GUN BAN TALK ANGERS COLLECTORS — Talk of banning semi-automatic weapons ignited by the shooting in a Stockton school last week has angered local gun collectors and boosted the sale of the weapons. Hobbyists are rushing to buy semi-automatic weapons, said Chuck Frazier of Central California Gun Exchange in Madera. The AK-47 has been a fast moving item at Frazier’s business. “We were selling six, seven, eight a week, and now it’s at least that many in a day,” Frazier said. The proposed ban has boosted the sale of all semi-automatic weapons at Frazier’s store and angered collectors like himself.
DISTRICT MOVES TO FIRE OGELLA — More than 80 people packed the chambers of the MUSD Board of Trustees to watch a four-hour public hearing held to determine the professional fate of Ron Ogella, the director of maintenance and operations for the school district. He has been suspended without pay since early November and requested the hearing. Assistant superintendent John Cruz testified that several employees under Ogella were uncomfortable with his management style. Although board president Gloria Kunz said no decision will be made until all witnesses have been heard, Ogella’s attorney, Ernest Tuttle, claimed his client has been deprived of due process. “You take a man, you take his pay, you take his benefits — you’ve fired him,” Tuttle said.
PHILLIPS COMPLAINS OF NOISE IN CELLS — As part of a lawsuit against prison officials, Richard Phillips testified to a federal monitor that constant noise in the cells from exhaust fans that run around the clock was so loud that “you couldn’t hear anything” or fall asleep without earplugs. He also said an order last year removing shelves from the cells left him without any way to keep his legal papers from getting wet when the toilet overflowed. Phillips, 39, convicted of a 1977 murder in Madera County, had his death sentence overturned by the State Supreme Court in 1985, and is awaiting a penalty retrial.
SHOPPING CENTER GETS APPROVAL; TRAFFIC COULD DOUBLE ON ROAD 26 — A new shopping center, which could eventually triple traffic on Road 26, was approved this week by the Madera County Planning Commission. Commissioners approved a rezoning and a general plan amendment to allow the development of 19.25 acres, a half-mile north of Avenue 17, by Daggett & Associates and Paul McKee. Daggett & Associates have big plans for the area, predicting that Road 26 will become a major street, and the commercial zone will be needed as a divider between the traffic and the residential area...