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History from 25, 50 years ago in the Week of Feb. 18

Madera County Historical Society Twenty-five years ago, Cole Lee Hurst, upset over the constant theft of flowers left at the grave of her son, Roger, staked out the grave and led police to the arrest of a Madera man who was charged with a felony.


25 Years Ago

Week of Feb. 18, 1993

TRUSTEES REASSIGN CARTER AND HARPER — Principal Beau Carter and Vice Principal Perry Harper will be reassigned to the position of administrator on special assignment for the remainder of the school year. After the school year ends, Carter will be reassigned as a classroom teacher, and Harper will retire. The action was taken after the findings of an investigation were released Tuesday night. Bill Atwood, the school’s activities director may also be reassigned. Assistant Superintendent Julie O’Kane will run Madera High throughout the remainder of the school year, and Vice Principal Mel Silva will resume his normal duties.

GRAVE YARD FLOWER THIEF CAUGHT — Cole Lee Hurst of Madera lost her son Roger to leukemia last August when he was just 22 years old. Since then a thief has added to her grief by stealing flowers she left at his grave. On Valentine’s Day, she decided to establish her own stakeout, guessing the thief would strike again on that day. She was right. Sitting in a truck outside the cemetery, she watched a man drive up in a black El Camino and walk to her son’s grave. He picked up a plant left there and returned to his vehicle. Hurst called the police on her cellular phone, and they arrested Salvador Gonzales, 43. District Attorney Ernie LiCalsi added a felony charge to petty theft because the penal code makes it a felony to steal or destroy items at a gravesite.

WALLESTAD IS OVERWHELMED BY COMMUNITY SUPPORT — Madera’s Jack-In-The-Box restaurant was crowded Friday night by residents showing their support for its owner Austin Wallestad and all the support he has given the schools and community. “It was unbelievable. I just feel great. The turnout was fabulous. It just brings tears to your eyes,” said Wallestad. During the rally, a steady flow of Maderans turned out to eat and lend their support to Wallestad. The rally, which was the brainchild of Realtor Dennis Chezick, let Wallestad see that the community does appreciate the help he has given to Madera Unified and the community during the five years he has owned the Madera Jack-In-The-Box restaurant.

HARGROVE NEW FAIR MANAGER — Although Dean Hargrove has been given the nod as the new Madera District Fair Secretary-Manager by the Board of Directors, the official vote will take place at a special meeting March 2. According to Board President Joe Van Alen, the state needs a vote taken in open session. Hargrove is currently Director of Marketing at the Fresno District Fair. He will officially start on March 1 but will not be full time until he can complete the transition from Fresno to Madera. The District Fair received 180 applications to replace Thomas Musser as fair manager. The field was narrowed to three and in a closed session, the directors gave Hargrove the nod.

WAGONS AND MULE SALE RAISES $3,4OO — Knowing that all good things must come to an end, Saturday was a bittersweet day for James Monroe School’s young pioneers. After traveling more than 900 miles with their mules and wagons, retracing the gold rush trail of ‘49er William P. Huff, the kids and their wagon train parted company. The mules and wagons were sold to help replenish the Madera Historical Society’s Madera Method Fund in anticipation of next year’s adventure. Mule handlers from all parts of Madera and Fresno County appeared for the sale, but it was Steve King of Madera and the Diedrich Brothers from Firebaugh who carried the day. King promised the school it could borrow the team for future wagon train trips. 50 Years Ago

Week of Feb. 18, 1968

MISS MINNETI NAMED STAMPEDE HOSTESS — Lynea Minneti of Madera, a petite Fresno City College co-ed and the reigning Miss Madera County, has been named the official hostess for the annual Chowchilla Western Stampede, March 29 through 31. The event annually attracts scores of the nation’s top team ropers and calf ropers and has become a preview of the national finals because the top 20 finalists in each event always start the rodeo season by competing here. The event also features cowgirls’ barrel racing, with state champions and national finalists competing. Miss Minneti’s duties will include welcoming the performers and presenting the awards to the winners following the finals in each event.

FRUIT BASKET RE-OPENING SET FOR MAY — Fruit Basket owner-operator Dale Gleichweit today reported a $60,000 insurance settlement, which he said will be used to rebuild the portion of his restaurant damaged by fire. Plans are being drawn now, Gleichweit said, to replace the older, wooden portion of the restaurant. The new construction will be moved northward from the gift shop, banquet room, and restrooms. Gleichweit expects to have plans from Roy B. Lyon within the next two weeks, then will place the project out to bid. He hopes to re-open in May. The new section will have the same seating capacity but will have a different appearance, Gleichweit said.

NEW CLEANERS CAN CLEAN ANYTHING BUT “YOUR REPUTATION” — Friday and Saturday will be the grand opening of the new Town and Country Dry Cleaners at 1800 Howard Road and Williams Street. The cleaners is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Emmett Purl, who also own Purl’s Sheet Metal here in Madera. Forrst Martin is the manager of the new establishment. Fay Martin and Nellie Reese round out the present staff. One unique feature that the new cleaner offers is fur cleaning and glazing. Furs are “hand handled” when cleaned. All grades of fur from lamb to chinchilla can be given the special treatment. Martin added “We like to feel that we can clean anything but your reputation.”

IRS CLOSES WALT’S TRUCK STOP — Walt’s Truck Stop and Cafe, a major truckers’ stop on U.S. 99 at Avenue 17, has been seized by the Internal Revenue Service for back taxes. Involved are two tax liens recorded against Walter A. Richardson amounting to $40,000 plus a $2,232 lien filed against Dorothy Richardson in the name of the cafe. The liens are for non-payment of taxes on diesel fuel and on workman’s compensation on employees from July 1 to Dec. 31, 1967. The property was seized and closed to prevent further liability from being incurred and to protect the government’s interests.

MASKED MEN HOLD UP 22-MILE HOUSE — Two men with stockings over their heads held up Polly’s 22-Mile House on Highway 41 Friday evening taking $35 from the case register and three customers. The men entered the tavern with drawn guns and told the customers to lay their purses and wallets on the floor. Donald Wittman, his wife, Majorie of Orangevale, and Blanche Parker of Coarsegold, were then ordered to lie on the floor while one of the robbers collected the money. They fired three shots into the south side of the building when they left. The holdup is the second the 22-Mile House has experienced.

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