A little bit about a lot of things:

• Pleased to present our semi-annual “mass-mailer” this week, packed with a variety of community news and special human interest stories.

Twice each year we publish an expanded issue which goes out to all households from Crows Landing to Santa Nella.

Planning for the special issue starts several weeks out, and the paper you hold in your hands today is filled with a variety of features, news stories, photos and more.

There is no shortage of interesting stories on the West Side, and we endeavor to share as many as we possibly can on a regular basis.

Our mass-mailer provides an expanded version of what we do week in and week out, and I greatly enjoy the opportunity it affords to visit with people and learn their stories.

Everybody, I believe, does have a story to share and (no offense intended), visiting with somebody about theirs usually beats being at a school board or city council meeting.

We are ultimately in a people business, after all.

We hope you enjoy this special edition....and don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have your own human interest or news story idea to share. Call me at 243-8104, or email dharris@mattosnews.com.

• Time to fall back....unfortunately.

The change from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time happens Sunday morning at 2 a.m.

I look forward to the spring, when Daylight Saving Time starts.....but I really don’t like the switch back to Standard Time.

It portends the start of winter....and the dreary days when darkness has fallen before the end of the work day. So much for getting a little yard work done, or just sitting on the back patio enjoying a beverage at the end of the day.

In theory we get an “extra” hour of sleep Saturday night.

I’d rather have the evening daylight.

• From one busy week to another.....numerous local elections are in store next Tuesday, with city, school and special district seats on the ballot, as well as a Gustine measure which would extend the mayoral term of office from two years to four.

We have seen in the past that a handful of votes can be critical in determining the outcome of a local race.....those decided by a vote or two are not unheard of; and a couple of ties come to mind.

Make your vote count.

• Seems like we have seen a significant increase this fall in the local mosquito population in Newman (and probably in Gustine as well, since the insects don’t respect county lines).

It wasn’t just my imagination, as officials with our mosquito abatement district confirmed this week that mosquitoes have been plentiful this fall.

Mosquitoes, it seems, enjoy the warm fall weather as much as humans and are reproducing prolifically.

While I’m advised that this time of year is not typically a peak period for transmission of mosquito-borne viruses such as West Nile, taking precautions against being bitten is always a good idea. Playing it safe is always the better option.....because nobody wants to be that person who plays the odds and loses.

A wealth of information is available on the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District (serving the West Side of Stanislaus County) and Merced County Mosquito Abatement District websites, and service requests can be submitted on line.

I always find it fascinating to visit with the managers of those agencies, gaining insight into everything  involved in trying to keep mosquitoes in check. That’s no small task, especially given our neighboring wetlands and duck clubs.

Cold weather will eventually curb the mosquito population until next year but in the meantime stay safe by wearing protective clothing and using repellents when outdoors, particularly at dawn and dusk when the insects are most active.....and reporting mosquito infestations to the appropriate abatement district!

· Just a reminder.....the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District is hosting an early literacy summit  at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the West Side Theatre to unveil its school-ready initiative.

The footsteps2brilliance digital literacy program which the district is making available free of charge to its families is a valuable learning tool, giving youngsters a start on developing their literacy skills long before they reach school age.

Parents are invited to join educational leaders at the event.

Innovative approaches such as footsteps2brilliance are critical to closing the achievement gap and helping provide all students with a strong foundation for success in the classroom and beyond.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.