Jeff Jardine

Ex-homeless man leads camp cleanup

From the emails, voicemails and other sources:

PAYING IT BACKWARD Interesting story in Sonora’s Daily Union Democrat last week. It was about a former Oakdale resident who became homeless in Sonora and camped near Stockton Road, which doubles as Highway 49.

The man, 56-year-old Scott Maynard, moved to Sonora and spent two years bivouacked on city land. Maynard was able to get into a place recently. He then recruited others who are or were homeless to clean up the campsite, which had been literally littered with everything from toiletries to booze bottles, according to the newspaper.

Kudos to him for organizing it, and to them for joining in.

It would be great to see folks down this way follow his example, stepping up to clean up the messes they create. But don’t count on it. Such projects will continue to fall to civic- and faith-based groups, and to county jail inmate crews.

HELPING HANDS – Reader Maryann Spikes emailed to tell about the effort to assist the Ramos family. They are the ones displaced by the fire that officials believe was caused by illegal fireworks set off by New Year’s revelers. Spikes pointed to Facebook postings on the Orchard Park Neighborhood in Modesto and Positive Modesto News pages that provide links and contact information on how to help.

Among the options is

POLAR BRRRRR! BENEFITS – As we wrote in the final days of 2014, the Mid Valley Water Ski Club on Jan. 1 hosted its final Polar Bear event at Modesto Reservoir, ending a tradition that began in the region back in the 1950s.

Club member Brian Smith said the publicity contributed to a strong turnout for the last gasp.

“We had about 48 people,” he said. “They paid $20 each.”

In all, the club raised nearly $1,000, he said, and it will go to benefit the Modesto Police Activities League.

SEAU CONNECTION – A recent “60 Minutes Sports” segment on the suicide of former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau details how the family wants to use his case to highlight the brain injuries prevalent in the game and often indistinguishable until after death. They refused the NFL’s $4 million settlement offer and will pursue their own litigation.

“The Seaus told ‘60 Minutes Sports’ they are pursuing their own lawsuit because the NFL fails to acknowledge any liability or responsibility for CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in its offered settlement with an estimated 21,000 ex-players,” according to a story posted about the show on “It’s not, the Seaus say, about acquiring additional money. This, they believe, is what Junior would have wanted.”

Interviewed for the segment was Gina Seau, a Ripon native who married Seau. They were divorced while he was still playing.

Her grandmother, Albertina DeBoer, was the secretary at Ripon Christian Elementary for about 50 years and still lives in Ripon.

THIS IS A FIRST – I’ve written dozens of columns about military veterans over the past 11-plus years. Some readers suggest we don’t do enough. But the note I received last week from a reader in Denair represented a first:

“Please let up on the endless stories about veterans. There are other people in the world besides vets. And many of us have a different opinion of soldiers and wouldn’t want our sons to kill for a living.”

THAT STATED … I wonder if that same reader will attend the Blue Mass set for Saturday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Modesto. The Mass will recognize past and present first responders in Stanislaus County. Hosted by the Knights of Columbus, the event will begin with a procession of sheriff’s, police and fire personnel and Fourth Degree Knights into the church for the 10 a.m. ceremony. It will be followed by a blessing of the vehicles and a luncheon.

NEW DA IN S.J. – Tori Verber Salazar became San Joaquin County’s district attorney Monday. We go way back, whether she remembers it or not. She worked as an usher for the Stockton Ports at old Billy Hebert Field during the summer while she attended St. Mary’s High. I was among the reporters covering the team for The Record at the time.

Congrats, Tori. You’ve come far, pilgrim.

Bee columnist Jeff Jardine can be reached at or (209) 578-2383. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJardine57.