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Years ago in Madera for the week of Sept. 10

Madera County Historical Society

The national champion pep and cheer squad from Madera High School received a special and unexpected treat 25 years ago during a summer camp in Santa Barbara. First Lady Barbara Bush was in town and saw the squad performing. She was so impressed she went out of her way to let them know it. With Mrs. Bush were Selina Brice, Heidi Seibert, Marisa Treach, Jenny Powell, and Allison Richardson.


25 Years Ago Week of Sept. 10, 1992

VENDOR IS EJECTED FROM FAIR FOR SELLING “MARIJUANA” BAGS — Madera District Fair Manager Thomas Musser ejected a vendor at the fairgrounds Wednesday for selling burlap bags with an allegedly offensive word printed on the side. Michael Washburn had spent $370 to rent a booth at the fair and had begun selling bags painted with various logos relating to marijuana. Washburn had sold 20 to 30 of the bags and had experienced no problems. However Musser had a problem. “We’re working hard to make this a family fair,” Musser said, “We don’t allow references to drugs on T-shirts or belt buckles either.” Washburn said Musser did not object to words like cannabis or sensimilla.

PLAN MAY FREE FUNDS FOR NEW MADERA PRISON — The long-running battle over a plan to build a state prison near downtown Los Angeles may be coming to an end, and it may result in the construction of the Central California Women’s Facility No. 2 near Chowchilla. The funds for the Southern California facility may be earmarked instead for a 1,984-bed women’s prison near Chowchilla, which would be a near copy of the first women’s prison built there in the late 1980s. The construction cost would be $146 million. Land has already been purchased and the environmental impact report has been completed. A bill approving construction of Madera County’s second prison has been passed by the Assembly and the Senate.

KIDNAPPING SUSPECTS PLEAD NOT GUILTY — The accused kidnappers of 16-month-old Rachel Avila pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping and burglary at their continued arraignment at the Borden Justice Court this morning. Ruben Cruz Martinez, 21, and Juventino Hernandez, 20, are accused of kidnapping the girl after bursting into the Avila home with guns in the Country Club area. The situation escalated when a deal to return the child turned into a gun battle that killed a third kidnapping suspect and wounded a deputy in an orchard west of Madera. The suspects were arrested in San Diego and returned to Madera on Aug. 27.

STUDENTS DOUBT TEACHERS CARE — Last spring’s accreditation report for Madera High School pointed out that some students feel teachers and administrators don’t care about them. The problem was one of 14 issues that will be addressed by Principal Beau Carter as he deals with the two-year accreditation earned by Madera High. Carter told the board of trustees that several changes in personnel have been made to place an emphasis on concern for students and parents. The accreditation committee also noted some students feel unsafe on campus. Carter said that both high school campuses have been closed and two lunch hours instituted to reduce the crowdedness at meal times.

ALVIDREZ MAKING ANOTHER RUN AT COUNCIL — Celebrating his 20th year at running for political office, Rudy Alvidrez is once again taking aim at a seat on the Madera City Council. “I am not running against any individual,” Alvidrez said, I am running to set new ideas and policies into motion. Alvidrez said people are frustrated and tired of paying taxes. He said he wants to see that they get their money’s worth with improved streets, sewers and water. Alvidrez also wants to work on the look of downtown Madera. He would like to see it return to the way it was in the 1950s and 1960s when “there was spirit here.” Alvidrez says his supporters have nicknamed him “Die Hard” because he does not give up.

50 Years Ago Week of Sept. 10, 1967

SCHOOL DISTRICT MUST ANSWER IN COURT — Trustees of the Madera Unified School District and their superintendent will be in the Madera County Superior Court of Judge Jack Hammerburg on Oct. 6 to explain why schools were closed this week. The suit was brought by the California Rural Legal Assistance Office on behalf of low-income Mexican-American families whose children have been affected. The CRLA insists that the California Education Code does not authorize the closing of schools so that students can work in the fields. The students and their parents allege that the economic interest of growers should not determine whether the schools should be open or closed.

DR. BICK ACTING HEALTH OFFICER — Dr. Jack Bick was appointed acting county health officer Tuesday in the place of Dr. Claud Stafford who is recuperating from surgery. The appointment carried no conditions or time limits as first suggested by board members on the insistence of Jack Schmitz that specifications about the interim period are “just a bunch of hokey pokey. He will serve at our pleasure. When we want to make a change, we’ll make one. The doctor is good enough to volunteer, and he doesn’t want the job,” said Schmitz. L.C. Thompson, who remarked, “He might change his mind,” voted against the appointment. Supervisor Balmat asked whether or not a veterinarian could serve in the position. He was told that a vet would not do.

BANK ENTERS NEGOTIATIONS ON OLD HOTEL — United California Bank announced today that 
negotiations are underway for the purchase of the Aragon Hotel at Yosemite Avenue and North C Street. While timing is indefinite, it is expected that the site of the hotel will be used for a new bank building. Owners of the Aragon, a three-story landmark, are William Seabury and John Copeland. The hotel has a 77-foot frontage on Yosemite Avenue and 150 on C Street. The hotel, now used for both permanent residents and over-nighters, was constructed in 1932 on the site of the former Alta Hotel, which was destroyed in a spectacular fire.

MADERA HELICOPTER PILOT HONORED FOR VIETNAM HEROISM — Capt. John A. Little was recently awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Air Medal for Valor, and the 41st oak leaf cluster to the Air Medal for heroism in combat operations in Vietnam. Capt. Little was presented the awards by Brig. General Frank Mezar in a ceremony at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. Little, an armed helicopter pilot, flew over 900 combat sorties. Hewas wounded by enemy ground fire twice (on different missions) and shot down twice. He commanded an armed helicopter platoon in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. Little is due to be promoted to Major near the end of the year.

HUGE LOSS AT BERENDA TRACTOR COMPANY — The Berenda Tractor Company at Highway 99 and Road 21 lost over $35,000 worth of vehicles when thieves cut a 20-foot hole in the chain link fence surrounding the company’s storage yard. The suspects got away with two tractors, a truck and flatbed trailer and a pickup truck. The two tractors were apparently loaded on the flatbed trailer, and the pickup followed the loaded truck out of the compound through the hole in the fence. The missing vehicles are a 1964 GMC two-ton truck with a low bed trailer, two John Deere tractors, and a 1963 Chevrolet pickup truck.

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