• An update on Gustine’s “brown” water situation from a couple of weeks ago.

We’re advised by city officials that a thorough flushing of the system appears to have cleared the water and that complaints have subsided.

City Manager Doug Dunford reported that testing at three locations in the system showed elevated levels of manganese in the water. He described manganese as essentially a hard water mineral which can collect in pipes. While elevated, Dunford reported, the levels of manganese identified in the testing were still within acceptable ranges.

The theory, he said, continues to be that heavy equipment working in the area of Meredith Avenue caused the built-up mineral to dislodge from the pipes.

So that’s the latest....and we’ll hope that the water situation is (literally) cleared up.

• Our friends at Pioneer Drug stores in Newman and Gustine advise that they are receiving shipments of COVID-19 vaccines and working through the waiting lists of those signed up to receive the vaccine. Ben Parolini at Gustine Pioneer and Tom Bragdon at Newman Pioneer each reported earlier this week that they are optimistic that the supply chain is improving and vaccines will soon be more readily available.

They invite residents eligible under current guidelines and interested in being vaccinated to call their local Pioneer Drug to be put on the waiting list.....

• The phone calls came to my cell minutes apart on Monday morning.

The first was from authorities alerting me to suspicious activity on my financial accounts and advised me that an investigation had been opened and that a warrant was issued in my name. I hung up as the recorded call was giving me the opportunity to speak with an individual, I’m guessing to resolve the legal entanglement by sending a large sum of money to some untraceable account. I do have to say, though, that it was awful nice of them to give me advance notice that I was facing arrest. I didn’t realize that law enforcement was so accommodating these days!

The second call was offering a free cruise vacation.....unfortunately, my calendar is kind of booked so I didn’t get all the way through their pitch, either, before I had to hang up and get back to work.

Have to say, though, that the prospect of spending a week on a cruise ship sounded a lot more appealing than the arrest warrant scam!

• Gustine City Hall and the Gustine Police Department will be opening their lobby areas to the public on March 15 for the first time since the pandemic struck a year ago.

Couldn’t be happier to see that.....definitely a positive development and a step in the right direction.

One of the things that I find a little mind-boggling is that nearly a year has passed since I set foot in one of our city halls, police departments or school district offices.....places that I used to frequent on a very regular basis (probably to the point that they got tired of seeing me walk through the door).

Even in Gustine, though, it sounds like things won’t be the same as public access will be limited strictly to the front lobby area. Still, that’s something.

Hopefully we can keep the virus on a downward trajectory and will see more public offices opening up in the near future......

• So.....the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District will soon be searching for a new superintendent with the retirement of Randy Fillpot at the end of June.

We wish him well on his retirement, and appreciate his seven years of service as superintendent. The district has made a number of positive strides in that time and earned accolades in educational circles.

But the attention will soon turn to finding a successor, and I am among those who believe that the single most critical role a school board performs is hiring a superintendent.

Hiring the right superintendent, to be precise.

The importance of finding an individual who is a good fit for the district, its needs and its goals cannot be overstated.

For all the progress the district has made in recent years much emains to be done, and finding the right person to lead this district forward is imperative.

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.