A tribute to a policeman and a Caltrans worker

Normally we try to emphasize the positive on Saturdays. But today, we must begin by acknowledging the unfortunate deaths of two longtime public servants.

We extend our sincerest sympathy to the family and law enforcement colleagues of Sgt. Steve May, who died Thursday, seven years after he was involved in a collision while pursuing an auto theft and assault suspect.

May is only the second Modesto police officer to die as a result of injuries suffered in the line of duty. A full police funeral is tentatively set for Wednesday.

Diana May visited her husband daily during his long hospitalization, during which he never regained consciousness. His MPD peers and others throughout the community never forgot the veteran officer or his 24 years of admirable service to Modesto.

Sympathy cards may be sent to the family in care of the Modesto Police Department, 600 10th St., Modesto 95354. Donations may be made to the Peace Officer Memorial Group of Stanislaus County, P.O. Box 577105, Modesto 95357.

We also extend sympathy to the family, friends and co-workers of Caltrans employee Donald Lichliter, 53, who was struck by a truck Thursday as he worked along Highway 99 near Lodi. He had worked for the state for 27 years.

While this accident is still being investigated, it simply underscores the inherent dangers for Caltrans employees and those working for contractors. As the agency frequently reminds us, and as is the law, we need to slow for the orange cones and signs and be respectful of people working on or along the roads.


Thumbs up: To the Modesto City Schools for establishing a Web site,, that makes it easier for families to sign up their children even before school opens for the year. Signs promoting the site are posted at schools throughout the district. It's a good strategy and the site is user-friendly and touts the advantages of Modesto schools.


Thumbs down: To Atwater Councilman Gary Frago for forwarding racist e-mails to other local officials. Frago did apologize, although it wasn't clear whether he actually regretted his actions or only that they drew so much criticism from around the country.


Thumbs up: To Stanislaus County supervisors for agreeing to meet jointly with the Patterson City Council next month. Supervisor Jim DeMartini pushed the session, in part because the two bodies usually meet at the same time. The meeting will be held Aug. 18 at Patterson City Hall, which will make it a little inconvenient for Modesto area citizens who want to attend. But the county board and Patterson council have had so many differences in the last couple of years, largely over the future of the former Crows Landing Naval Air base, that this could be productive. Other supervisors suggested joint meetings with other councils, too. Good idea.