BRAY REPLACES CLUTE AT CHAMBER — Val Clute was removed from his position as executive vice president of the Madera District Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, and Debi Bray, administrative assistant for the Chamber, has been appointed as interim executive vice president. The chamber asked Clute to give his resignation earlier this week, but he refused. Clute said he inherited a chamber with financial problems, a declining membership, and no experienced staff. According to Clute, his three years with the chamber were productive, as membership was built up and an experienced staff was groomed. Clute said the nature and membership of the board had changed, and “the chemistry wasn’t working.” He criticized the chamber board for not putting enough effort into fund raising and for looking too closely into his day-to-day operations of the chamber office.
THIRD DRY YEAR BRINGS ON ROW CROP CUTS — When tractors kick up dust in late January, farmers will tell you there’s trouble ahead. Anxiety is descending upon growers and water managers throughout the Valley as a grim water outlook trickles down from snow surveys and the dry skies above. If 1989 proves to be a sequel to last year’s skimpy rain and snowfall, growers predict land planned for row crops such as rice and alfalfa may be idled to save water for more valuable crops, such as vegetables and tree fruit. Crop quality will be reduced because of the dry weather. Operators of the federal Central Valley Project are planning cutbacks up to 50 percent for agricultural users. Some growers might profit more from selling their water than bothering to till the land. Growers said the greatest difficulty appears to be for the farmer who is trying to obtain financing in the light of the water shortage.
MUSD WILL GO TO COURT OVER SUSPENSION POLICY — The resolute mother of a Madera High School student suspended for allegedly threatening a teacher will force Madera Unified to defend its disciplinary procedures in court March 17. Aloma M. Vasquez served Superintendent Tom Riley with a writ of mandate charging Madera High School administrators with circumventing due process in the suspension of her son, Jason Motte. The incident arose when Motte was kissing his fiance in the hallway outside a classroom. Motte said he argued with teacher Mike Pursell and then told his fiance, “I wish he would hit me so I could whip his butt.” The petition states Motte was denied his right to defend himself and bring witnesses on his behalf and that the MHS administrators refused to rescind the suspension until a hearing could be conducted.
DEAL WITH HOSPITAL INKED BY SUPERVISORS — Supervisors entered into an agreement Tuesday, which will provide Madera Community Hospital with $100,000 for the first five months of the year and $20,000 a month to follow until new indigent care eligibility standards and procedures are developed. According to County Administrative Officer Don Handly, the action wipes out the county’s contingency fund, leaving no financial cushion for the rest of the fiscal year. The resolution was hailed by Madera Community Hospital Board representative Darwin Shebelut who praised the county for their willingness to negotiate. “If we bargain in good faith, we can work for both sides. I am pleased with the way it came together,” Shebelut said...