The good, the bad, the young and the old — Thumbs up and down in Modesto

See classic cars in Modesto’s biggest Graffiti parade ever

The North Modesto Kiwanis Club organized the Modesto’s annual Graffiti Classic Car Parade and this weekend’s American Graffiti Festival.
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The North Modesto Kiwanis Club organized the Modesto’s annual Graffiti Classic Car Parade and this weekend’s American Graffiti Festival.

In this column, look for references to people on either end of life’s extremes — childhood, and golden years. Be sure to see the last item, an invitation to a special event coming Thursday morning that focuses on young people and the elderly.

THUMBS UP on everyone checking on elderly neighbors and others who might be vulnerable in the heat. A friendly text, knock on the door or phone call — even if you’re sure everything is OK — is never a waste of time; doing so strengthen relationships at the very least, and could save a life.

THUMBS DOWN on driving without properly restraining children. That’s illegal, but worse, it puts their lives at risk. Monday’s accident on Highway 99 involving six children in a minivan is a sad reminder, sending a 12-year-old boy — who wasn’t wearing a seat belt — to the hospital with a brain injury. Parents, make sure your kids buckle up, and do it for them if they’re young. In a similar vein, never leave children or pets unattended in the car, especially during a heat spell.

THUMBS WAY DOWN on driving while intoxicated. Our hearts break for loved ones of a woman and two daughters, all three of whom were killed Sunday when a car plowed into their home near Ceres, reportedly with a drunken driver at the wheel. No precaution by the victims might have been taken against such senseless behavior. If the driver is guilty, he must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

THUMBS UP on Lorenzo Beltran, the policeman who spends much of his time on duty at Ceres schools. He beat out all other campus cops across the United States to be named National School Resource Officer of the Year, an impressive award earned by unusual dedication to keeping people, young and otherwise, safe on campus, as well as positive interaction with students. Well done, Officer Beltran.

THUMBS DOWN on continued dysfunction at Modesto City Hall, where even elected officials apparently have a hard time gathering information that should be public. Councilwoman Kristi Ah You said she and Councilman Tony Madrigal asked three times over nearly two months for figures reflecting the money that staff members spend on items like food and travel. Having received nothing, they felt they had no other choice but to file a formal California Public Records Act request, like any regular citizen, Ah You said. By law, an agency must respond within 10 business days, or state why more time is needed.

City Manager Joe Lopez said it takes a long time to pull together such information. It will presented, he said, at a June 26 meeting of the council’s audit committee, which includes both Ah You and Madrigal.

THUMBS UP on North Modesto Kiwanis, whose American Graffiti Festival and classic car parade last weekend, loved by people of all ages, were the biggest and best ever. The events honor native son George Lucas of “Star Wars” and “American Graffiti” fame, but have taken on a life of their own, showcasing Modesto and the valley’s car culture. It’s great to see so many people reliving fond memories while building new ones.

THUMBS UP on those planning to take part in Thursday’s free health summit hosted by The Bee at the Gallo Center for the Arts in downtown Modesto. Have you wondered how your children’s cell phones may affect their well being? Maybe you’re thinking of taking in an elderly parent, or have questions about dealing with dementia. Panelists will cover these topics and many more, with a focus on children and the elderly. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday; call 209-578-2330 for details, or sign up by searching “California Priorities” online at EventBrite.

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