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A New Year's Review: History in Madera

Madera County Historical Society

City Manager Nick Pavlovich’s political problems dominated the local news 25 years ago.



CITY TAKES OVER GOLF COURSE — The Madera City Council voted by a narrow 3-2 margin to break its contract with GolfCorp for the operation of the Madera Municipal Golf Course Monday night. Now the question is, what to do about an almost $40,000 in missing cash, checks, and credit card receipts at the course. An audit by Finance Director Sami Nassar showed that the missing funds had not been accounted for in bank statements. Nassar reported there were numerous dates, beginning in August, where the daily sales reports were not reflected in the bank statements. According to Nassar, GolfCorp has filed a report with the Madera Police Department. Mayor Bill Weber and Council member Pat O’Rourke voted against the action, and Council Members Margaret Medellin, Marc Scalzo, and John Wells voted for it.

PAVLOVICH SURVIVES FIRING ATTEMPT — Madera City Manager Nick Pavlovich barely survived an attempt to oust him at Monday’s City Council meeting. Following a closed door session, the council voted 3-2 against the proposal by Council Member Margaret Medellin to fire Pavolvich. Medellin initiated the move, saying she had made a point of discrimination and dishonesty in all of her years on the council, but “I’ve never had to fight so hard as this year or two against a dictatorship.” Councilmember John Wells immediately seconded her motion. Council Member Patrick O’Rourke defended the city manager and was joined by Council Member Marc Scalzo and Mayor William Weber.

IS CITY MANAGER NICK PAVLOVICH ON WAY OUT? — Will Nick Pavlovich, Madera’s City Manager, be asked by the City Council to resign at Monday night’s meeting, or will he say, “enough is enough,” and tender his resignation first? It is not known whether either step will be taken, but it is known that Pavlovich’s performance as city manager will be discussed by the council. Rumors have been abundant about Pavlovich’s departure since the release of the golf course audit. In early May, Pavlovich survived at attempt by Council Members Margaret Medellin and John Wells to remove him. Council Member Marc Scalzo, who supported Pavlovich in May, said recently, “I think Nick’s done a good job for the city, but changes need to be made.”

COUNCIL MAJORITY REAFFIRMS SUPPORT OF CITY MANAGER — The Madera City Council anchored its Saturday brainstorming session by reaffirming the solid ground the city manager is operating on. Council Members Patrick O’Rourke, Marc Scalzo, and Mayor William Weber met with department heads from every corner of the city to discuss the city’s future and praised their efforts. Of the overall staff, O’Rourke said, “If a chain is as strong as its weakest link, I think this is the strongest chain we have had.” Scalzo added his total confidence in City Manager Nick Pavlovich, and Mayor Weber said, “I see good things coming.” Council Members John Wells and Margaret Medellin, who recently asked for Pavlovich’s resignation, were absent.

PAVLOVICH RESIGNS AS CITY MANAGER — Amid controversy over the Municipal Golf Course, Madera City Manager Nick Pavlovich announced his resignation during the City Council meeting Monday night. The resignation takes effect on April 2, 1993, but he will leave office on December 31, 1992. Between those dates Pavlovich will be on a paid leave of absence. The vote on Pavlovich’s resignation was unanimous, but Mayor William Weber expressed remorse when he announced the action. “Thank you, Nick, I’m sorry,” he said. Pavlovich commented, “I will leave my office with a very deep feeling of pride and accomplishment.”

MUSD 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.

RACIAL TENSIONS HIGH AT MADERA HIGH — A 17-year-old Madera High School student and an 18-year-old Fresnan were arrested at Madera High School, capping several days of racial unrest at MHS. Officer Fabian Benabente, assigned to the school system, said there have been the normal number of fights this year, but this is the first time it has gotten out of hand. Benabente said the school investigation is continuing and more suspensions and expulsions could come from it. He said he wanted to put a stop to rumors that only one race was being targeted. In the last two days, there have been six arrests. Three are white and three are Hispanic, Benabente said. “Most of the troublemakers are from other schools.”

MHS ADMINISTRATION TO TACKLE RACIAL DIVISIONS — Recent tensions among students have caused Madera High to implement a policy to control disruptive behavior at the school, according to Principal Beau Carter. The policy deals with strained relations between certain members of different racial groups trying to co-exist in a crowded school setting. Carter assured the board that innocent bystanders are safe from violence on campus for the most part. Board President Carolyn Nolan said students must be assured of their safety. Trustee B.J. Robinson said the number and types of weapons confiscated during the fighting were frightening.

FORUM HELD TO EASE RACIAL TENSIONS AT MADERA HIGH — The student council at Madera High School has organized a forum to help ease racial tensions on the campus. The conference, organized by senior Todd Lile, included concerned professionals, school officials, and students. Television news anchor Rudy Trevino served as the moderator. The itinerary dealt with segregation on campus, student government, club membership, and gangs. Students say different races aren’t allowed in certain areas of the campus, and don’t talk to each other. However, Counselor Matilde Torres said, “These are just perceptions students have and are not reality.”

