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Public safety top priority for county
State of County
The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors and other dignitaries pose for a picture following the State of the County address on April 25 (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

MODESTO — A veritable who’s who of Stanislaus County officials and dignitaries were on hand for the annual State of the County address, held last Thursday in front of the main branch of the Stanislaus County Library.

Board of Supervisors chairman Mani Grewal delivered the address to a crowd of about 500 that included all current members of the Board of Supervisors, plus eight former members; various mayor and city council members from throughout the county; Sheriff Jeff Dirkse; District Attorney Jeff Laugero; Assemblyman Juan Alanis (R-Modesto); state Sen. Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson); Rep. John Duarte (R-Hughson); and former Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced), who is challenging Duarte for the 13th congressional district seat.

“It feels right to gather here, in a place that has always brought people together,” said Grewal. “Because that’s exactly what we are reaffirming today: our mission to create more opportunity for every single person in this county to achieve their full potential and move forward together.”

Grewal, who represents Stanislaus County’s District 4, used the library as a metaphor for the upward trajectory of the county.

“We chose the library today for a reason,” Grewal said during his 35-minute address. “This library has been a special part of the community for over 50 years. These walls have welcomed people from all walks of life. This is a place where anyone can come to learn and to grow and to better themselves through books and knowledge.

“The library represents what makes our community so strong. Our shared knowledge of education, understanding different views and believing that learning can uplift all of us together.”

Grewal pointed out that $20 million from the general fund in library renovations will serve current and future generations just as faithfully as it served past generations.

“The past was a young boy,” Grewal said. “During summer break, he would be dropped off at the library by his single mother while she went off to work. She packed him a sack lunch and gave him a quarter to call if there was an emergency. The present? That boy grew up to be our (county) CEO, Jody Hayes.”

In the year ahead, Grewal said, the county’s priority is to make progress on building a safer county.

“Safety is the single most important factor in continuing this project,” said Grewal. “This objective is led by our sheriff, Jeff Dirkse, who has continued to serve our county well. And I am so grateful that we are blessed with him as our sheriff.”

Grewal pointed to the county’s $31.8 million increase in funding for law enforcement, emergency operations, and criminal justice services.

“I can already see the sheriff looking at me and saying that’s not enough,” Grewal told the crowd. At which point Dirkse, standing at the back of the congregation, shouted toward the dais.

“That’s not enough,” Dirkse said on queue, drawing laughs from the audience.

Grewal reiterated that the state of the county is strong and, on the heels of a worldwide pandemic, the county is moving in the right direction.

“When someone asks me, ‘Is the American Dream still attainable?’ as the chairman of the county where my immigrant parents came over 50 years ago, I can wholeheartedly say the American Dream is alive and well.”