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Years ago in the week of March 12

Madera Tribune File Photo

25 years ago, Washington School second grade teacher Frances Brown wished her student, Michael Wall, a “top o’ the morning” for St. Patrick’s Day.


25 Years Ago Week of March 12, 1992

THORNTON, ROACH TO HEAD PLANNING COMMISSION — The Madera Planning Commission voted in Ross Thornton as its Chairperson for the next year, while giving the nod to Barbara Roach as the Chairperson Pro-Tem during Tuesday’s meeting. Thornton takes over from last year’s Chairperson Herbert McClure who will continue on the commission. Thornton was named to the commission by a city council vote in 1991 and is now in his second year as a commissioner. Roach, who has served on the commission since 1990, started by filling an interim term and was given a full term in 1991. She will replace the recently resigned Chairperson Pro-tem Verdell McKelvey.

YOUNG SCIENTISTS WORKED OUT THE BUGS — Madera Unified Assistant Superintendent John Cruz, while serving as a judge in La Vina School’s Science Fair, learned how Freddy Cabral made the wrong choice in predicting the winner of a race between a cockroach and a cricket. The eighth grader told Cruz how he figured the cricket would easily outdistance the cockroach through a maze Cabral had constructed. “It didn’t turn out that way,” said Cabral, “The cockroach ran, but the cricket was scared. Cabral’s project was one of 123 entries in the science fair, which was coordinated by teacher Lucretia McGugin.

PHILLIPS SENTENCED TO DEATH AGAIN — Richard “Speed” Phillips was sentenced to death Friday in Superior Court by Judge William Harpham. Phillips had been charged with the December 1977 murder of Bruce Bartulis on the outskirts of Chowchilla. He was convicted in 1980; however, legal maneuvering forced a retrial in 1991, in which he was again found guilty and given the death penalty by the jury. Phillips will be transported to San Quentin to await the automatic appeal under state law. Madera County District Attorney Ernie LiCalsi, who took over the case from former District Attorney Dave Minier, admits that Phillips is years away from being executed.

PAWN SHOP OWNERS CLAIM BUM RAP — Becki Martin and Vince Rodriguez are tired of having their business considered a sleazy place to trade. Martin and Rodriguez are co-owners of Express Cash and Loan, Madera’s only surviving pawnshop, and believe the public needs to be reeducated on their business. “I’ll be out and people will ask me what I do for a living, and I’ll say, ‘I’m a pawnbroker.’ Their faces just droop, and their look is like, ‘Oh, you’re a crook,’” said Martin. She insists, however that the days of stolen merchandise and seedy locations are gone. So are the days of shoddy goods and mom and pop ventures. Major corporations are beginning to move in, Martin says.

PERLONGO CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF BAKING IN MADERA — To Sal Perlongo, baking is as much an art as painting and music composition. Perhaps that’s why Madera residents have rewarded him with 25 years of loyal business. Perlongo Bakery, the one constant in an ever-changing number of stores in Bethard Square, is celebrating its 25th anniversary in November. Perlongo opened his bakery on November 29, 1967. Perlongo is a member of the “old school” of bakers who believes quality, not quantity, is the key to commercial success. “There’s always a demand for a bakery like this. If you really commit to being a baker, you’ll never be out of a job,” says Perlongo.

50 Years Ago Week of March 12, 1967

SHERIFF SEEKS CUSTOMER WITH COINS — The Madera County Sheriff’s Office this morning asked local businessmen to be on the lookout for a customer who pays with a large number of coins. Sheriff Marlin Young said the Winery Corner, a bar and grocery store on Avenue 24, was burglarized early this morning. The Sheriff quoted Tilo Bomprezzi, proprietor of the store, as losing a total of $233. Sheriff Young said $35 in bills was taken, $100 in 50 cent pieces, $75 dollars in quarters, and $25 dollars in dimes, according to Bomprezzi. Investigating officers said a padlock was pried off the front door of the store.

COMPROMISE ENDS QUARREL OVER SCHOOL OPENING — A Thursday, Sept. 14 school opening date—a compromise choice--was set in Thursday night’s Madera Unified School District School Board meeting. Trustees voted unanimously on the mid-week date proposed by Buck Melikian to “give three days to the farmers and two days to the school district.” The compromise was pushed through after failure of a motion for a Sept. 18 opening sought by grape growers. The vote was 4-3. The later date was supported by Melikian, Wayne Fulton, and John Sordi.

COUNCIL VOTES AGAINST THE CROWD ON DOG LEASH LAW — The City Council last night took a mandate from the people and threw it back in their faces. Over 60 people showed up at a public hearing on the dog leash ordinance, and by a show of hands favored the proposal 26-17. When the council voted, however, the only members who were with the majority were Bruno Lattanzio and John Wells. When the council split its vote, 2-2, Mayor D. R. Stephenson cast the decided vote against the measure. City Administrator Phillip Brown said the staff recommendation to the council was in favor of the ordinance.

OLD WEST IN CHOWCHILLA — Robertson Boulevard looked like the main street of Dodge City this morning when 350 Mexican Corriente longhorn steers were herded though the business district. Cowboys and cowgirls herded the steers on the way to the Fair Grounds arena where three days of rodeo events are planned for the weekend. Cowgirl barrel racers preceded the trail herd down the boulevard, which was lined on both sides with spectators. The 10th annual Chowchilla Western Stampede, which gets underway Friday at noon, is the largest in the event’s history. Cowboys from all the western states have entered the event.

OLD LA VINA SCHOOL POSES DANGER — The old La Vina School building southwest of town is open, unboarded, and poses a danger to the area. The windows are all broken, and jagged pieces of glass are hanging, waiting to fall at the slightest disturbance. The old building was sold by the school district in 1959 with the understanding that it was to be converted into a convalescent hospital. To date, however, nothing has been done with the building, and if something is not done soon, a serious accident may occur or, at best, the building may burn to the ground from a fire started in one of the rooms by transients using it as a place to sleep.

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