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Years ago in the week of Feb. 19

Courtesy of The Madera County Historical Society

Madera police officer Fabian Benabente joined a discussion 25 years ago on how to curb gang violence in Madera. Vice Principal Perry Harper looked on as Benabente offered solutions.


25 years ago in the week of Feb. 19, 1992 City council pushes for Schnoor Street bridge — Madera City Council members made it clear last night their first priority in traffic is the Schnoor Street bridge. The council made that clear to Traffic Coordinator Les Jorgensen. Pressure for the bridge began with Council Member John Wells, who said the bridge was needed, and it had been promised to the people. Council Member Margaret Medellin added if the effort did not begin soon, it would not get done. Council Member Patrick O’Rourke he, too, would like to see the Council make the bridge the number one priority. Previous plans had called for funds for the bridge to come from next year’s budget, but the council did not want to wait that long.

No alcohol on first day of Chili Cook-Off — The first day of this year’s Chili Cook-off will be a non-alcoholic day, according to Tom Musser, Madera District Fair manager, in his presentation to the board of directors last night. “It will be a little different from what we have done in the past,” Musser said. Two years ago a drunken brawl marred the final day, but problems were held to a minimum after Musser took over last year. The Chili Cook-off will be held April 11-12. A carnival will precede the event on April 9-10. Sunday, the second day of the Cook-off, will be a traditional day, although the large beer garden will be scaled down into two smaller gardens.

Council plans get-tough policy to get rid of weeds — Some residents of Madera can expect to get certified letters if their property has a weed or trash problem. The City Council is reacting to accusations from property owners last year who claimed they never heard from the city until they received a whopping bill for abating the problem. Coucil Member Margaret Medellin seemed to speak for the council recently, saying, “I never want to see that again.” The cost for the mailing will be added to the bills sent to those charged for the services, while the city will pick up the tab for those complying with the abatement demand. There are about 1,388 property and parcel owners in the city.

MUSD says it’s combating gang activity — Gang activity is being combated at Madera High, and programs are in place to point students in the right direction, Principal Beau Carter told members of a community gang task force Thursday. Carter said the administration isn’t “standing by while gang members wreak havoc.” Two years ago the task force, comprised of education, law enforcement, and business community groups, was formed to address the issue of gangs in Madera. Recent flare-ups at Madera High have hastened its reformation. Vice Principal Perry Harper noted the problems were racially motivated and not gang related.

Judge denies Phillips motion for new trial — Convicted murderer Richard “Speed” Phillips was dealt another blow by the judicial system today as visiting Madera County Judge William Harpham denied his motion for a new penalty-phase trial. Phillips was convicted 12 years ago in the slaying of Bruce Bartulis and attempted slaying of contractor Ron Rose. Phillips was convicted of shooting the two men and setting them afire. He was sentenced to death by a Madera County jury, but the penalty was overturned by the California Supreme Court in 1985. His penalty-phase retrial in November 1991 ended in a second capital punishment verdict.

50 years ago in the week of Feb. 19, 1967 City will get cable television — Cable television for the City of Madera apparently will be provided by Fresno Cable Television, Inc. The City Council heard final arguments from the Fresno company and G.E. Cablevision, the two companies still bidding for the city’s franchise. After hearing the presentations, the council chose Fresno Cable. The company guaranteed the city 13 channels of snow-free reception to subscribers. The monthly service charge is $4.50 per subscriber. Los Angeles and San Francisco television as well as the Fresno stations will be offered. The final vote was four to one, with Mayor D.R. Stephenson casting the only vote for the General Electric subsidiary.

Man vents anger on gum machine, will pay for it — In a world of rising tensions, the man on the street sometimes needs to vent his frustrations, and the easiest and safest way to do this is to pick some inanimate object. Manuel Rivira, 29, felt the need to break something yesterday and, displaying a good deal of foresight, chose a gumball machine in front of the Snowhite Bakery. When police officers arrived, Rivira was waiting. He said he needed to break something and chose the gumball machine instead of a window. The Madera Judicial Court ordered him to make restitution for the machine. Officers said Rivira had been drinking.

Convict from Madera foiled in escape try — A prisoner from Madera and a fellow convict were foiled in a Folsom Prison escape attempt Tuesday night. The Maderan, Richard Guyette, 30, and his accomplice were found hiding in a small compartment at the rear of the prison’s boiler room. They had been missing from their cells for 26 hours. The pair had no weapons and surrendered quietly. They had staved off hunger with candy bars during the period they were hidden. Guyette was imprisoned from Madera County for possession of a sawed-off shotgun. He was arrested two years ago along with two women after the trio had passed worthless checks in the area.

City’s coyote hunt runs into problems from citizen — The City Council decided Monday night to allow the Department of the Interior to trap coyotes living in culverts around the airport, but Floyd Steele decided that the city had no right to decide. Steele has leased the land around the airport from the city and said the city or no one else had hunting rights on the land that he has leased. City Attorney Axel Christiansen agreed with Steele, so the City Council has decided not to allow anyone to trespass to catch coyotes. Steele got up in a council meeting and said, “As far as the coyotes are concerned, I have less trouble from them than I do from a lot of humans.”

After years, city will get plane for display — After over four years of trying to cut through government red tape and competing with the Vietnam War, the Madera Lions Club appears to be winning the struggle to obtain a surplus airplane. City Administrator Phillip Brown said he has received word that a surplus T-33A Air Force jet training plane will be delivered to the city. What the city will do with the plane is another problem. “So far, the only thing we know is that it will be placed in Town and Country Park,” Brown said. “How it will be mounted and used is a question the city and the Lions Club will have to work out.”

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