Madera County Historical Society
Twenty-five years ago, Grady Billington celebrated his retirement from Madera Unified at a fiesta held in his honor. He is seen here with Cecilia Rios after she asked him to join her in a traditional Mexican dance.
25 Years Ago
Week of June 25, 1992
POLICE BLAMED FOR NOT STOPPING GANG FIGHT — An apartment complex manager has charged the Madera Police Department with not doing its duty in a gang fight at 117 South K Street. Capt. Charles Dickison said that officers responded to an “unknown problem” call, and when they arrived, they heard glass breaking and saw two suspects fleeing the scene. Witnesses told police the trouble began when four or five individuals showed up at one of the apartments armed with a shotgun and bats and began smashing windows. Officers were able to arrest Gerardo Hernandez and Jose Luis Garcia and charge them with threatening with a weapon and vandalism.
STRIKE SHUTS DOWN AMTRAK AND FREIGHT LINES — A nationwide rail strike has affected some carriers in the San Joaquin Valley, but others remained unaffected. A spokesman for Amtrak’s regional office said it is selling tickets “for anywhere in the future; We’re just kind of in limbo right now.” The Madera Greyhound Trailways office has been getting calls for reservations, but the bus company does not make reservations. Callers have been told to come to the office and pick up their tickets, said ticket clerk Janie Martinex. Karen Griffin, owner of Madera Travel said, “It’s too bad it had to happen. We have people who have changed the dates of their trips. It’s a major catastrophe with a domino effect.”
PAK ‘N SAVE FOOD STORE OPENS IN MADERA — Madera’s newest and largest supermarket—Pak ‘N Save Foods — is now open at 2237 W. Cleveland Ave. The store, which opened at 8 a.m. today, will be open 24 hours a day. The store is a wholly owned subsidiary of Safeway, Inc., combining warehouse pricing with in-depth specialty departments. Frank Burger, vice president of Pak ‘N Save Foods said the opening of the new store will create 125 new jobs for Madera and the surrounding area. Madera’s management team is led by Rick Bandy, a seven-year veteran with Pak ‘N Save Foods.
COUNTY WILL HELP IN SEARCH FOR OAKHURST BOY — Sheriff Glenn Seymour is sending a search and rescue team to Alpine County to help look for a 12-year-old, mentally handicapped Oakhurst boy who became separated from his parents in the woods near Carson Pass. Alpine County officials said the boy has the mental and emotional level of a 4-year-old. The boy was playing in a creek when his parents, Bob and Sharon Miller, walked away to look at a cabin just off the trail. When they returned, their son could not be found. The boy’s mother said, although her son has been camping and hiking before, she isn’t sure how he would react to being lost in the rugged, storm-swept Sierra.
SNOW, WIND HOLD UP SEARCH FOR LOST OAKHURST BOY — Snow and cold winds hampered the continuing search for a 12-year-old boy who has been missing for a week in the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe. More than 250 searchers and tracking dogs tried to find Kenny Miller yesterday, but wind-driven snow, now down to 8,500 feet, made their work difficult. Searchers are hoping for better weather today. Alpine County officials say the effort will continue day by day with searchers sweeping back towards Woods Lake, where Miller was first lost. No decision has been made as to when the search will end. Miller is from Oakhurst.
50 Years Ago
Week of June 25, 1967
ANCIENT STAGECOACH ROLLS TO BANK OPENING — True to its reputation as one of the West’s earliest dealers in commerce, the Madera branch of the Wells Fargo bank opened Saturday in a ceremony which saw the key delivered by the Ben Holliday, an authentic, century old Wells Fargo stagecoach. Aboard the coach were a number of city and county dignitaries and up top was Mayor D.R. (Bud) Stephenson riding shotgun guard. Stephenson presented the strongbox containing the official key, which Manager Loren Rigby used to officially open the bank for business. County Supervisor L.C. Thompson was also aboard the stage dressed in striped trousers, a cut-away jacket, and beaver hat.
MADERA SAILOR WINS VIETNAM’S MEDAL OF HONOR — On June 19, Second Class Hospital Corpsman Leonard F. Martin of Madera was awarded the Vietnamese Medal of Honor. The ceremony was held at the Hoa Vang sub-sector headquarters near DaNang and attended by over 1,000 Vietnamese soldiers. Martin was cited for bravery for his outstanding performance of duty after an aircraft crashed into a village near the end of the DaNang air base runway. The citation says the effort put forth by Martin contributed greatly in assisting the 54 families left homeless by the crash.
BERGON SLAPS ‘HYPHENATED’ AMERICANS — Frank Bergon, chairman of the Overall Economic Development Plan Committee, filed the group’s 1967 report Tuesday with a slap at “hyphenated Americans.” Bergon suggested that the Board of Supervisors is under pressure from minority groups in appointments to his committee. Apparently referring to appointments sought by Mexican-Americans, Bergon commented, “We are proud of our national origins, ethnic backgrounds, and religious affiliations, but there comes a time when we must remove the hyphen.” He added, “It is not fair to appoint an individual based on his color or national origin.”
COUNTY BOARD RELUCTANTLY APPROVES SCHOOL LOAN — A $20,000 loan was reluctantly approved Tuesday for the Chowchilla Union High School District. The approval carried with it a strong admonition for the CUHS trustees. The resolution by the Madera County Board of Education commented that it does not condone the omissions or the commissions by the CUHS administration, which brought on the financial crisis. It also urges the CUHS board to take steps to ensure solvency from now on. The county board said it made the loan to protect employees and vendors from injury.
LA VINA RESIDENTS STORM SCHOOL BOARD MEETING — The La Vina principalship caused a hot meeting of the Madera Unified Board of Trustees Thursday night. More than 50 La Vina area residents appeared to press their case for naming teacher Virginia Bigger as the school’s new principal instead of Bill York. Coming under heavy fire was district superintendent Duane Furman whom Bert Smith called “a liar.” Mits Aoki, leader of the dissidents said he feels Furman broke faith with the La Vina group. William Jamfrey called Furman “a czar — a little tin god,” and shouted, “something sinister is going on here.” John Sordi, who resigned his position on the board, was shouted down when he urged everyone to work together to reach accord.