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Free yard waste pick-up service available until Feb. 1

RIPON - The city is still providing free pick-up service for disposal of leaves, trimmings and Christmas trees, until Feb. 1.

Residents should place loose yard trimmings and leaves in the street just outside of the gutter (the gutter needs to remain clear for water runoff). No other solid waste of any kind should be included among the prunigs or leaves. Branches should not be more than 4-feet-long. Do not bag or tie the trimmings.

There's no need to call City Hall to have your trimming picked up. A special Public Works crew will pick it up each week as they check neighborhoods. The workers don't follow a set route, so if the yard trimmings are not picked up one week, they will get picked up the next.

Manteca Gnarly Head 2007 chardonnay takes home the gold

Manteca Gnarly Head 2007 chardonnay takes home the gold

The Gnarly Head vineyards produce some great local wine from some of the oldest vines in the area. They sell their wines for a price even a budget connoisseur can afford, and the Chardonnay is an example of their quality. At the 2009 California State Fair Wine Competition, Gnarly Head Chardonnay won the gold medal. After one taste of this white you'll understand why.

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Stockton police officer busted on steroid charges

STOCKTON, CA - A Stockton police officer has been arrested on charges of possession of steroids for sale.

According to Stockton Police Department spokesman Officer Pete Smith, Darrin Fagundes, 26, was arrested Thursday in the parking lot of a Tracy shopping center. 

Smith says Fagundes was arrested as part of an ongoing investigation.  A second man, Anthony Kubena, 38, of Brentwood, was also taken into custody.

Both men quickly bailed out of jail, and were due in a Stockton court for arraignments next week.

Fagundes has been with the Stockton Police Department since June 2007, and works in the patrol division.  Smith said Fagundes is on paid administrative leave pending further investigation.

Smith also said the department wasn't pleased to see one of its own facing a felony charge.

Three men arrested for Tracy armed robbery

TRACY, CA - Tracy Police officers arrested three men Friday night for the armed robbery of an auto parts store.

Police said the men entered the O'Reilly's Auto Parts Store on the 3300 Block of North Tracy Boulevard around 8 p.m. and held the employees at gun point.

The suspects then fled towards the Orchard Park Estates, a nearby mobile home park.

Anthony Ballard, 25, of Modesto was captured immediately, but the other two suspects hid in the mobile home park.

Police said they surrounded the park while the SWAT team conducted a house to house search. Units from Tracy, Livermore, Modesto and Manteca were called in to assist.

Michael Morris, 24, of Oakland was found hiding in a side yard at 11:30 p.m.

The third suspect, Terrence Savoy, 23, of Modesto, was apprehended a little over two hours later. He was found hiding in an occupied trailer.

Manteca paramedic rescues brother in Sierra

OAKDALE - Troy Hawkins has been a paramedic with Manteca District Ambulance for eight years, but his most dangerous and heroic rescue came off-duty last week.

New to snowmobiling, Hawkins took up the sport to join his older brother, Travis Hawkins, and his family for a trip at Sonora Pass.

"I had worked a three-day, 60-hour shift, and I was sick with a headache," said Troy Hawkins. "I really wanted to delay going up there, but something told me I needed to go that day."

After his arrival at the Dardanelle Resort, Troy and his brother's family set up snowmobiling. At 2 p.m., the family started heading back in advance of a quickly approaching snow storm. That's when avid snowmobiler Travis hit a stake and flipped his snowmobile down a steep incline.

"I looked down the side and saw my brother 30 yards down with the snowmobile rolled over," said Troy.

Three arrested in Tracy shooting

TRACY, CA - Tracy police announced Thursday morning they have arrested three men in connection to a shooting Wednesday night.

In a news release, Sgt. Tony Sheneman said Luis Hernandez, 18; Uriel Valencia, 18; and Richard Flores, 18, were all arrested in connection with a shooting near 9th Street and Tracy Boulevard. 

Sheneman said a call came out around 11:30 p.m. for shots fired. Witnesses told police two individuals were heard yelling "Southside Riders," which police said is the name of a Sureno gang, as they ran away.

A car matching a description that police were given by a witness was then stopped at the corner of Cypress and Alden Glen, Sheneman said. He said a gun was also found close to where the shooting took place.

Manteca couple wants their son's stolen Olympic medal back

MANTECA - A couple's home is burglarized of $100,000 in valuables, but homeowners Max and Marlene Moses only want one item back - their son's Olympic silver medal.

"We feel terrible, because we were the guardians of his medal while he is performing in Italy," said Max Moses.

The couple's son, Merrill Moses, is the goalie for the U.S. Men's Water Polo team. His talents took him to the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, China.

"It was so joyous, thrilling, and so out of control to be there, because the guys worked so hard," said Marlene. "It was great, because they weren't expected to win."

Merrill Moses and his team went on to win the silver medal. He entrusted it to his parents while he continued to tour and practice.

"We didn't keep it locked up, because so many people wanted to see it and touch it when they came over," said Marlene.

Manteca levee undergoes repairs to prep for flooding

Crews fix San Joaquin County levee, prep for potential flooding

MANTECA - San Joaquin County Office of Emergency officials work to repair an eroding levee on the San Joaquin River before Sierra snow begins to melt.

Thirteen miles of the levee off of South Airport Way in Manteca is being reinforced by CalNeva Construction in a project that began, Saturday, Jan. 8.

"The river is eating into the riverbank so far that the riprap protection rocks are falling off into the river and offering no protection," said Roy Boyd, of Reclamation District 2064, which owns the thirteen miles of the levee.

In 1997, the San Joaquin River rose to 26 feet and flooded the Manteca Sportsman Club and firing range. The fields were under six feet of water and the buildings had to be rebuilt.

Manteca levee undergoes repairs to prep for flooding

Crews fix San Joaquin County levee, prep for potential flooding

MANTECA - San Joaquin County Office of Emergency officials work to repair an eroding levee on the San Joaquin River before Sierra snow begins to melt.

Thirteen miles of the levee off of South Airport Way in Manteca is being reinforced by CalNeva Construction in a project that began, Saturday, Jan. 8.

"The river is eating into the riverbank so far that the riprap protection rocks are falling off into the river and offering no protection," said Roy Boyd, of Reclamation District 2064, which owns the thirteen miles of the levee.

In 1997, the San Joaquin River rose to 26 feet and flooded the Manteca Sportsman Club and firing range. The fields were under six feet of water and the buildings had to be rebuilt.

Tracy man catches pilfering pump

TRACY - Marcus Epelstein paid $20 dollars in advance to fill his gas tank at the AM/PM station on Grant Line Road Thursday evening. Epelstein said he started to fill up his tank, but it turned out he only needed about $11 worth of gas.

"The gallons and price were climbing very slowly, so I pulled out the hose and noticed that I wasn't pumping, but I was still being charged," said Epelstein.

Epelstein said that's when he decided to start recording the pump with his cell phone video camera. He say he confronted management, who refunded his money and closed the pump for the night.

"There could have been a number of factors to make the pump malfunction," said the station manager, who did not want to be publicly identified.

"The pump was inspected and put back on the next morning," he said.

Epelstein said he wants other customers to know they need to pay attention at the pump.