The Valley Citizen
Homeless: Pastor Dan’s Modesto Ministry of Food and Prayer
Years ago, Dan Lempenau was attending church when he had an epiphany. “This isn’t what Jesus is about,” he thought. “Jesus is about caring for the poor.” Since that time, some fifteen years now, “Pastor Dan” has been feeding homeless people in local Modesto Parks three days a week, day after day, week after week, rain or shine. His ministry features Bible lessons for those who wish to listen, but there are no requirements and there is no judgment. ed.
Posts #62-67 in Jim Gain’s “Learn 100 Common Valley Birds”
Jim Gain’s series, “Learn 100 Common Valley Birds” may be the best introduction anywhere to the common birds of the San Joaquin Valley. An accomplished naturalist and superb photographer, Jim offers the beginning birder quick and easy lessons for identifying and enjoying the common birds around us. We’ve previously published complete versions of each previous bird in the series; below, we offer quick looks at numbers 62 through 67 and links to each complete segment. As always, we urge our readers to review Jim’s entire website, Reflections of the Natural World, for an excursion into nature that will dazzle your eyes and introduce you to the infinite delights and beauty of the natural world around us.
Homeless? Modesto Council Chooses Cold Cruelty
After rejecting a proposal to develop a safe ground program for homeless people during an October 20 workshop, on November 7 the Modesto City Council voted unanimously to support bridge housing which could cost as much as $75,000 per unit, according to staff reports. The council voted to spend $3 million of its general budget on the acquisition of tiny homes such as Pallet Shelters to be put on yet-to-be-determined sites throughout the city.
Is Bridge Housing the Answer to California’s Homeless Crisis?
It’s become more and more apparent that transitional shelter units such as tents, Pallet Shelters, or tiny homes are the only humane options for California’s ongoing homeless crisis. Predictions of another wet winter forecast even more hospital time and deaths for people with nowhere to go, especially the sick, elderly and disabled.
Species #60 & 61 in “Learn 100 Common Valley Birds”
We’re proud to present another double feature of Jim Gain’s “Learn 100 Common Valley Birds.” Jim’s brief and informative texts help frame his spectacular photos and make learning the common birds around us a welcome opportunity to enjoy the eternal joys of living nature. ed.
Will Support for Mike Johnson Hurt Valley Republicans?
After weeks of dysfunction, House Republicans finally approved a Speaker to replace Kevin McCarthy, the San Joaquin Valley Congressman who never attained the enormous power of the Speaker’s position because he couldn’t appease the party’s MAGA extremists. McCarthy was ousted after a fevered House minority wouldn’t abide his decision that it was more important to fund our government during this time of world crisis than bow to the demands of Donald Trump and his election-denying supporters.
Jim Stokes: Champion for Social Justice
The island nation of Madagascar lies in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa, nearly 11,000 miles away from Modesto. But that’s exactly where Jim Stokes — Director of the Salvation Army’s Berberian Shelter and the Low-Barrier Shelter — dedicated a Peace Corps term to assisting the people of that island Republic. It was just one of many missions he has undertaken while trying to make a positive difference in the world. Prior to being hired by the Salvation Army in 2021, Mr. Stokes held various posts with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), first in Dallas, Texas, and then locally. Our community is highly fortunate to have him serving those among us who are most in need, since he brings such a wealth of experience to all that he does.
Posts #37 & 38 From Jim Gain’s “Learn 100 Valley Birds”
Here’s another daily double from Jim Gain’s series, “Learn 100 Common Valley Birds.” We’re proud to publish Jim’s superb photos and illuminating commentary. Follow the links below for more of Jim’s enlightening excursions into the wonders of nature. ed. Learn 100 Common Valley...
Homeless: Modesto Council Rejects Safe Ground
At a special meeting of the Modesto City Council on Friday, October 20, Councilmembers rejected a motion to direct staff to study safe sleeping sites for managing homelessness. The vote was four to three. Approximately 100 people turned out for the event, and public support for the proposal was overwhelming....
