MADERA’S FIRST FEMALE FIREFIGHTER — Glancing from the roof of a burning home at the ground 20 feet below, an uneasiness passed over Phyllis Upton that she pushed aside as she remembered her goal. She was taking another step on her way to becoming the Madera Fire Department’s first female volunteer. Clad in oversized, fire-resistant pants and boots several sizes too large, Upton recently had her first brush with fire at a local control burn. The 27 year-old said the challenge of firefighting piqued her interest and after attending training sessions, she resolved to become the department’s eighth volunteer.
JENSEN’S IDEA GETS COOL RECEPTION — A proposal by Supervisor Rick Jensen to start an evaluation program for appointed department heads met with a cool reception by other board members Tuesday. Jensen noted that the board does not have such an evaluation process and brought the suggestion to the board. Supervisor Harry Baker said employee evaluations are a double-edged sword. “Unless the employee is screwing up, the evaluation is generally positive, but in the future, if an employee is in line to be fired, those positive evaluations can come back to haunt the employer.” The board didn’t take any action on Jensen’s request.
TAX COLLECTOR ISSUE HANDED TO GRAND JURY — Supervisors agreed the Madera County Grand Jury is best qualified to look into the operation of the Madera County Tax Collector’s office and voted Tuesday to ask it to start an investigation. The directive came following two public sessions in which supervisors questioned Tax Collector Janice Whipkey’s leadership. Tuesday’s discussion was preceded by an exchange of words between County Counsel Mike Ott and Whipkey’s husband, Les. When Mrs. Whipkey was halted from reading a public statement, her husband stepped to the podium and read it over the vocal objections of Ott. Concerns over the tax collector’s office started in June.
CITY CONSIDERS CHARGING RESIDENTS FOR PARKWAYS — The possibility of homeowners paying for the upkeep of landscaped island areas on the streets they live created a large debate at the City Council meeting Monday night. The Barsotti Tract was chosen as an example area. If the landscaping could be seen through a window of the house, the lot was designated as receiving primary benefits. If the main street used to access the home had the planted parkway, the lot was designated secondary. Under the plan, primary beneficiaries would pay $67.20 per year and $21.59 if they were secondary. Dr. Calvin Gatz, who lives in the tract, told the council, “I think it is your property and you should take care of it.” Gatz asked how the city would go about “un-owning the parkways?” ...