A little bit about a lot of things:

• Deeply saddened to learn last week of the death of Fire Captain Paul Rotondaro Wednesday morning in a motor vehicle accident.

Rotondaro was a Cal Fire captain who since 2016 had been assigned to the Gustine station which the community’s volunteer department shares with Merced County (which contracts with Cal Fire to staff its stations).

Rotondaro leaves his wife and two children, ages 13 years and 16 months....and is also deeply mourned by those he knew and worked with in the Gustine community.

While I did not know him extremely well, Rotondaro always seemed a good fit for Gustine and was well-liked by both the public and the close brotherhood of the local firefighting community. His death hit many hard.

In my interaction with the fire captain, he was always cordial, helpful and professional.

Rotondaro genuinely cared about Gustine and the people here.

Part of his legacy will be the new fire engine which the volunteer Gustine department is to receive in the future. Rotondaro was instrumental in helping the city put together the successful grant application, and I think that he was every bit as excited as Fire Chief Pat Borrelli about the local department getting its much-needed new engine.

Fire Captain Rotondaro served the community well, and will be deeply missed.

• Loved this event....students at a couple of Newman-Crows Landing USD elementary schools - Hunt and Hurd Barrington - enjoyed an “eat the rainbow” event last week.

The special lunch gives students the opportunity to try a wide variety of fresh produce....including some they had probably never heard of before.

I enjoy seeing events which raise awareness of healthy, sound nutrition.

Many of us don’t exactly have the best dietary habits, and in some cases students have probably only limited exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Simply raising awareness of sound nutrition is critical.

We live in a world where convenience sometimes trumps all else....it’s not like most of us don’t indulge in the occasional fast food stop, and sometimes eat processed food items, sweet treats or anything that comes out of a box or can. But let’s face it (and I’m the first to acknowledge that I’m not always the worlds best eater) from a standpoint of sound nutrition that falls short.

But it was truly enjoyable to watch the students at Hunt Thursday go through the service line and ponder various items....some of which they were probably trying for the first time.

Looked like grapes, the different colors of carrots and strawberries were among the hits, and students tried some less common items as well. Eggplant didn’t seem to be very popular (okay, I’m with the kids on that one).

But not only did students try new things, they discovered that they actually liked some of those items.

Plenty of tasty food can come from the produce department (or better yet the garden), the meat counter and dairy aisle.

Sometimes, though, that message gets lost in the din of marketing campaigns and the rush of today’s hurried world.

Slow down.

And eat your veggies.

• Going to be a crazy week (or crazier than usual) next week, as both Orestimba and Gustine are hosting their 2019 homecoming festivities.

A full week of activities are planned, as readers will find outlined elsewhere in this edition.

Homecoming, like graduations, can kind of be a challenge when falling on the same week for both schools.

We have many couples comprised of one partner from Gustine and the other from Newman, and if they both are homecoming fans next week poses a dilemma. No fun having to choose.

But, that aspect aside, enjoy homecoming and all that it entails.....from the parades and the dress-up days to the royalty and the football games.

And if you happen to notice some unusual fashion choices among the student body next week....well, its homecoming!

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.