SCHOOL DISTRICT ASKS EMPLOYEES FOR HELP ON HEALTH COSTS — Madera Unified School officials are asking teachers and staff this year to shoulder the burden of crushing health insurance cost increases. Teachers, secretaries, janitors and other employees may be asked to contribute as much as $128 per person monthly to offset a dramatic increase in health care premiums. MUSD superintendent Tom Riley said that $1,280 a year for each employee has got to be paid from somewhere. “If you want a Cadillac plan, you pay a Cadillac price.” Madera County president of the California Teachers Association, Mike Tomazin, cited employee benefit abuse and the lack of healthy lifestyles among workers as critical elements in the soaring premium rates.
RAY POOL BEHIND THE HEADLINES — Crop-dusting farmer Ray Pool is the subject of this week’s look behind the headlines. Pool is married (to Audrey Pool) and makes his living farming and crop-dusting. He likes both but not necessarily in that order. The thing that gives him the most pleasure is seeing younger people succeed in their lives. He says he loses patience with his mate when she stores leftovers covered in the fridge for weeks. The last truly stupid thing he did was to invest in stock two days before the crash — on margin. The memory he can’t shake was deliberately leaving the school grounds in the eighth grade to go swimming and surely forfeiting a chance for the American Legion Award. Pool says his friends say his best quality is tenacity (short for bulldog determination), and his worst quality is tenacity (short for bullheadedness).
22,000 ATTRACTED TO WARBIRDS GATHERING — More than 22,000 people watched as pilots and parachutists performed this week in the 17th annual Gathering of the Warbirds at the Madera Municipal Airport. This year’s show was dedicated to World War II hero Col. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington who died this year. Boyington’s wife was in attendance at the air show and was presented with a plaque during opening ceremonies. A missing man formation was flown over the airfield during the show in honor of Boyington. The crowd was treated to bomber and fighter fly-bys as well as aircraft aerobatics and a mock World War II air battle.
ALVIDREZ MAKES EIGHTH BID FOR CITY COUNCIL — Perennial candidate Rudy Alvidrez will again seek an elusive seat on the Madera City Council as he makes his eighth bid in 17 years for the city’s governing body. Alvidrez said he is throwing his hat into the ring again because “people are suffering with the city government, and I’m trying to heal the wounds.” Alvidrez launched his first run for the city council in 1972, and missed being on subsequent ballots only once, that being in 1982. “I’m a believer in trying to beat the system, to beat the odds,” Alvidrez said. “I know I’ve run many times and never made it, but I have my hopes and dreams that people will come out of their homes and vote this time.” ...