Well, maybe tourism benefitting the Patterson area isn’t such a far-fetched idea after all. Maybe tourists are already in our midst in small numbers and we don’t realize it.
We already have three major plusses. The first is the 50-acre Villa del Lago commercial development, including the Best Western hotel that pulls traffic off the freeway. People turn off to buy gas, have a meal or stay overnight. Some stay several nights at the adjoining Kit Fox RV Park.
Then there’s Diablo Grande and its two golf courses. It definitely draws people from outside our immediate area. Some buy gas, dine, and stay the night to extend their fun on the links.
And of course, our own Apricot Fiesta. It’s well-known throughout Northern California, and late this coming spring will be its 44th run. Anyone arguing that the Fiesta is only a local celebration should take a look at the visitor log kept in the local museum. It’s proof that the Fiesta draws visitors from far and wide.
So what, you say with doubt in your voice. Just what can we do about it?
It appears that we’re about to find out. Meeting Monday afternoon in City Hall was a group calling itself the Patterson Tourism Working Group. The turn-out was good, the representation was varied, and the discussion was lively.
Patterson’s new Recreation Director Juliene Flanders has past experience in Turlock and Manteca with directing tourism promotion. She has been given the same responsibility here, and the meeting she organized kicked off what could well become a boon for the Patterson area.
The group will next meet in late January. I promise you’ll be hearing more about the subject.
DONATIONS COMING IN
Readers may remember that a while back, donations were being solicited for completion of the wrought iron fence along Highway 33 at our cemetery north of town.
In brief, part of the fence went up several years ago. An estimated $56,000 is needed to complete the project, and the cemetery’s Board of Directors has set a goal of $22,000 in public donations, the remainder to be paid by the cemetery district.
And as of Monday, half of that amount — $11,050 to be exact — has been received from 42 donors. Contributions large and small are appreciated. Send to Patterson District Cemetery, Box 595, Patterson.
Longtime Patterson residents are aware of the improvements made at the cemetery in recent years. Paving of the roadways, the remodeling of the office building, new restrooms, a new shop building, the planting of trees, new benches throughout the grounds, and most recently the opening of a niche facility for above-ground burials have greatly enhanced the cemetery and its operation.
Finishing the attractive fence will only add to its attractiveness.
A funeral service was held last Saturday in Roseville for Dale Selee, son of retired Patterson High teacher and coach Carl and Pat Selee. He was 49 and his death was sudden.
Dale went to elementary school here and graduated from Turlock High after his parents moved to that community. His parents now live in Idaho.
Another loss the other day came with the death of retired teacher Phyllis Stephens. She had been in failing health for some time.
A CALENDAR IDEA
Getting sick of reading about Patterson’s 2014 community event calendar. Here’s an idea passed along to me just before this column’s deadline.
Give the calendar to out-of-town friends and relatives so that they’ll know what’s going on when they plan a visit.
Just call me for delivery or stop by the newspaper office.
I’ve been asked from time to time who I miss from Patterson who have gone to the Great Beyond.
That’s a tough one, as I had many friends who are no longer with us. But right off the top, I can think of five who were either a very close friend, someone I worked with on the staff of this newspaper, or someone who was extremely active in this community.
First there was Pat Phillips, who in 1973 died an untimely death in his late 40s. He was the State Farm agent for the short time he lived here, came from Iowa (we shared Hawkeye experiences) and was Patterson’s mayor when death came suddenly.
Then there was Corky Bessey, Patterson’s Ford dealer for 29 years. But he was more than that – a community promoter active in numerous organizations, the city’s mayor before Pat, and a real gentleman.
Jim Schimpf comes to mind. Jim was my barber, but was more than that. He knew Patterson inside and out and thus was a great source of information. He was very active outside his shop and had a great sense of humor. Many of us miss him.
And finally, two former Irrigator employees – Laura Kimball and Dianna Morgan Penland. Both were close friends of mine away from the business.
Now, don’t ask me that question again or I’ll have to write a book.
FOR THE SPORTS FAN
Patterson High’s rivalry with Central Catholic goes back some 40 years, but the Tigers should take pride that the WAC champion Raiders will be playing this weekend for their consecutive state title.
It only shows just how powerful the WAC has become. And the Tigers were right there, giving Central all it wanted before falling 17-13. That lone regular season loss shows just how far the Patterson program has come.
Now on to basketball. The top college teams are still padding their records before getting into league play. How else would you describe the No. 9 ranked Baylor women beating Houston Baptist 100-57, and the No. 16 Georgia gals blasting Kennesaw State 91-32 over the weekend?
AND FINALLY …
Someone’s always jabbing me about cell phones. Check out this message.
“Did you hear about the guy who thought cell phones were a status symbol? But he couldn’t afford one. So he attached his garage door opener to his belt.”
It makes me proud to be a non-celler.
Ron Swift is the editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.