Twenty-five years ago, the Madera City Council received a letter from Lt. W.V. Rezek concerning a fighter plane that had been named “The City of Madera.” Rezek wrote that the plane had completed 175 combat missions in air raids on North Viet Nam and that Madera could be proud of its namesake and “the history she has written in the skies over North Viet Nam.” (Courtesy of The Madera County Historical Society
25 Years Ago in the Week of Aug. 21, 1991
POLICE SEARCH FOR KIDNAPPED BOY, ABDUCTOR — Police are looking for a 2-year-old Madera boy kidnapped Sunday morning from his home at 316 Malone Street. Investigators are asking citizens for information on the whereabouts of Jorge Najera. Police said the incident began with an argument between the youth’s mother, Blanca Najera, and Luis Cruz, a 29-year-old man living with her. Cruz wanted Najera to move away from Madera with him. When she refused, the suspect became outraged and took the child and her car while fleeing the scene. The vehicle was found Tuesday in Madera, but the child has not been seen. Police said Cruz may be staying at a farm labor camp in Madera County or could be headed for Mexico.
SECOND PRISON FOR MADERA COUNTY APROVED BY STATE — The California Department of Corrections has officially selected a 650-acre site across from the current Central California Women’s Facility to be the location of an identical 2,000-bed women’s prison. The planned second women’s prison would be located north of Avenue 24 and west of Road 22. Area almond growers have raised objections to construction of the prison at its planned site because of the potential restrictions on the use of pesticides so close to the prison. They claim aerial crop dusting would also be hindered because there are state restrictions on flying directly over a prison facility.
RILEY GETS TWO-YEAR CONTRACT EXTENSION — Madera Unified School Superintendent Tom Riley received a two-year extension of his current contract at Tuesday night’s meeting of the district’s trustees. The deal runs through June 1994. He will not get a raise on his current $84,000 annual salary due to budget restrictions. Board President Gus Gustaveson said, “The average superintendent’s longevity in the state of California is around four years; it’s not meant to show that the board is completely happy with everything that is going on. There are problems that arise all the time, but it is important to show confidence in the superintendent.”
MIDEIROS WANTS RETURN OF TRIED, TESTED PROGRAMS — A 20-year-career in the U.S. Army, which included 13 years in management, will be an asset Michael Mideiros feels he can offer Madera Unified if he is successful in his run for a seat on the local school board. “A major issue facing Madera Unified is providing a meaningful education for students when approximately 88 percent of the budget goes for employee salaries and benefits,” says Mideiros. He also says “tried and tested” programs should be used, instead of new curriculum such as Pumsy. Mideiros is calling for evaluating district employees to make sure they are qualified.
NO PROGRESS IN WEBSTER’S WATER WOES — Efforts at chlorinating the bacteria out of the well at Webster Elementary School have failed so far, forcing children and staff to drink and cook with bottled water for at least another week. Bob Owen, MUSD director of field operations, said his staff has used heavy concentrations of chlorine twice now to eradicate the buildup of bacterial cultures detected in the school’s one well. “Now that the newness of bottled water has worn off, it is just like having a fountain,” said Assistant Principal Frank Smith. The bottled water is costing the district between $100 and $200 a day, but Owen said he could see few alternatives to spending the money.
50 Years Ago in the Week of Aug. 21, 1966
CHIDLAW SUES STATE OVER BERENDA INTERSECTION — Thomas Chidlaw of Chowchilla has filed a more than $200,000 suit against the State of California for leaving U.S. 99 Highway at Berenda in a “dangerous condition.” Chidlaw claims that a curve blocks northbound travelers’ vision of vehicles entering the highway from Avenue 20. By the time cross traffic can be seen, a collision is unavoidable, he alleges. The state should have known about this dangerous condition years ago and made corrections, Chidlaw asserts. The highway doesn’t even have a warning sign ahead of the intersection, he notes. Chidlaw was previously involved in an accident with a truck from Tharp Trucking at the site.
YOUTH SERIOUSLY HURT IN FOOTBALL PRACTICE — Don Helmuth, 17, was seriously injured at football practice Monday evening at Madera High School. Helmuth, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Helmuth suffered head injuries during tackling practice and was taken to St. Agnes Hospital for brain surgery. Reports indicated that the injured high school senior had not regained consciousness following the surgery. Helmuth was hurt following a tackling play, after which he got to his feet. He then became unresponsive while talking to Coach Jerry Johnson. An ambulance was called immediately; He was taken to Dearborn Hospital and then transferred to St. Agnes in Fresno.
MADERA WARPLANE IN VIET NAM RAIDS — The warplane, “City of Madera” has completed 175 combat missions in air raids on North Viet Nam, according to a letter from Lt. W.V. Rezek to the Madera City Council. The plane carrying Madera’s name presently flies with Attack Squadron 146, based in the South China Sea. The squadron is known as the “Blue Diamonds.” “She has carried more than her share of the load for the squadron and was used on the initial Haiphong strike of June 20, 1966,” says Rezek’s letter. You can be proud of your namesake and the history she has written in the skies over North Viet Nam,” Rezek concludes.
REAGAN WILL BRING CAMPAIGN TO MADERA — Republican gubernatorial candidate Ronald Reagan will bring his Valley agricultural campaign tour to Madera Thursday when he will meet with farmers and ranchers to discuss problems and issues. The GOP hopeful is scheduled to fly into the Madera airport at 2 p.m. and then travel to the Will Gill and Sons feed lot on Pine Street where a tour of the cattle facility will be made. A short talk by the candidate and a question and answer session will take place. Local Reagan supporters have issued an open invitation to all persons, especially farmers, to meet with the candidate.
LACK OF ENTHUSIASM FOR FAIR DISCUSSED — More community support for the upcoming Old Timer’s Day Parade, barbecue, and Madera District Fair was discussed during the Madera County Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday evening. Dino Petrucci, who works with Madera Young Farmers preparing the barbecue, told chamber directors he feels the community “has let the fair, parade, and all that goes with it go astray.” Directors acknowledged sagging support for the local activities. Director Les Hayes suggested moving the fair date ahead to the earlier part of summer. More participation among merchants in dress-up week prior to the parade was also discussed as a way to generate more enthusiasm.