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Gas prices pushing ACE mass transit

STOCKTON, CA - As gas prices continue to rise well beyond $4, ACE directors said a result is higher ridership on their trains.

Altamont Commuter Express sends several trains each day between the Central Valley and the Bay Area.  Ridership in March 2011 was about 20 percent higher than last year at the same time.

ACE spokesman Thomas Reeves said higher employment is one reason for the increase.  But he stressed high gas prices play a large role as well.

Even with the increase in daily passengers, Reeves said ACE trains were only about 60 percent full.

By tdaly@news10.net

Plane makes emergency landing near Port of Stockton; Pilot OK

Plane makes emergency landing near Port of Stockton; Pilot OK

STOCKTON - A small plane made an emergency landing in a field near the Port of Stockton around 11:30 a.m. Friday. The sole occupant, Robin Hou, an attorney from Southern California, reported engine problems before having to make the abrupt landing.

Hou was not injured in the hard descent. He said he was piloting training flights in the area, out of the Stockton Metropolitan Airport.

March busy month at Stockton-San Joaquin Library

March busy month at Stockton-San Joaquin Library

STOCKTON - The Stockton-San Joaquin County Library reported March was its highest circulating month this fiscal year (July 1, 2010 to current) with 166,272 books going out into the Stockton and San Joaquin County area. The 2011 circulation year to date is 1,244,397, higher than the numbers for this time last year, listed at 1,236,010.

In addition to being the highest circulating month so far this year, March was also the month with the highest:

Gate count - people entering the library (104,834)
Reference questions - people asking library professional reference related questions (16,700)
Programs held - throughout all 12 branches (and in the community) the library has hosted many programs this month (221)

It's been a busy month at the library! For details about programs the library offers, click here.

Stockton police: Hands-free devices don't work either

STOCKTON, CA - Stockton Police Department began its zero tolerance distracted driving enforcement program Tuesday, and it came with an extra message.

In a news release, Officer Pete Smith said various studies show that there is no difference in the risks between hands-free and hand-held cell phone conversations while driving. Smith said both conversations can result in inattentional blindness, which is a mental distraction the keeps the driver from seeing what is clearly visible because their mind is on the phone conversation.

Smith also said that police will be out on Tuesday and Wednesday looking for drivers who are driving and texting. Any tickets received will cost drivers at least $159 for the first offense and at least $279 for any repeat offenses. The crack down is a part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Stockton schoolteacher robbed in Hazelton Elementary classroom

Stockton schoolteacher robbed in Hazelton Elementary classroom

STOCKTON - A Stockton teacher was robbed while preparing for class Tuesday morning at Hazelton Elementary School, located at 535 West Jefferson Street.

Stockton Police spokesman Pete Smith said the teacher was not injured, but there was a scuffle when an unidentified man walked into her classroom around 7:40 a.m. and robbed her of her purse.

No students were in the room at the time of the incident. Smith described the robber as a black man in his 40s or 50s. No further description was provided.

By Tim Daly, tdaly@news10.net

Free tax assistance still available

Free tax assistance still available

The Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library is partnering with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to bring free 2010 income tax assistance to our community. The VITA program offers free income tax help to families earning $54,000 or less a year.

Residents interested in getting free income tax assistance must schedule an appointment with Arnetta Lee-Gray, VITA coordinator, by calling her at (209) 483-4190.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance will be offered at the following libraries:

Cesar Chavez Central Library - 605 North El Dorado Street in Stockton; Tuesday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tracy Branch Library - 20 East Eaton Avenue in Tracy; Thursday, April 7, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This free program is provided through the generosity of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

City of Stockton to launch new website Wednesday

City of Stockton to launch new website Wednesday

STOCKTON - The City of Stockton will launch a new website design on Wednesday, March 30. The new site will offer several enhancements, including: improved navigation and search capability, home page links to online services, news and events listings, and an online Document Room.

The city's website address, www.stocktongov.com, will not change. However, addresses for all pages will change. Frequent city website users should plan to visit the site after March 30, navigate to favorite or frequently visited pages, and update favorites, bookmarks or links with the new page location.

Information on the new site is accessible through menus and the search function.