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MID, 100 years old

For The Madera Tribune

These headlines shouted the success of the effort to create MID 100 years ago.


One hundred years ago, the Madera Tribune ran an unusual New Year’s issue. Something big was going on around here, and Howard Clark, the paper’s editor and publisher, had something to say about it. The next day, Jan. 2, 1920, the people were going to the polls to decide whether or not to vote for the creation of the Madera Irrigation District.

Clark made no bones about where he stood on the issue. He had the following advice for his readers.

“The first thing to do tomorrow morning is, of course, to wake up; then get up and light the fires; after this eat your breakfast; then kiss your wife, put on your hat and coat and start to work. THEN — comes the big event of the day. Make yourself a New Year’s present that won’t cost you a cent, that will make you remember Jan. 2, 1920, with the pleasantest memory you could possibly have; just go direct to the polling place in your precinct and present yourself with a perfectly good irrigation district. To do this, all you have to do is, get your ballot, walk into the booth and carefully place a cross after the word “Yes” on the top of the ballot.

You know the word “Yes” is one of the greatest in our language; said by your wife some years ago, you thought, it was the greatest you had ever heard, and, of course, if you are any kind of a man, you still think so; this time that word “Yes” means prosperity for you, your family, your neighbor, your district, your county and your state. “Yes” means a direct message to Miller and Lux that you and your community refuse any longer to be bluffed out of what belongs to you and yours; that you are going out and get what rightfully belongs to you.

“Yes” means that Madera County will take its place in the sun with its sister counties to the north and south as one of the most prosperous counties in the state of California. “Yes” means that Madera County will be enabled to have what it has been dreaming of for these many years — a comprehensive system of permanent good roads. “Yes” means that Madera County will have that Memorial building for the boys who went away and fought for us that we might be forever relieved of the menace of the Hun. They are rightfully entitled to it and they must and shall have it; but the only way we can give them a building that we and they will be proud of is to increase our wealth by bringing more people into our county, and developing the countless thousands of acres in this truly wonderful inland empire of ours.

“Yes’ is something that you will be proud of as long as you live; “No” is something that even the few who figure on saying it are ashamed of, for they do not speak publicly, but only in whispers. “Yes” is a fitting greeting to the New Year which promises to be the most wonderful that has ever visited Madera County.

“Yes” is a man’s way of answering the attack made by Miller and Lux; “No” would be the cringing cur’s answer when slapped on the face. Madera County has demonstrated that this is not the answer we make to insults; we know how to fight back and how to stand together. “Yes” will show that Madera County has well learned the lesson of cooperation that a national need taught us during the war; we must, to repeat a well-worn quotation, “All hang together or we will all hang separately.”

“Yes” means that we have forever set our faces forward to the great destiny that is before us and our children; “No” that we are content with our lot. Contentment with their lot was not what our forefathers felt when they created this government; life is a continuous struggle for better things. We must fight for our just dues. “Yes” voted by you means just one more vote, one more step forward.

After you have taken this step see that your neighbor does the same thing; constitute yourself a committee of one to get every vote that you possibly can think of cast at the election tomorrow.

Thus did Tribune publisher Howard Clark unveil his true feelings on the creation of Madera Irrigation District, and the people overwhelming agreed with him. They voted 97 percent in the affirmative for MID, 1,642 to 47.

The people also elected five directors of the new district: Dr. N.E. Sanders, W.H. Benson, John B. High, J. Walter Schmitz, and E.M. McCardle.

On January 12, the Board of Supervisors officially canvassed the election returns, declared the district formed and the directors elected. Work then began on preparing to put MID to work.

So here we are, a century later, and MID is about to take us all on a journey into the past by unveiling a book on the exciting centennial history of the district. Be on the look-out for it. I have seen a draft, and it is good.

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