A little bit about a lot of things:

• The latest message on the West Side Theatre marquee waxes philosophical with its verbiage.....

“No arts, no life....know arts, know life.”

The thought-provoking message can be interpreted a number of ways, and we will leave it to others to decide for themselves what to take away.

But the absence of the arts has certainly been among the voids created by COVID-19.

West Side Theatre has been dark since the pandemic hit, but David and Farris Larsen, founders of the West Side Theare Foundation, said there may be a ray of light ahead.

Two events have been booked for August in anticipation of pandemic restrictions further relaxing....and we all certainly hope that happens!

As for the production of “Savannah Sipping Society” which was initially planned for a year ago before being put on indefinite hold, Farris Larsen advises that we should look for that show next April. Hopefully we’re in a much, much different world by then.

Even though the theatre has been dark, she noted, monthly expenses have continued and the efforts of volunteers and community supporters have been instrumental in helping the foundation wait out the pandemic.

“The theatre is not going anywhere,” pledged Farris Larsen.

West Side Theatre is truly a gem. We look forward to the day when the lights come back up and the shows begin anew......

• Word from Newman City Hall is that a months-long interruption in street sweeping services is over.

Director of Public Works Kathryn Reyes advised that the city’s sweeper is back in service after requiring extensive work to repair damage caused when the vehicle caught fire in mid-December.

That’s a long time to be without sweeping of those things to which you don’t give a second thought until you no longer have it.

The absence of street sweeping had become visibly noticeable, and we had wondered why the city didn’t bring in a contract service to make a run or two through town while its own sweeper was out of service. The short answer, Reyes said, is money.

She said the city inquired about services but found the cost prohibitive. Simply sweeping the downtown area was six grand a month, Reyes reported, so the city simply decided to wait it out.

Fortunately (and we’re keeping fingers crossed) the wait appears to be over.

• Newman seniors have a new voice at the county level.

RoseLee Hurst reports that she has been appointed to the Stanislaus County Commission on Aging, an advisory body to the county Board of Supervisors and county Area Agency on Aging.

The commission offers input to the Area Agency on Aging on issues of concern to seniors and works with local providers of senior services who are contracted by the Agency on Aging, according to its website.

Hurst said members such as herself offer grass-roots, community-based feedback on the needs of local seniors.

Among her top priorities, she told Mattos Newspapers, are the senior nutrition program and a home-share program being rolled out for seniors. Such programs, Hurst reflected, address fundamental needs of seniors.

Hurst wants to hear from local seniors about their needs and concerns so she can take that information to the commission. She can be reached at 681-5220.

I appreciate the volunteer efforts of Hurst and others in our communities who freely dedicate their time and energy to serving and improving the lives of others.

After all, we’re strongest when we look out for one another.


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