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Park named for slain CHP officer
HUGHSON - Throngs braved a heat wave to dedicate a private park in the Rhapsody subdivision in the name of slain California Highway Patrolman Earl Scott Thursday evening.

They turned out as a way of remembering one of their own. They remember Scott as the new neighbor who was helpful and friendly. Scott moved to 7205 Rhapsody Lane in Hughson in 2004 not long before he was fatally gunned down during a Feb. 17, 2006 traffic stop near Salida. He was just 36.

"Earl dedicated his life to his friends and family and now we're able to be here to dedicate this park to Earl," said longtime friend Robert Hart, a Modesto policeman.

Scott's father and stepmother, William and Terrie Scott of Salinas, attended the large gathering. They listened as kind words were spoken about their son and watched as a balloon in his name was released.

After the ceremony, Garrett Duddleston of Ceres approached Scott's father to offer a memento: two old racing passes signed by Earl. Duddleston said he found the forgotten papers tucked inside of an old tool box Earl gave him when they were neighbors for 12 years on Central Park Way in Ceres. Scott took them, a brief hush falling as he looked at them.

"Earl would be totally embarrassed but he really loved Rhapsody," said Scott of the ceremony. "He was just starting to bloom in life and everybody was his friend. And he just loved everybody here. This was his first home. He just absolutely loved it over here in Hughson. When he found this subdivision here he said, "This is where I'll be the rest of my life.' "

Duddleston said he is inspired to join the CHP by Earl's memory.

"He was just a great guy, all around," said Duddleston. "He was always really helpful. If you had a project he would help you work on yours. You could go help on his. He's kind of what made me decide to join the CHP."

When he lived in Ceres, Scott was a reserve officer with the Modesto Police Department.

At the time of his death, Scott was nearing his fifth anniversary with the CHP. He had been assigned to the Modesto division of the CHP for three years after starting out in the Santa Cruz area. Scott followed a family tradition of serving in law enforcement. His father is a retired CHP sergeant and two uncles and a cousin were all CHP sergeants.

Hart, who roomed with Scott for 12 years in Ceres, remembers Scott often celebrated the holidays with the Harts and they often went houseboating, fishing, camping and scuba diving together.

"He specifically chose the Rhapsody subdivision after looking at different subdivisions throughout Modesto and Hughson," Hart told the crowd. "Earl would always stop by and talk to me about how great Hughson was and the Rhapsody Association, and the neighbors specifically that he got to be good friends with."

Hart shared that he stopped by Scott's new house on Feb. 5, 2006 for a Superbowl /housewarming party. Scott talked Hart into buying a nearby house. Twelve days later Scott was killed.

"I never got to live the dream that Earl and I had had of being near each other again," said Hart.

Modesto Mayor Jim Ridenour and Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden attended the event as did CHP officers who were Scott's bosses when he made the fatal traffic stop. Also attending were family members of slain Ceres Police Sgt. Howard Stevensonwho was killed on Jan. 9, 2005. Retired Ceres Police Officer Sam Ryno, who was badly injured in the Ceres shooting, attended with wife Lynda.

The ceremony was timed with Thursday's designation of National Peace Officers Week. It also paid homage to other law enforcement members who died in Stanislaus County while on duty. Balloons were released with their names attached. They were: Turlock officer Lavon B. New, who died in a Aug. 14, 1935 motorcycle accident; CHP Officer Earl Ames, Dec. 11, 1936; Turlock officers Joe Kerly and Glenn Winas, Nov. 1, 1949; Turlock patrolman George Bredenberg Jr., Nov. 4, 1949; Riverbank officer Harold Harless, who died Oct. 17, 1965; Sheriff's Deputy Harold Thornton, who died Aug. 23, 1967; Deputy Billy Joe Dickens, who died in a Jan. 27, 1970 Hughson bank robbery shootout; California Highway Patrolman W.R. "Bob" Court, killed Feb. 13, 1970; Turlock Police officer Ray Willert, who died Feb. 9, 1973; and Modesto Police officer Leo Volk, who died May 21, 1973.

The ceremony included a fly-over by the Stanislaus County aero squadron and CHP helicopters.

Shortly after Scott's death the Rhapsody Homeowners Association decided to honor Scott with the naming of the neighborhood park as Earl H. Scott Park.

The suspect in the Scott murder, Columbus Allen of Stockton, is still awaiting trial for murder.