It's always hard to look back at an entire year and sum it up in a few hundred words. While Turlock remains a "small town" in the eyes of most of its long-time residents, the truth is the city is the second largest in the county and an important agricultural engine for the region and country. There is no way to succinctly summarize all of 2013 (without inducing a post-holiday lethargy), so instead I have poured over the year's headlines and found two reoccurring issues -economic development and water.
I'm not usually one to prattle on about the supposed deterioration of society. It's my belief that only those over 40 exhort the "good old days" and they do so in an effort to avoid any change. I don't know if it's because I turned 40 last month, or that society has actually started its downward fall, in either case, I'm going to give my first "good old days" tirade.
The competition is tough. Hundreds come from across the country for a chance at a blue ribbon. The two-day event is a November tradition in Turlock and brings out the top dogs, literally, as the Golden Valley Kennel Club prepares to host its annual shows.
When I was growing up, food trucks (excluding the ice-cream man, of course) were only seen at construction sites, county fairs and in TV shows and movies based in New York City. Today, they are a staple of the culinary scene for most cities - and are spreading to smaller communities just like ours.
Families with young children struggling to make ends meet can receive assistance paying for housing and food through different welfare programs, but there remains one need that can only be met through donations.
Every May for the past 50 years, Turlock Memorial Park has honored the area's fallen soldiers through its Veterans Memorial Lane flag tribute. The stars and stripes, proudly displayed, were a visual reminder of the sacrifices made by the service members, and their families.
Juliet Moradian is hoping to bridge the gap between generations - and cultures - with the universal language of art. She advocates for art education starting with preschool age children, and has found that language barriers seem to fade away when people gather to appreciate visual art.
Some come for the fellowship. Others want to continue a long family tradition. A Pitman High School freshman was pulled into it by neighbors, and has stayed for the fun. No matter what the reason, every member of the Turlock Steppin Pards wants to share their passion for square dancing.
Bob Gilchrist recently got rid of 41 pounds - of weight and food. The weight he lost over the past nine months through the Turlock branch of Weight Watchers. The food he donated to the Turlock Gospel Mission, as part of Weight Watchers' annual Lose for Good program.
If Turlock Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Sharon Silva had one message to give women in the community, it would be this: Stay on top of your health. Getting regular mammograms, annual physicals, and doing self breast exams are all part of Silva's preventative health routine. This year, that routine likely saved her life.
Patriotism, education, and historic preservation. These are the traditions that guide the Daughters of the American Revolution, a volunteer service organization that was founded over 100 years ago and has seen a recent rebirth in Turlock.
Over the past week, I've had a lot of fun watching the reaction on people's faces when I tell them the Journal just went up a day in print publication. Many people react as if I told them Elvis Presley is alive and well and will be performing at the Turlock Community Theatre next week. While the extreme surprise is a little offensive, I also understand.