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Years ago in Madera during the week of April 2

Monroe School spelling bee

Courtesy of The Madera County Historical Society

The agony of defeat — Pablo Jara covered his face in disgust 25 years ago after losing to Carlos Rodriguez Jr., in the Monroe School spelling bee. The first graders were battling it out for the top spot.


25 Years Ago Week of April 2, 1992

SCHOOL BOARD FINALLY GETS OFF THE FENCE — The new Madera High South Campus will be built with a fence around it. Trustees decided Tuesday afternoon to put the $43,000 project out to bid because the fence will keep MHS students on campus and those from other schools off the school grounds. Superintendent Tom Riley, who had been opposed to the fence, reluctantly gave his support to the fence. “Maybe the fence has a symbolic aspect to it (representing safety and order,)” he said. B.J. Robinson, who originally suggested the idea, once again renewed his support for the fence. Robert Garibay said he is less than excited about the cost.

BORDEN CEMETERY RECOGNIZED AS OFFICIAL HISTORICAL SITE — The forgotten Chinese pioneers of Madera are forgotten no longer. Students from James Monroe School made tribute to these people in a Ching Ming ceremony at the Borden Chinese Cemetery yesterday, and the old graveyard was officially designated as a historic site. The ceremony featured presentations by the students and included a visit from consul general of the Peoples Republic of China, Zheng Wanzhen, who explained that Ching Ming Day is a time to honor the Chinese who have passed away. He also praised the student’s research on Madera’s Chinese.

DEATH SENTENCE ENDS PHILLIPS MOONLIGHTING FROM JAIL — A&A Interpreting will have to find someone to replace Richard “Speed” Phillips as a secretary. After his second death sentence, Phillips is being returned to San Quentin. The “jail house lawyer” had been granted two telephones and a fax machine to use in his cell to prepare his defense. He used this equipment to answer a help wanted ad from A&A Interpreting and was hired without a face-to-face interview. He told the Fresno firm he was severely handicapped and could only work out of his home. The company was impressed with Phillips’ qualifications and hired him. His job was to take messages and make appointments for the company.

CITY COUNCIL SAYS NO TO PROPOSED APPEARANCE LAW — Efforts to create an ordinance that would require city approval for downtown businesses to change their look hit the ground with a resounding thud Monday. A 5-0 vote against the action by the Madera City Council followed testimony by downtown business owners who voiced their disapproval of the proposal. Public opposition was led by Dennis Chezick. Ron Howenstine, president of the Madera Downtown Association said his organization discussed the ordinance and also voted against it. Council members Margaret Medellin and John Wells agreed with Howinstine. Wells added, “It gives government a little more control over people’s lives, and I don’t think we need that.”

STATE PUTS VOCATIONAL ED IN JEOPARDY — If vocational education has an enemy, it’s state superintendent of pubic instruction Bill Honig. This was made clear in a meeting at Madera High held to give trustees and parents a chance to find out what’s happening with vocational education in the district. They found out the trouble is Honig’s mandate to emphasize academics. “Assembly bill 813 has basically devastated vocational education,” said MUSD superintendent Tom Riley. “Vocational education is hindered by two impressions, legitimate or not, that students in these programs lack motivation and have low-level achievements,” Riley stated.

50 Years Ago Week of April 2, 1967

GABBY’S ATTORNEY SEEKS NEW TRIAL — Gabby has a lawyer and may end up with a new trial or even a dismissal of the charges against him. Edward (Gabby) Bradburn was up for sentencing today after being convicted by a jury of maintaining a storage of junk on Highway 41. However, Fresno attorney A.A. George was in court to represent him. George requested and received a continuance until May 10. Outside court, George said two former Madera County Supervisors sat on the jury that convicted Gabby. “This is no way an attack on the veracity of former supervisors Phillip Eastman and C.C. Clark,” George said, “but there is a possibility that these two jurors may have influenced others on the jury.”

JOE GALLEANO OFF TO WASHINGTON — California’s Outstanding Young Farmer, Joe Galleano, left Madera for national honors competition this morning. He and his wife are to jet to Washington, then to Harrisburg, Virginia, where the nation’s four Young Farmers will be announced. Galleano is Madera’s first California winner, and by all reports his prospects are good for picking up one of the national honors for himself and his community. One example of what makes Galleano such a good farmer is the tomato harvest that awaits him on his return to Madera. Galleano’s crop has been ripening early in a plastic-enclosed, climate-controlled, half-acre hothouse.

ALAN C. BROWN NAMED CEMETERIAN OF YEAR — Alan C. Brown of Madera was named state “Cemeterian of the Year,” at a convention in Bakersfield this weekend. Brown, manager of the Madera Cemetery District, received the award during the Saturday night banquet highlighting a three-day session of the California Association of Public Cemeteries. The Maderan was selected for the honor on the basis of achievement in his profession, leadership in the state association, and service to his community. The convention attracted approximately 150 pubic cemetery managers , trustees, suppliers, and guests from Red Bluff to El Centro.

REV. CHESTER HILL SUMMONED BY DEATH — The Rev. Chester Hill, rector emeritus of Trinity Episcopal Church, died Sunday morning in a local hospital after suffering a sudden illness. Father Hill, age 78, retired in 1956 but had remained active in the affairs of the church and parish, which doubled in size under his ministry. Father Hill was noted among his parishioners as an accomplished organist, singer, and cook. The rector’s early background included service as a Catholic lay brother novice, a Methodist Church pastorate, and a succession of jobs ranging from construction project roustabout to silk maker. He came to Madera in 1942 after 12 years as a rector in Sonora.

WELL 14 ORDERED SHUT DOWN FOREVER — Madera’s off-again, on-again water well is off again, and probably will remain that way. Well 14, a dirty word for the 2,000 people on the west side of town who were struck by the diarrhea epidemic two years ago, will be capped by the city. Because of the location of the well, it supposedly was contaminated by sewage from the waste disposal system. Besides the diarrhea epidemic attributed to the well, the city now has a lawsuit pending against it resulting from a case of typhoid fever. The city contends that the diarrhea epidemic and the typhoid fever were never definitely connected to water from well 14.

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