SWEENEY ENTERS NOT GUILTY PLEA VIA TELEPHONE — Fresno State football coach Jim Sweeney pleaded innocent Monday to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge. Sweeney entered his plea by telephone instead of appearing for his arraignment in Sierra Justice Court at Bass Lake. The veteran coach was stopped July 8 by a California Highway Patrol officer who said his car was weaving on a county road, according to CHP spokesman Ronn Dominici. A breath test taken at Madera County Jail showed that Sweeney had a .10 blood alcohol content, the level at which a driver is considered legally drunk in California. A pre-trial hearing was scheduled Aug. 23.
OTT RESIGNS AS COUNTY COUNSEL — Madera County Counsel Michael Ott will resign his post to take a position with a Fresno law firm. Ott informed the Board of Supervisors of his decision Tuesday during a closed session. “It was a difficult decision, but it is a good career opportunity. It gives me a chance to do what I do best — litigation,” he said. Ott leaves Madera County with a full staff. “Unlike when I got here where there was no county counsel for nine months and only one deputy county counsel, I hope to stay on until the new person comes aboard,” Ott said. Ott has been Madera County Counsel for five years starting on Aug. 4, 1983.
DRAG BOAT DRIVER KILLED OVER WEEKEND AT BERENDA RESERVOIR — A driver was killed over the weekend when his boat went out of control during the Chowchilla Lions Club bi-annual boat races at Berenda Reservoir. Thomas Frank Roland, 43, of Alto Loma, was pronounced dead at Chowchilla District Memorial Hospital after suffering major injuries when his boat, Light Weight, went out of control after crossing the finish line. Officials estimated he was traveling about 128 mph at the time. The accident was attributed to mechanical problems. Apparently Roland’s engine went dead and in the resulting crash, he was ejected from his boat. Roland’s death is the first recorded this year during a Central Valley Drag Boat Association event.
OLD WEST DUEL ON MADERA STREET — Two men who took up .33 revolvers dueled on South Street Sunday, leaving one wounded and the other one at large, according to Police Chief Gordon Skeels. Police are looking for 22 year-old Ociel Ramirez who reportedly entered Fastway Chicken about 1:30 p.m. and challenged a patron. Martin Cortez said he reacted to the threat by taking his wife and son to a laundromat and then returned to his car to retrieve a handgun. Cortez said he dove behind a tree, and the two men were firing at each other when a bullet entered his left leg. Ramirez drove off in a Ford pickup. It is not known what started the altercation, Skeels said...