Fire damages Gustine home

A kitchen fire damaged a Gustine home in the 100 block of Sixth Street Saturday afternoon, Feb. 27.

Gustine Fire Chief Pat Borrelli said firefighters were dispatched at about 2 p.m.

He said a neighbor used a fire extinguisher to limit the spread of the blaze until firefighters arrived.

“He (slowed) it down until we got there,” Borrelli stated.

Borrelli said the fire was confined primarily to the kitchen of the home. There was smoke damage throughout the dwelling, he reported.

Borrelli said the damage was estimated at $40,000 to $50,000.

Gustine firefighters were assisted by resources from Santa Nella, Stevinson and Hilmar.

Borrelli said that crews contained the blaze within about 30 minutes. Firefighters were on the scene for more than two hours.

No injuries were reported.

Stanislaus County rent relief program

Stanislaus County tenants are eligible to apply for assistance with rent and utility payments that are in arrears, District 5 Supervisor Channce Condit announced at the Feb. 23 Newman City Council.

According to information provided by the supervisor, the county received approximately $9 million in federal funds and $11 million in state funds for the countywide program. From those amounts, Newman receives allocations of approximately $350,000 in federal funds and $418,000 in state monies.

The program is designed to provide assistance to those who qualify for unemployment or have experienced a loss of household income or other financial hardship due to the pandemic and who have fallen into arrears on their rent and/or utility payments. The two-phase program is open to households which have an annual income of less than 80 percent of the area median income.

Phase 1 of the program will allocate federal funds to assist households unable to pay rent and utilities due to the pandemic. The assistance consists of payment of housing-related arrears, including rent and utilities, that could result in eviction of an eligible household.

For the first 60 days, priority will be given to those with less than 50 percent of the area median income or eligible households which include an individual who has been unemployed for the 90 days prior to application for assistance.

After the first 60 days, the focus is on eligible households at or below 80 percent of the area median income, with funds spent on a first-come, first-served basis.

The 80 percent income threshold for a two-person household is $44,750 annually. For a four-person household, the threshold is $55,900. At 50 percent, the income threshold is $28,000 for a two-person household and $34,950 for a four-person household.

The federal allocation may be used to pay 100 percent of rental and utility arrears accumulated from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

A second phase involves distribution of the state funding. The state program will pay 80 percent of rental arrears accumulated between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, if the landlord agrees to accept 80 percent as payment in full.

If the landlord does not agree, a maximum of 25 percent of rental arrears can be paid through the program.

For more information about the program or to apply, visit www.StanRentAssist.com or call 1-877-211-7826.

Free transit rides in Stanislaus County March 14-20

The three transit providers in Stanislaus County, including Modesto Area Express (MAX), Stanislaus County Regional Transit (StaRT) and Turlock Transit announced recently that all rides on all fixed route buses will be free for passengers during Go Green Week (March 14-20) as part of a joint promotion.  This includes MAX to BART Commuter Express, MAX to ACE Commuter Express, and StaRT’s BART Commuter bus services, but excludes ADA Paratransit, Medivan, and Dial-a-Ride services.

Funding for the joint, free ride promotion is made possible through a grant from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) under the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP).   

The goal of the free ride promotion is to reduce the use of single occupant vehicles in an effort to reduce traffic congestion, pollution and countless hours wasted on freeways.

Residents are encouraged to make the most of this free ride promotion by planning their trips in advance.  Trip planning tools are available on the websites of the transit operators, as well as through smartphone apps such as Google Maps or the Transit app.  These tools make it easy to determine the closest bus stop, the correct route, and in some cases real-time bus arrival information.

All public transit buses in the county are accessible to individuals with disabilities as required by the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).

For more information on MAX and its services, visit www.modestoareaexpress.com or call (209) 521-1274.  For more information on StaRT and its services, visit www.srt.org or call 1-800-2621516.  For more information on Turlock Transit and its services, visit www.turlocktransit.com or call (209) 668-5600.

Newman fire report

Personnel from the Newman Fire Department and West Stanislaus Fire Protection District’s Newman station responded to 17 calls for service from Feb. 19-25. Fire Chief Keith Bowen said the calls included eight medical aid responses, two public assists, two smoke checks, one working structure fire, one mutual aid request, one commercial fire alarm and two “other” type calls.

West Side weather

Newman resident Marge Carvalho, an observer for the National Weather Service, reported the following high/low temperatures for the past week. Readings for the previous 24-hour period are taken at 5 p.m. daily.

Monday, Feb. 22: 75/37

Tuesday, Feb. 23: 77/42

Wednesday, Feb. 24: 76/42

Thursday, Feb. 25: 70/48

Friday, Feb. 26: 73/34

Saturday, Feb. 27: 68/42

Sunday, Feb. 28: 71/43