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25 years ago in the week of July 31, 1991

Courtesy of The Madera County Historical Society 1991 Senior Farmer of the year George Andrew gets ready to be serenaded by his daughter, Janice Lowder, during the Madera District Chamber of Commerce award dinner 25 years ago. Janice sang an improvised version of “They Call the Wind Mariah.”


FOOD 4 LESS DOORS SWING OPEN FOR BUSINESS — For days, curious Madera residents have been tapping on the door of the 40,000 square foot Food 4 Less in northwest Madera, hoping to get an early peek at the discount food store’s wares. Joe Gong, owner of the discount grocery, was bustling about this morning making the final preparations before the 10 a.m. opening time. Gong has been in the grocery business for 20 years and operates four other markets in the Visalia area. In joining the stunning string of new businesses, Food 4 Less becomes the major anchor tenant in the Hallmark Town Center. More than a dozen retail businesses have chosen to locate in the Hallmark Town Center.

VIRDEN SAYS SUPPORT FOR COACHES MINIMAL — The first to take the blame in a loss and the last to get credit for a win might be the best way to describe the plight of a high school coach in Madera, according to head foot ball coach Bob Virden. “It is as if they are doing us a favor by letting us coach,” said Virden, speaking of the school and district administration. Virden said, “We don’t get very much for coaching, and we have to put in a tremendous amount of time during the summer and the season.” Virden says it is going to be tougher this year because he also has to teach five periods of math. “I have to decide whether to work on practice and game preparation during my prep or work on classroom work.”

ECUADORIAN WOMEN LEARN FARMING METHODS IN MADERA — Twenty-two Ecuadorian farmers and community leaders, who also happen to be women, were greeted by Madera Mayor Marge Medellin this morning as part of their five-week crash educational course in California. Through a University of California, Davis, program, the visitors are learning about agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley from Madera’s U.C. Cooperative Extension facility. The trip to the United States has presented a wealth of new experiences for the women, None speaks English and none had ever left Ecuador before. “I’ve learned so much, and I’m quite anxious to share this with my people,” said Theresa Choez, 28, through an interpreter.

SEARCH FOR MISSING MADERA MAN CALLED OFF — Fresno County Sheriff’s officials called off the search for Maderan Manuel Ramirez in the Cantua Creek-Three Rocks area yesterday after hours of intensive searching yielded no results. Ramirez had been horseback riding with about 20 others on the historic Murietta trail ride over the past weekend and was last seen leaving his campsite, saddle in hand, at 3 a.m. Sunday morning. The saddle was discovered at Three Rocks and returned to his family. The 190-pound Ramirez, who has a history of being easily disoriented, was last seen wearing Levis, a brown plaid shirt, a straw cowboy hat, and a belt with his name on it. He has brown eyes and short black and gray hair.

DRIGGS WON’T SEEK ANOTHER MUSD TERM — Two incumbents waited until the last minute to throw their hats into the ring for re-election to the Madera Unified School District Board of Trustees. According to the Madera County Elections Department, Benny Barsotti filed and T.R. (Gus) Gustaveson took out election papers Friday afternoon. Incumbent Bill Driggs, however, did not file election papers. Other candidates vying for the three open MUSD seats in the Nov. 5 election include Betty E. Finley, a homemaker; Patti Anderson, an office manager; Michael L. Mideiros, an architectural draftsperson; Dr. Aftab Naz, a physician; Michael Burns, a construction superintendent; Alfred “Buzz” Boberg, a farm equipment dealer; and David Austin, a school administrator. 50 Years Ago Week of July 31, 1966 CLASS OF ’41 HOLDS REUNION — The Madera Union High School class of 1941 held its 25th class reunion recently in Lucca’s Franciscan Room. Don Cobb acted as master of ceremonies. Special guests of the class included L.C. Thompson, former MHS principal, Mrs. Lois Chambers, and Mrs. Alvin Chester. Mrs. Emmett Purl, Jr. (Mary Leggett) was presented an orchid and named queen of the class of ’41 for her untiring efforts in planning the class reunions. Individual prizes were given in the following categories: Traveled longest distance, Mary Kobayashi; recent grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Elvin Davis; and baldest man, Paul Simonian.

CHAVEZ APPEARS AT FAIRGROUNDS — NTWA leader Cesar Chavez appeared unexpectedly Saturday at the Madera District Fairgrounds with 75 members of the National Farm workers Association. The Delano-bound caravan is carrying 13 tons of food and clothing to sustain the 11-month-old labor strike there. A huge semi-trailer truck hauling most of the supplies was furnished by the Teamster’s Local 185 of San Francisco. Chavez drove to Madera from San Francisco where he had been meeting with union officials. About 200 people attended the Saturday night fairgrounds rally, which featured speeches, skits, and folk songs.

MADERA WOMAN DIES IN FREAK ACCIDENT — Eloisa Barrientos, 21, died Sunday morning from shock and hemorrhage after a radiator fan flew off her brother’s car and severed an artery. Thomas Barrientos, 24, and Joaquin Arango were working on the voltage regulator of Barrientos’ car when Barrientos asked Arango to race the engine. As Miss Barrientos was watching, the fan blade flew off and struck her on the left side of the face cutting a main artery. The girl died on arrival at Madera County Hospital. She was a native of Texas and had lived in Madera for six years.

LIFE-LONG RESIDENT DIES IN SAN FRANCISCO — William Tune Jr., age 42, succumbed to a sudden brief illness in a San Francisco hospital Wednesday night. Tune was stricken Friday while vacationing at Fish Camp and was later transferred to San Francisco from Madera for tests to determine the nature of his illness. As a life-long resident, he attended local schools, grain farmed with his father, worked for the California Farm Bureau Marketing Association, and had been employed as a bookkeeper for TECO Products for more than 10 years. He was active in the Boots and Belles dancing club, of which he was past president.

COUNTY RNs CALL FOR SALARY HIKE — The Madera County Registered Nurses Association today called for salary increases, pointing to pay hikes in the Bay Area and elsewhere. The nurses say that Dearborn Hospital now pays $500 a month for beginning nurses and $515 for those with experience. After reading the letter from the nurses, Supervisor Jack Schmitz commented, “I think we have all been expecting this.” Schmitz said that Dearborn does not offer near the fringe benefits that the county does. Donald Handly, assistant county administrative officer said the county’s step salary system begins at $395 and has a top of $481 per month.

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