Homeless Workshop Will Spotlight Sweeps and Safe Ground
As homeless numbers continue to rise throughout the state, most of California’s leaders have followed Governor Gavin Newsom’s lead towards criminalizing the poorest among us. The default tactic of sweeps — chasing homeless people from one place to another — remains the most favored method of dealing with people on the streets, in the parks and alleys, and along waterways and freeway margins even while homeless numbers throughout the state show no signs of diminishing. ed.
Mayor and Council Right to Silence Hate Speech
During public testimony at the September 26 meeting of the Modesto City Council, speakers using Zoom technology uttered racial slurs and voiced support for Adolph Hitler. Modesto Mayor Sue Zwahlen silenced those speakers. She was right to do so. The speakers using Zoom during the Modesto Council meeting were part...
Western Grebe: #36 in Learn 100 Valley Birds (Species 57/100)
We’re proud to publish Jim Gain’s series, “Learn 100 Common Valley Birds.” Below, Jim’s beautiful photos help distinguish between the common Western Grebe and the less seen Clark’s Grebe. Both can be found on bodies of water throughout the Valley. ed. Few things on...
A Woodpecker “Double Dip” in “Learn 100 Valley Birds”
We’re proud to publish Jim Gain’s “Learn 100 Common Valley Birds” series. Jim’s concise texts and spectacular photos may be the quickest and best way to learn the common birds around us. Below, find a “double dip” into local woodpeckers. ed. Few things...
Should Tom McClintock Retire From Congress?
When Congressman Tom McClintock’s district was redrawn two years ago, the area he serves substantially shifted. Within the newly drawn boundaries, the needs of his constituents are different. As a result, the Congressman is out of touch with voters he represents. Mr. McClintock has been intermittently sending out email...
Homeless: Gavin Newsom Chooses Cruelty
Gavin Newsom has doubled down on his failed policy of sweeps and criminalization as the state’s primary tactics for coping with homelessness. Late last month, California’s Governor called for the United States Supreme Court to overrule decisions that have protected homeless people’s rights to sleep in public spaces when no other options are available. Newsom wants legal authority to roust people from the only places they have to lay their heads.
Councilmembers Propose Homeless Management Action Plan
Three Modesto City Councilmembers have submitted a “Safe Ground Homeless Vision” to City Manager Joe Lopez, Mayor Sue Zwahlen, and fellow Councilmembers Rosa Escutia-Braaton, Jeremiah Williams and David Wright. Brief and pragmatic, the plan is intended to reduce, “impacts and public health and safety concerns of unregulated encampments on local businesses and residents.”
Stanislaus Sheriff Supports Safe Sleeping for Homeless
During an early September interview with the Modesto Bee, Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse voiced strong support for safe camping for homeless people. “(With safe camping), outreach folks can actually solve problems because we’re condensing them into camps where they can interact with them” said Dirkse. “So, yeah,...
Gulls in the Valley? “Yes,” says Jim Gain
The Valley Citizen is proud to feature Jim Gain’s series, “Learn 100 Common Valley Birds,” a guide to the most common birds in the San Joaquin Valley. Daunting as it may seem, most people can learn to recognize 100 species if they enjoy going outdoors and developing a closer relationship with nature. Even getting to know 25 species is more than worth the effort. Learning the birds both heightens the senses and enhances one’s appreciation for life on earth. Below, Jim’s Valley gull trifecta. See more of Jim’s fine work here. ed.
Time for a Water Wake Up Call
New York Times highlight a groundwater crisis throughout much of the United States, including the San Joaquin Valley. While depleted aquifers aren’t news to Valley citizens, the urgency of the situation has yet to strike home, especially in the northern part of the Valley where last winter’s heavy rains have led to a false sense of security and a “it can’t happen here” mindset.
No Relief for Low-Income, Unhoused Valley Residents
A couple of Saturdays ago, a man and a woman lay on the grass beside each other in the deep shade of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Modesto. A shopping cart filled with their belongings was parked on the sidewalk nearby. I saw them as I was walking to the library that afternoon, under dusty sunlight slanting across I Street.
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