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Years ago in Madera for the week of Sept. 3

Madera County Historical Society

Madera’s April Lee, player of the year in 1991, got some early practice 25 years ago in the Coyote gym. Lee and the rest of the team began the 1992 season by hosting the Madera Invitational on Sept. 27.


25 Years Ago Week of Sept. 3, 1992

TWO KILLED IN CRASH WITH TOMATO TRUCK EARLY TODAY — Two unidentified men were killed in an early-morning crash that spilled fuel and tomatoes in the roadway and closed Highway 145 for three hours. The two men had been westbound on Avenue 12 and ran the stop sign at Highway 145, broadsiding a big rig truck, which was pulling two trailers filled with tomatoes. The crash overturned the truck and its trailers spilling all the tomatoes and rupturing the gas tank, leaking 150 gallons of fuel onto the roadway. The highway was closed from 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. during the cleanup. The driver of the big rig was Santiago Aranjo, 41. His passenger was 11-year-old Jaime Ayala. Both only received minor injuries.

MUSD PRE-EMPLOYMENT DRUG TESTING RAISES CONCERNS — Madera Unified trustees have adopted drug testing and pre-employment physicals that have caused concern among classified and certificated employee groups. In describing the new procedures, Dr. Theodore Johnstone said considerable steps are taken to keep employees from pre-empting drug screening. The prospective employee must strip in the presence of an attendant of the same sex, then wash their hands as the attendant watches. To avoid tampering, the water has been colored blue. The soap is then removed, and the person is left alone to produce a urine sample. After the attendant leaves, the bathroom door is locked and the water shut off.

POLACEK SEES DIVERSE AFRICA — A Madera County woman spent a week in Africa this month helping fight hunger in a drought-stricken country. After visiting several project sites in Kenya, Kelly Polacek came to the conclusion that although there is a lot of despair in Africa, there’s also a lot of progress being made. The commercials on television which portray Africa as a continent full of hungry people are misleading, she said. There is great diversity, ranging from healthy and well-off groups to poor and hungry. “However, the commercials that ask for daily donations that equal a cup of coffee don’t do justice to the situation some children find themselves in,” she said. “The worst poverty is in the city slums.”

WARBIRDS CALLED BIGGEST SHOW EVER — The only thing hotter than the 107 and 109 degree temperatures this weekend was the annual Gathering of the Warbirds at the Madera Municipal Airport. According to its organizer, Jim Estep, it was the biggest Gathering of the Warbirds ever, drawing more than 16,000 for the weekend. The big draws, according to Flight Operations Director Marie Koukal, were the B-17 and the MiG-17. The B-17 did several flybys but also functioned as a museum allowing kids to go through the interior. There were also stunt planes leaving figure-8 smoke trails and parachutists performing to round out the show.

24-HOUR-A-DAY CARD PLAYING IS OK’D ON 3-2 VOTE — The Madera City Council agreed by a narrow margin Monday to allow 24-hour-a-day card playing at the Winner’s Circle on Gateway Drive. The 3-2 vote, with Council Members Patrick O’Rourke and Marc Scalzo dissenting, will give the card room a three-month trial. Scalzo said card rooms were not needed in future development in Madera, and by granting this one, it sets a precedent. O’Rourke agreed saying, “the council can’t grant Barrera (Ron Barrera, the owner of the Winner’s Circle) an exclusive. The feeling I get from this community is it doesn’t want cardrooms.”

50 Years Ago Week of Sept. 3, 1967

GROVERS SURPRISED ON 25TH — Close relatives and friends surprised the Sanford Grovers recently on their 25th wedding anniversary. The Grovers’ daughter Susan and sons Doug and Don arranged the reception for their parents at the Grovers’ home. The former Jane Desmond, a graduate of Madera High School met her husband when both were students at San Jose State College. At the time of their marriage, Grover was in Officers Training School, so the wedding took place in Nashville, Tennessee. Following service in World War II, Grover received his Master’s Degree at Stanford University and took charge of Auxiliary Services at Madera High. He is now a counselor at Fresno City College.

LEGAL AID GROUP BLOCKS BRACEROS — The emergency importation of 8,100 Mexican braceros to help harvest California’s big tomato crop has been stalled by a ruling from U.S. District Judge Stanley A. Weigel, who issued a restraining order against Labor Secretary W. Willard Wirtz who authorized the importation. California Rural Legal Assistance had sought the injunction on the grounds the Braceros would eventually displace domestic field hands. The CRLA also said growers were paying below the $1.65 minimum set by Wirtz. The Farm Bureau Federation said the tomato crop situation is critical. “Unseasonable weather and a late crop has meant that many growers can’t catch up,” said Bureau officials.

MAPA WANTS ACTION GROUP CHAIRMAN TO QUIT — The Mexican-American Political Action Association has called for the resignation of George Mochizuki from chairmanship of the Madera County Action Committee. The MAPA statement charges that Mochizuki cannot represent the interests of the poor because of “conditions” at his camp. The letter also suggests the Madera County Health Department be investigated for letting conditions such as “bad sewage and housing sanitation exist at Mochizuki’s rentals. Mochiziuki acknowledged he has sewage and sanitation problems at the 21 housing units he rents and said, “You can’t do much for the $20 per month rental charged for the rentals.”

LOCAL GRAPE GROWERS ASK SCHOOLS TO CLOSE ONE WEEK — As some 7,750 elementary and high school students prepare to begin school throughout Madera Unified School District, grape growers are putting together plans to request the closing of schools until Sept. 25. Farmers have scheduled a meeting at the Farm Bureau Office to prepare a resolution requesting the shutdown to allow students to help harvest the crop. Farm officials say that grape growers are feeling the pinch because for some reason workers are avoiding Madera this year. Most of the farm laborers who have bypassed Madera are now working in the northern part of the state.

TWO MADERANS DIE IN ROAD MISHAPS — The City of Madera had its first traffic fatality of the year Friday when Bobby Gene Whittaker, 40, died under the wheels of a car at the Cleveland Avenue-Gateway Drive intersection. Whittaker, driving a motorcycle, apparently made a left turn in front of a car driven by Heriberto Edwardo Palma, 31, of Merced. Another Maderan, Bruce Mariani, 27, died early this morning on Hwy. 152. Mariani apparently fell asleep at the wheel of his eastbound sports car. The car went into a broadside skid, failed to make a curve, and ran off the road down an embankment. Mariani was dead on arrival at a Los Banos Hospital.

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