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'Cowboy Capital' competition closing

With the "Cowboy Capital of the World" contest nearing its end, folks in Oakdale remain confident they'll beat their rivals in Stephenville, Texas. Both towns use the "Cowboy Capital" nickname and have agreed that the one selling the most raffle tickets -- an individual winner from each town wins a side of beef -- has "exclusive rights" to the name for the next year. Oakdale has sold more than 2,000 tickets and Stephenville has sold about 1,000, according to the organizers. The winning city and individuals will be announced Saturday, in honor of

the National Day of the American Cowboy. To buy a $10 ticket, go to www.oakdalecowboymuseum.org.

Hell no, we won't pay

Three-hundred mostly angry people showed up at the Gene Bianchi Community Center in Oakdale on Wednesday night to vent their displeasure with a controversial fee that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is trying to collect from about 8,000 customers in Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties. There to hear them were representatives of PG&E, the Modesto Irrigation District, two state representatives and the newly formed Public Owned Utility Customer Association. Customers of the MID and the Merced Irrigation District are being assessed a monthly $9 "departing load" fee by PG&E starting this month. The fee has been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission to help offset costs the state incurred during the energy crisis of 2001-02. While only the PG&E representative defended the fees, the crowd roared its approval as many of those who spoke vowed not to pay the bills.

Wildfire contained

A wildfire in Jamestown that burned 102 acres was contained Tuesday just before midnight, officials said. Ten engines, four hand crews, a bulldozer and some water tenders remained in the area, from French Flat and Williamson roads toward Tuttletown, to clean up after the blaze, said Capt. Denis Laughon, with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Laughon said the operation likely would be wrapped up by the end of the day today.

Yesteryears

75 YEARS AGO: Ceres Troop No. 9, Boy Scouts of America, organized a baseball team and elected Elton Barnes as the captain. Scoutmaster the Rev. Alan R. Goozee said the first game was played with a pickup team from the grammar school, which defeated the Scouts 21-14. Other games were to be played throughout the summer.

50 YEARS AGO: The major crime rate for Stanislaus County for the first six months of 1958 revealed an increase of almost 20 percent compared with the corresponding period for 1957. The rise could be traced to an increase in two categories, burglary and larceny. All other crime categories decreased. -- Karen Aiello

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