lower security risks and storage costs by moving some of the work performed locally to a New Mexico lab and a Nevada test site. Schwoegler says the lab is exploring other uses for the facility before the agency makes a final decision next year.