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The county sheriff didn’t miss a thing

Allison Cole/For The Madera Tribune Madera County Sheriff Marlin Young (right) is greeted by Gov. Ronald Reagan in the State Capitol circa 1962.


Marlin Young was the 10th sheriff of Madera County. He began his service in 1955, and eight years later, in 1962, he compiled a 45-page “Progress Report” that gave unparalleled insight into the workings of his department at the middle of the 20th century.

Sheriff Young’s chief assistant was his Under-sheriff, James B. Haney, who joined the department in February, 1946.

Next in line was William O. Helm, Chief of the Bureau of Identification. He had joined the department in July, 1942.

There were two sergeants working for Sheriff Young: Salvador Vizcarra and Tito Malesani. The former had joined the department in July 1953, and the latter came aboard in April, 1956.

There were six Deputy Sheriffs assigned to the Madera area. The one with the longest, continuous service was Robert McCandless who had been with the department since November, 1956.

Next came John Gill, who was first employed in June, 1955, and served until March, 1960, at which time he relocated in Alaska. In February, 1961, he returned and rejoined the department.

William Cooley joined the force in October, 1958, and Bennie Molina joined in December, 1959. Molina had been a member of the Madera Police Department for four years prior to becoming a deputy sheriff.

Coy Tiller was hired in April, 1959 after working as a police officer in Mendota and Firebaugh for seven years.

M.R. Vivid joined the department in May, 1960.

In addition to the Madera deputies, there were four “resident” deputies, that is men who lived in the outlying areas of the county and maintained substations there. These officers had to assume responsibility for all law enforcement activities in their assigned areas.

Dana Boomer, who joined the department in 1954, lived in the Chowchilla area. Jesse West had the Oakhurst area; Harry (Kip) Haring was resident deputy in North Fork, and Shirley (Tiny) Baxter had the Bass Lake area.

The resident deputies had to work on a 24-hour basis and were assigned to answer complaints, conduct investigations, transport prisoners, serve subpoenas and make arrests.

Then, of course, there were the jailers on Sheriff Young’s watch. Five deputy sheriffs were assigned to maintain the County Jail. They were B.L. Richards, Harry Thomas, Francis E. Jorgenson, Ronald Mahaffey, and James McDonald.

Sheriff Young had one bailiff for the Superior Court and two matrons for the jail. The bailiff was Si Hurst, and the matrons were Mrs. Carol Herman, who was the night matron and Mrs. Evah McCullough, who worked on weekends.

It comes as no surprise that the Sheriff’s Office had its hands full maintaining law and order with such small numbers. From 1955 to 1962, there were 82 grand theft bookings; 197 grand theft auto bookings; 134 cases of forgery; 77 rape bookings, and 392 burglary bookings, just to name a few of the felony bookings.

To say that Sheriff Young had to operate his department on a shoestring is an understatement by today’s standards The total budget for the Sheriff’s Office in 1955-56 was $96,495; its smallest allotment. The highest budget figure came in 1958-59 with $139,022.

The sheriff’s office had 11 cars by 1961. They were washed and polished by prisoners. Sheriff Young kept track of all of the prisoner hours that were used to promote such public projects. Thirty prisoners worked outside for six hours per day, five days per week, 52 weeks per year, equaling 47,800 man-hours.

Five prisoners, or trusties, worked inside the jail for eight hours per day, seven days per week, 52 weeks per year, equaling 10,400 man-hours. The total man-hours worked by prisoners were 58,200. And so the report went: fees, juries, communications, investigations, civil defense, and a look ahead.

Sheriff Young had a clear eye to the future He predicted the largest problems would come from the eastern portion of the county with its large population influx into Oakhurst, Ahwahnee, Bass Lake, and North Fork. He said Hidden Valley and Buchanan dams were fairly well assured and would create recreational areas that would require additional law enforcement.

Clearly, Sheriff Marlin Young had a firm handle on the present and a sharp eye out for the future. He put it in his book, but that wasn’t all. He had some advice for everyone; he put that in verse:

We are simply spokes in a wheel,

And when working together aright,

Can accomplish wonderful things,

And make any task light.

It’s such an inspiring thought,

That wherever we happen to be,

I am essential to you,

And you are essential to me.

— Selected


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