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How to recycle your Christmas tree

MODESTO - City of Modesto officials said residents can recycle their Christmas trees for free in a variety of ways.

If you have an untreated tree, meaning no flocking, paint or fireproffing, place it in your green organic waste container. Cut the untreated tree into small sections. The lid of the green waste container must close completely in order for it to be picked up.

For residents who don't have an organic waste container, you can place an untreated Christmas tree in the street or alley with other yard trimmings for collection. All ornaments, tinsel, nails, stands, support rods and plastic bags must be removed. The tree should be cut into 6-foot sections or smaller.

City waste workers will begin collection on the first Monday in January.

If you have a treated tree, meaning flocked, painted and/or fireproofed, it cannot be recycled.

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Stanislaus County sinkhole leads to partial Jennings Road closure

STANISLAUS COUNTY, CA - A 3-foot-wide sinkhole has shut down Jennings Road between Monte Vista and West Main as public works crews work to repair the road.

While the actual exposed hole is located on the side of the street, it extends under the road and could compromise the structural integrity.

Stanislaus County spokesman Matt Machado said Jennings Road was initially closed on Friday, Dec. 17, after the hole, about 3 feet wide by 5 feet in length, was deemed a hazard. A local farmer spotted the sinkhole and alerted city officials.

Due to adverse weather conditions impacting repairs, the road is not expected to be reopened until mid-January 2011.

Machado said a water channel flows off of the San Joaquin River and under the road where the hole appeared. The shoulder of the road collapsed over the slough and part of the sinkhole extends under the roadway.


Stanislaus County money to fight meth labs runs out

STANISLAUS COUNTY, CA - A state law, which gives local law enforcement agencies funds for special public safety programs, is set to expire under a sunset clause June 30, 2011.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, in coalition with multiple state law enforcement agencies, submitted an urgency bill Monday to extend the funds generated from Motor Vehicle License fees (VLF).

Currently, local law enforcement agencies receive $500 million from the 1 percent taken from VLF.

"In Stanislaus County, it's $1.5 million we could lose in funding," said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson.

He said he'd be forced to cut an additional 10 to 12 jobs within the sheriff's department. Earlier in December, the department lost 123 positions and $21 million in its budget.

Modesto man identified in deadly assault

MODESTO - Stanislaus County Sheriff's detectives were investigating the suspicious death of a 61-year-old man found lying on the side of a road Monday evening.

The man, identified as Modesto resident Manual Romero Vibanco, was initially found suffering from serious injuries on the ground outside of Global Auto Body Parts in the 500 block of 9th Street around 5:30 p.m., according to sheriff's spokesman Deputy Luke Schwartz.

Someone called 911 from the business to report an assault with a deadly weapon, Schwartz said.

Responding paramedics rushed Vibanco to a local hospital where he died a short time later, said Schwartz. Based on evidence at the scene, investigators believe the assault was a homicide. No suspects have been identified or arrested.

Anyone with information about Vibanco or the incident should contact Stanislaus County Sheriff's Detective Frank Soria at (209) 525-7080. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636.

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Amy Dickenson coming to Gallo Center

Amy Dickenson coming to Gallo Center

MODESTO, CA –- The Gallo Center for the Arts will present an inspiring evening of discussion and advice from author and columnist Amy Dickinson in a program titled “Second Chances, Fresh Starts and New Beginnings” on Friday, January 21 at 8:00 p.m.  Dickinson has been a successful writer for such publications as the Chicago Tribune and TIME Magazine and her column “Ask Amy” is featured in over 200 newspapers nationwide, including The Modesto Bee.

Thief steals Salvation Army kettle outside Raley's

Thief steals Salvation Army kettle outside Raley's

MODESTO - Salvation Army of Modesto officials said a bell-ringer standing outside of a local Raley's grocery store Saturday afternoon, was robbed by a man who is still on the loose.

The incident happened on Dec. 18 around 4:30 p.m. at the store on Tully Road at Standiford Avenue, said Laine Hendricks with the Salvation Army. A man approached the bell-ringer to ask for directions to a nearby restaurant. He then grabbed the red kettle full of donation money the bell-ringer was holding, then ran and jumped into a waiting car.

Hendricks said the Salvation Army employee ran after the thief, grabbed the vehicle's door handle and tried to stop the moving car but was forced to let go, hurting his knees, wrist and head in the process.

The kettle contained an undisclosed amount of money and Hendricks said the loss of income comes as a severe hit to the Modesto branch.

Tango Buenos Aires - Juanury 12

Tango Buenos Aires, one of Argentina's great cultural exports, will return to the Gallo Center for the Arts on Wednesday, January 12 at 7:00 p.m.  Tango Buenos Aires graced the stage in the Center's inaugural season and will return to bring authentic Argentine Tango adored by audiences from coast to coast. 

Tickets range from $15 to $55. Student discount tickets are available for $10 with valid student identification. A 15% discount is available for groups of 15 or more.  For tickets and more information, visit www.galloarts.org or call (209) 338-2100.

Founded in 1986 at a Buenos Aires cabaret, Tango Buenos Aires has toured on five continents and performed in countless cities for more than twenty years.  This performance presents the history of Tango by introducing the audience to the ways tango has evolved into modern times.

After school youth recreational leader arrested for sexual assault

MODESTO – Modesto Police investigators have arrested a 19-year-old, after-school youth recreational leader for unlawful sexual acts with a 12-year-old girl.   

On Wednesday morning, Modesto Police officers were called to James Marshall School, located at 515 Sutter Avenue, regarding a missing 12-year-old student.  School staff had learned the juvenile was picked up by a male in a car, near the rear of the school, and she never returned.

When officers arrived they were able to identify the male who picked up the juvenile as Vince Gutierrez, a 19-year-old Modesto resident.  Gutierrez is a part-time Recreational Leader for the City of Modesto and a Substitute Special Education Instructional Para-Professional for Modesto City Schools.  The investigation revealed Gutierrez had befriended the 12-year-old victim, while he was working in an after-school program at Marshall School. 

Patrol officers located Gutierrez and the 12-year-o

Modesto city offices closed until December 31

MODESTO -- The Modesto City Council has approved the closure of City offices from Friday, December 24 through Friday, December 31.  In a continued effort to balance a difficult budget, the City will realize cost savings through mandatory furloughs and reduced energy usage during the business closure days.  City Hall will reopen on Monday, January 3, 2011.

All offices in Tenth Street Place (1010 Tenth Street) will be closed.  Uniformed police operations and emergency dispatch will operate as usual and all 11 fire stations will be open.  Citizens needing to obtain a fire incident report can call (209) 341-5722 and leave a message.  The Modesto Police Department lobby, located at 600 Tenth Street, will be open Monday, December 27 through Thursday, December 30 from 8 a.m.

Understanding Facebook Insights: Impressions

A 3fold client called recently and asked for my thoughts on Facebook Insights. After answering his question I thought it might be helpful to breakdown the tool for others. My timing couldn’t be better because just as I sat down to write this post, Facebook announced an improvement to their Insights tool. A new feature measures additional metrics around content. It’s an exciting update that I’ll definitely share with you,  but let’s get to that in a second.

First, if you’re unfamiliar with Facebook Insights, the tool is a great feature included on “Like” pages. (Like pages, or fan pages, are typically used for business marketing). I always recommend companies and nonprofits build a Like page because of all the capabilities that come with it, including Insights.