MCCLURE KILLED IN CAR ACCIDENT — Dr. Cuvier Dean McClure, 69, the benevolent physician who had overseen the Madera County Health Department for most of the past 19 years, was killed instantly Thursday after his car was broadsided while crossing Highway 152 at Road 16 near Chowchilla. McClure had been working to establish health centers in Chowchilla and Oakhurst. County Administrative Officer Stell Manfredi said of McClure, “He was a gentleman’s gentleman with an impeccable family. The county family will miss him tremendously.” Board of Supervisors Chairman Al Ginsburg said, “I was absolutely shocked to lean of his death. I couldn’t believe it.” Supervisor Gail Hanhart McIntyre said, “It is a real tragedy. He was an excellent department head who was well respected at the state level.”

JENSEN STARTS HUNGER STRIKE — District One Supervisor Rick Jensen has decided to handle the state budget somewhat differently than the rest of us. Starting this morning he has embarked on a hunger strike to protest the 42-day-old impasse. “It has been 40 days and 40 nights and we still don’t have a state budget,” said Jensen. “I’m going to do something really weird,” he continued. “I am in good shape, and you can live on water and juices for a long time. “... This stalemate has gone on long enough; I hope my action will in some small way get their (the legislature’s) attention and emphasize to them to end the budget crisis.

JENSEN ENDS HUNGER STRIKE — At noon today, Rick Jensen ate lunch. And with a humble cup of yogurt, granola bits, and pineapple juice, the District One Supervisor ended a 15-day-old hunger strike and one of the strangest protests Madera has ever seen. Jensen, 38, stopped eating on Aug. 11 as a revolt against the then-46-day-old budget impasse. He has been subsisting on water and various juices. But now, after more than two weeks, 12 radio talk shows, 14 pounds, and some significant CNN coverage, Jensen is throwing in the towel so he can return to the business of politics, a job the strike has impeded recently. Jensen said he can afford to quit now because he has made his point. HIGHLIGHTS FROM 1967

WELLS FARGO BANK WILL OPEN FACILITIES HERE — Wells Fargo Bank today announced it would establish its first banking office in Madera County in Madera this spring. Although its history in Madera goes back to the express era, Madera was then part of Fresno County. The firm opened an agency office in town in 1879, and M.C. Landrum was agent-in-charge. Edwin Moore served from 1880 to 1883. Today’s agreement calls for 3,000 square feet in a one-story building at the southeast corner of West Yosemite and South I Street. The Madera branch will offer customers a complete line of banking services.

BETHARD SQUARE SHOPPING CENTER A FIRST FOR MADERA — After many fruitless efforts, Madera is finally going to have a shopping center. Ground was broken Tuesday for the Bethard Square Shopping Center, which will be located on Olive Avenue and I Street. The building is expected to be completed around the first of September. Agreements have already been reached with Thrifty Drugs, Mayfair Markets, Coronet, Sally Shops, Karl’s Shoes, Shell Oil, and Joseph’s Department Store. Jack Chezick, who handled local details for the center, was loud in his praise of the city for its assistance in cutting through red tape.

THRIFTY WILL OPEN OUTLET HERE IN SEPTEMBER — Thrifty Drug Stores will open its first store in Madera in September, it was announced by company officials. The unit, located in the Bethard Square Shopping Center at the intersection of Olive Avenue and South I Street, will cover 20,043 square feet. Beginning with one small store in Los Angeles in 1929, Thrifty is the largest drug and variety department store chain in the West. Each Thrifty Drug Store carries over 25,000 separate items of merchandise. The store will feature a 10-day grand opening sale.

KARL’S SHOE STORE OPENS LOCAL OUTLET — Karl’s, the West’s largest chain of family shoe stores, celebrates the grand opening today of a new store in the Bethard Shopping Center. Sal Alvarez will be in charge of the local store. Harry Karl now directs over 300 outlets coast-to-coast. Besides his executive duties, Karl finds time and personal enthusiasm for a variety of charitable activities. Both he and his wife, actress Debbie Reynolds, are contributors to hospitals, foundations, homes for the aged, and orphanages. Sixty years of retailing experience go into this latest operation.

CORNET STORE CELEBRATES ITS GRAND OPENING — The new Bethard Square Shopping Center is holding another grand opening, this time for the Cornet Store. The festivities will continue through the weekend. Manager Cal Shepherd stated, “Cornet is proud to be part of this fine community and we have looked forward to this new store for some time.” The store contains 15,000 square feet and features a complete variety from toys to yardage including furniture, hardware, auto supplies, and lamps. Cornet Stores was founded in 1923 by Joe and Gladys Cornet. Today it has 145 stores in 11 Western states.

NEW LIBRARY IS PROPOSED — A 20,000-square-foot main county library to serve the community for the next 20 years is the subject of a report filed by county librarian James Petrella to the Board of Supervisors. Petrella suggested three sites for the new library, with the number one choice being the old courthouse, which would have to be gutted and completely reconstructed inside in order to meet library needs. Other possibilities are the area behind the present library and the land opposite City Hall on 4th Street. Petrella notes that the present library is 50 years old and has lost its adult services and reference areas. The shelves are crowded, aisles narrow, and seating inadequate, he says.

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