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Caltrans may get into housing market

The California Department of Transportation didn't use all the land it bought to build the East Sonora Bypass, and now it hopes to use the rest to lure affordable housing. The agency and the California Department of Housing and Community Development announced an Internet feature Tuesday allowing developers to look at property listings at www.dot.ca.gov/property and at www.hcd.ca.gov. By law, public agencies get the first chance at buying property, said Caltrans spokesman David Anderson. Then the general public gets a chance, and Anderson said affordable housing developers often look to the Housing and Community Development Department for listings, so this gives them a leg up. The site lists three properties in Sonora totaling about eight acres at the bypass and Mono Way.

Protect yourself from being a victim

Modesto is experiencing a rash of auto thefts and residential and vehicle burglaries, police are reporting. Officials are offering weekly tips to help prevent property from being stolen:

Don't leave descriptive telephone answering machine messages such as, "You've reached the Smiths. We're away skiing. Please leave a message." Thieves love to hear that they have plenty of time to break in and completely ransack your home.

Ceres school district names a new exec

Ceres Unified School District announced Wednesday that Denise Wickham, left, will be appointed assistant superintendent of personnel services beginning July 1. Wickham will head the district's personnel division when Sallie Kjellberg retires after a 27-year career in education. Wickham serves as the district's director of curriculum and instruction.

She recently completed her doctorate through the University of the Pacific and is an adjunct faculty member at California State University, Stanislaus. Before joining the district, Wickham was the principal of California Avenue Elementary School in Riverbank, where she was a finalist for the National Distinguished Principal Award.

Yesteryears

75 YEARS AGO: A fire of unknown origin damaged the Salida post office, in the rear of a drug store. Postmaster Claud C. Hayes said the cost of the damage had not been determined and that several desks and machines used for canceling mail were destroyed.

25 YEARS AGO: A scholarship fund established in the name of Carol Philleo was presented by the Women's Progressive Club of Modesto to Modesto High School. Philleo taught home economics at Modesto High during the 1920s.

-- Karen Aiello

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