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25 Years Ago in the Week of Dec. 4, 1991

Courtesy of The Madera County Historical Society
Madera County’s new district attorney, Ernie LiCalsi, flashed a big smile 25 years ago when he learned that the board of supervisors had chosen him to fill the unexpired term of David Minier who had been elected to the Chowchilla Justice Court.


MADERAN SURVIVED PEARL HARBOR  —  “We were surprised and dumfounded,” Maderan Richard Joines said of his and his fellow shipmates’ reaction to the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At 7:55 a.m. Dec. 7, 1941, Seaman Second Class Richard Joines was down in the mess deck talking with some fellow seamen on the Aragonne, a transport ship, when two torpedoes hit the ship in the middle of its starboard side. “We went up topside and dove into the harbor and swam the 150 feet to shore,” he recalled. Fifty-nine members of the Aragonne’s crew didn’t make it. “They are still on her,” Joines said.


WOODS ASKING FOR A NEW TRIAL  —  Convicted murderer Edward Woods is asking for a new trial based upon an alleged violation of his constitutional right to counsel during his first trial. Woods claims that his attorney, public defender John Barker, did not investigate his case adequately. Barker defended Woods against charges of murdering an 18-year-old friend of his grandson on Christmas day 1989. Woods was convicted of shooting Brian White once in the neck while the youth was trying to set fire to one of Woods’ vehicles parked in the driveway. When the guilty verdict was rendered in 1990, Barker said he was “shocked” and vowed to have the verdict thrown out.


BOARD TABS LICALSI AS DA  —  Assistant District Attorney Ernest LiCalsi stepped out of the shadow of his former boss this morning to become the new county prosecutor. “I’m very happy and appreciative to the Board of Supervisors and Dave Minier,” said LiCalsi after being informed of the board’s unanimous vote this morning. Eleven people applied for the job, which opened when Minier resigned to take over as Chowchilla Justice Court judge. Members of the board noted they had been showered with letters of support for LiCalsi. LiCalsi will complete Minier’s unexpired term, which runs until 1994 at which time the office will be up for election.


CITY CHOOSES JORGENSEN AS TRANSPORTATION RAMROD  —  The long talked-about transportation ramrod became a reality at Madera City Hall Wednesday morning. Les Jorgensen, a recently retired 32-year veteran of the Fresno County transportation department, was hired to coordinate efforts between the city and Caltrans, Southern Pacific Railroad, and other agencies to clear up traffic messes at Cleveland/Gateway and other problem areas. Like being in the eye of a storm, Jorgensen will have to make sure all the city’s needs are addressed as soon as possible. “It won’t be done overnight; it takes time,” Jorgensen said.


WILSON PICKS MADERA PRISON AS WOMEN’S DEATH ROW SITE  —  Gov. Pete Wilson had made Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla Death Row for all females sentenced to capital punishment in California courts. Right now, there’s only one woman waiting for the sentence to be carried out. Maureen McDermott arrived at the prison May 9. She was given the death penalty for a first-degree murder conviction in Los Angeles County. “She’s kept in our security housing unit,” Public Information Officer Jacquelyn Powell said. Other inmates are in segregated housing. There is room in the prison for nine inmates on Death row, but so far McDermott is the only one incarcerated there, Powell said.

50 Years Ago in the Week of Dec. 4, 1966


MADERA GRAPPLERS DEFEAT TURLOCK IN FIRST OUTING  —  Madera High’s wrestling team won only two bouts by falls while losing five pins but managed to chalk up a 34-17 victory in the initial bout of the season against Turlock. Coach Al Kiddy had high praise for his athletes and pointed to several last period mistakes, which cost pins when the Coyotes were well on their way to decision victories. “This,” he said, “would be corrected by experience as the season progresses.” Scoring to two local pins were standouts Sammy King at 112 pounds and 120 pound Steve Whitehead.


DECENDENT OF EARLY-DAY FAMILY DIES  —  Marshall Llewellyn Hughes, descendent of an early-day family, which helped develop both Madera and Fresno counties, died suddenly Sunday night. Hughes, age 65, succumbed in a Madera hospital to a stroke. A life-long resident of Madera, he was associated with the Ford Motor garage and auto sales business for 43 years. His father was William M. Hughes, former county treasurer, who, with his father, Thomas E. Hughes, developed the Hughes addition, which included the sites of the Old Courthouse and the Madera High School. Thomas E. Hughes was known as the “Father of Fresno.”


CHRISTMAS PARTY COULD REACH 3,000 YOUNGSTERS  —  Madera’s first annual Christmas Party was originally planned for 500-800 elementary (and younger) school children. Now it looks like the figure may be closer to 3,000. The children will mob Hatfield Hall Dec. 16, according to Leon Foin, Madera’s building inspector, who will play master of ceremonies. Foin made a special request of Madera adults and teenagers, asking them please not to try to attend the party, as it is feared there may not be room enough for the younger children who are invited. Adults accompanying small children will be admitted, but if the numbers exceed the hall’s capacity, two performances may be necessary.


MADERA POPULATION REACHES 16,000  —  Madera has finally broken the 16,000 barrier, according to the State Department of Finance. The count is official as of Nov. 1, 1966. City Hall received the news by telephone from Sacramento Monday. In April of 1960, the population of Madera was 14,300. Two years later in 1964, the count had reached 15,250. Madera is now eligible for $18.000 a year in tax revenue. Another item connected to the population count is the decline in Madera’s vacancy rate. It has decreased from 7.3 percent in 1960 to 5.6 percent in 1966.


SONNY AND CHER REMOVED FROM PARADE FLOAT  —  Upset that folk-rock singers Sonny and Cher were photographed in Hollywood in a protest against police brutality, a majority of the city council of Monterey Park has voted to remove them from the city’s float in this year’s Rose Parade. The demonstration took place last Saturday night on the Sunset Strip. “I didn’t want this sort of image representing Monterey Park,” said councilman Rod Irvine. “I’m getting sick and tired of all this ‘police brutality’ stuff.” After Irvine’s motion passed on a 3-2 vote, the council hired someone it felt would better represent the city, cowboy singer Buck Owens.