Madera County Historical Society
Twenty-five years ago, Ed Gwartney drove the lead wagon into Courthouse Park to end a 26-day journey in mule-drawn wagons for a group of Monroe School 6th graders. The modern-day pioneers followed a 49ers trail across Arizona to Madera. Gwartney’s 4th grade class built the wagons, which carried the 6th graders.
25 Years Ago
Week of Jan. 28, 1993
MONROE PIONEERS REACH END OF THE TRAIL — The end of the long, dusty trail has finally come. Monroe School’s 49ers received a richly deserved hero’s welcome when they rolled into town early Thursday afternoon. In a city known for its parades on main street, this one ranked up with the best of them. There wasn’t any way to keep the tears and shouts of joy inside. The 10 sixth graders and their adult fellow travelers have been on the trail for 26 days in mule-drawn covered wagons following the 49ers route from Nogales, Arizona, to Madera. When they arrived at the courthouse steps, they were greeted with cake, pizza, and ecstatic parents and guardians. Madera County Superintendent of Schools Sally Frazier said the trip will be a lasting memory.
CLINTON’S INAUGURATION WAS ‘AWE-INSPIRING’ — For Madera County’s Democratic Central Committee Chair, Lee Chavin and his wife, Carole, the inauguration of Bill Clinton as president of the United States was “awe-inspiring.” “Everyone at the inauguration was happy and polite,” Chavin said. The Chavins also attended one of the inaugural balls and saw Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, who were “fantastic.” And Little Richard, “He played rock ‘n roll like you’ve never heard.” But the highlight was when “Bill and Hillary showed up at 10:30. Bill looked great, and I’ve never seen her look prettier. She just had that proud look like: this is really where it’s at,” Chavin said.
MHS STUDENT COUNCIL SUPPORTS PRINCIPALS — The student council at Madera High voiced its collective support for Principal Beau Carter and Vice Principal Perry Harper at a news conference in front of the north campus this morning. The two men have been placed on administrative leave while an outside auditor examines student body accounts. Student Body President Robby Huntley read a prepared statement to the assembled group. Speaking of Carter and Harper, Huntley said, “They serve as our role models and are the backbone of Madera High School. We feel we are unable to work effectively without our principal and vice principal back where they belong.”
REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY ASKED TO BUY THEATER — The Madera Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors will be asked Monday night to consider acquiring the old Madera Theater building. The meeting will start at 6:30 at City Hall. The request is being made by the Madera Downtown Association, which has been informed by Barry Hartsfield, president of the Star Plex Theater, which currently owns the building, that his firm has no intention of renovating the theater. Hartsfield informed the MDA that the Madera Theater is for sale with a listed price of $1.2 million. MDA executive director Ron Howenstine, wrote in a letter to Leona James, MRA executive director, “The inclusion of the downtown theater in the general plan of redevelopment is essential.”
UTILITY TAX MAY INCLUDE TELEPHONES — A proposed flat rate utility tax for county residents, designed to stave off a looming $3 million shortfall in the county’s general fund, may now be scuttled in favor of a percentage basis, which proponents say would be easier to implement. The Board of Supervisors Tuesday will consider the modified plan, presented by Administrator Stell Manfredi, which calls for telephone usage to be taxed in addition to electric bills. If enacted, the new fees would be implemented no later than May 1, raising an estimated $2.6 million within the first year. The plan does not affect residents in the cities of Chowchilla or Madera.
50 Years Ago
Week of Jan. 28, 1968
MHS SENIORS PROTEST NEW DATE FOR ANNUAL ‘SNEAK’ — Some 325 out of 434 members of the senior class of Madera High School have signed a petition protesting the date for the annual “Senior Sneak Day.” The petition reads: We the undersigned are willing to give up Feb. 5 as our Senior Sneak Day designated by the administration on the grounds that it was not assigned with proper consideration of the seniors. We are led to this action because of the short notice given, the inconvenience caused by the proposed date, and violation of our senior tradition. The original date was Feb. 27. The seniors stated that many had made reservations for that date at ski and other resort areas.
WOMAN ‘SADISTICALLY’ SHOT NEAR COARSEGOLD — The body of a 26-year-old woman was found “sadistically” murdered on Road 403 at the entrance to the E.M. Shaubach Ranch this morning. The victim had been shot six times with a .45 caliber pistol. The scene is about 12 miles south of Coarsegold. The body was discovered by Mrs. Shaubach. The woman was wearing a yellow sweater, gray jeans and tennis shoes. She was shot at least twice in the head. Sheriff’s deputies said the murderer emptied all of the bullets in the pistol into the woman. Powder burns were visible on the front of her sweater, indicating the woman had been shot at close range.
KAHN AND GILL TAKE OUT PAPERS TO RUN FOR MADERA COUNCIL — Robert Kahn, partner in the Firestone dealership, and Kenneth Gill, TECO co-owner, took out papers Wednesday for the City Council. Kahn is the current chairman of the City Planning Commission, on which he has served for four years. Madera’s Firestone dealership was established by Kahn 11 years ago. Gill has served on the City Planning Commission for the past eight years. He is a past president of Toastmasters Club, a 10-year member of Rotary Club, lay reader and vestryman of Trinity Episcopal Church, and a member of the Madera High School Board prior to unification.
‘RECALL SCH-MITZ’ GROUP RENTS MADERA OFFICE SPACE — The group proposing to recall Supervisor Jack Schmitz has leased office space in downtown Madera. The former Larry’s Bar location in the Mah building on West Yosemite Avenue has been rented to Donald Wallis of Coarsegold for four months, the owner confirmed today. The group has been obtaining first district voter lists and precinct information from the County Clerk’s Office with the reported intention of placing a recall measure on the June primary election ballot. A candidate must be proposed to take the supervisor’s seat should the recall succeed. Voting will be in District 1 only.
FUNERAL SERVICES FOR RALPH SPOTTS TOMORROW — Christian Science services will be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Madera Funeral Home for Ralph H. Spotts, Jr., county administrator for the last 11 years, who Monday afternoon was found dead in his home of an apparent self-inflected gunshot wound. His body was found in the bathroom of his residence by his wife after she returned from a short trip downtown. He had been shot in the forehead; a 22 caliber automatic pistol lay nearby. Police said Spotts, 51, had been despondent over ill health for the past week. He returned to work several months ago after a leave of absence due to ill health.