A little bit about a lot of things:

• Scam alert!

The Newman Police Department reminds residents to be particularly vigilant in avoiding scams in the wake of renewed reports of folks getting phone calls from con artists posing as representatives of, say, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the Internal Revenue Service and such.

The common theme is a threat.....let’s say you get a call from somebody pretending to be with PG&E saying your bill is overdue and your service will be shut off unless you immediately send payment, or someone claiming to be an IRS employee saying taxes are due and a warrant for your arrest will be issued if you don’t immediately make payment.

Neither agency is going to call you, for the record. And neither is going to take payment in, say, gift cards they want you to run down to the local drug store to purchase.

Police Chief Randy Richardson said the callers are spoofing phone numbers to make it appear they are calling from the agencies the purport to represent.....but don’t be fooled.

Kat and I recently got a call which came up on our caller ID as a baseball parent we know but turned out to be somebody else pitching something. That’s a little scary....but goes to show that you can’t trust that the number showing up on your phone is legit.

Anybody getting a call that includes A) a threat, followed by B) a demand for some form of immediate payment, should hang up, and report the incident. If you have any further concern, contact the agency in question using its public number to verify that the call you got was in fact a scam.

And also beware the “too good to be true” pitches, such as steeply discounted airline tickets being offered on eBay, which Richardson said as one example of another type of scam.

Con artists can use convincing letters as well to try to separate you from your money.

Don’t jump at any offer that sounds too good to be true, send money to process your winnings from a lottery you didn’t enter or be bullied by threats into sending money that you’ll never see again.

There is always a red flag (if not several). Don’t ignore them, or you may be out your hard-earned cash.

• I sometimes get my fill of meetings....seems like some weeks are just packed with one after the other, but I am looking forward to two that are on the calendar later this month.

The Newman-Crows Landing Unified School Board and Newman City Council will be taking part in a joint meeting next Wednesday, Aug. 14, at 6 p.m. at the McConnell Adult Education Center.

That is the first time the two governing boards have fully convened together since April 2013, according to district staff, though they do have periodic sub-committee meetings. That’s far too long.

Given that facility projects in general - and discussion of a pool specifically - may come up, I think the discussion could be very interesting indeed.

One week later, the city of Gustine and Gustine Chamber of Commerce will host a sit-down with business owners to discuss topics of mutual concern. That meeting starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, in the City Council chambers.

Our local school districts and cities do partner on some things....sharing facilities is one example that comes to mind, and school resource officer agreements are another. But I have always felt like there are greater opportunities for collaborative efforts that could be pursued....in Newman, working together toward building of a pool is one example. We are small enough communities that it just makes sense to partner whenever possible. Our schools and cities can provide more for their communities working together than either can bring to the table alone, I would think.

I also believe that business communities and cities should have open lines of communication, so a merchant meeting makes absolute sense. I would love to see something along those lines as well in Newman, just as I would like to see the Gustine school board and Gustine City Council meet.

Those meetings should be held maybe once a year.

Not that anybody is doing anything wrong.

But every now and then, you just need to bring everybody to the table for a sit-down and some frank discussion - with the idea of improving services to the constituents you share. And like anything else, if the focus is on finding ways to make things happen as opposed to trotting out reasons why they can’t.....well, who knows where that may lead?

• So....sometimes the news is a moving target. Case in point came last week with our story that the Gustine Planning Commission was going to take up a comprehensive commercial cannabis application last night (Aug. 7).

We learned Thursday that the meeting had been pushed back to next Wednesday, Aug. 14, to remedy a procedural oversight on the part of the city involving the notification of property owners surrounding the proposed site.

I suspect that when the Gustine Planning Commission does take up the issue (which will ultimately be decided by the City Council), the dispensary aspect of the proposal will be that which draws the most scrutiny and debate.

The addition of a retail sales component to the application does certainly change the dynamic, and we’ll see how that plays with both the public and city decision-makers.

Of course, going back to the meeting topic, that’s also the same night as the Newman council/school board joint meeting and the Gustine school board meeting.....choices to be made, aren’t there?


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.