Compiled by Debby Carter from the archives of Fresno Flats Research Library and the Sierra Star.
50 Years Ago
* Oakhurst Community Center opens its next fund drive to complete the center. Over 1,500 letters have been mailed to the community, reporting on the progress of work to date and the uncompleted building needs. Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Sweet of Oakhurst responded first with a donation to pay for the heating and cooling systems being installed by Don Williams and Ken Kirby. Additional funds are needed for kitchen equipment, flood lighting, paving, and parking.
* John C. Preston, superintendent of Yosemite National Park since 1952, has informed the NPS that he will retire after more than 40 years of government service. Following World War I, his love of the wilderness prompted him to seek employment in the NPS. His first assignment was ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park. His starting salary was $1,320 per year, less $180 for quarters. His career included serving as superintendent at Lassen NP, Mount Rainier NP, and Great Smokey Mountains NP.
* VFW is sponsoring a turkey shoot for rifle and pistol, to be held at the roping arena south of Raymond.
* “That Funny Feeling” is showing at the Ponderosa Pines Theater, staring Sandra Dee, Bobby Darin, and Donald O’Conner.
40 Years Ago
* The California Highway Commission is considering a proposal to rescind 9.1 miles of the freeway adoption on Highway 49 in Madera County, between Highway 41 in Oakhurst and 0.4 miles south of the Mariposa County line. The Highway Commission adopted the freeway route in 1961. Rescinding the option is prompted by lack of funds to construct the freeway in the foreseeable future, and not for at least 20 years.
* The American Freedom Train will visit Fresno for three days, announced Mayor Ted C. Wills. Displayed in the 25-car train will be artifacts, historic documents, and memorabilia encompassing every facet of the nation’s 200-year history. Some of these are: George Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution, a lunar rover, A.M. Willard’s “The Spirit of ’76,” authentic Indian relics, a Bible belonging to Martin Luther King, Jr., and more. Ten display cars painted red, white, and blue offer a multimedia panoramic depiction of America’s progress.
* Rick Schaal, dressed as Santa Claus, rode through Oakhurst on a decorated fire engine, calling on the merchants. Later, he made a trip to Oakhurst Union School with candy and treats donated by the Parent Teacher Group of Oakhurst.
* “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens is being presented by the Golden Chain Theatre. Roger Siglin plays Scrooge and Ian McKenna plays Tiny Tim.
30 Years Ago
* Assemblyman Bill Jones spoke to the Oakhurst-Sierra Rotary Club and called the idea of converting the old Ahwahnee Hills School campus, which closed last summer, into a junior college an “interesting” one. He also gave an overview of the state’s programs passed during the last session.
* The new seat belt law will go into effect on Jan. 1, and has attracted much attention. The California Highway Patrol supports this legislation, as it has been shown that seat belts save lives. Some objections have been heard from people who feel that the new law infringes on their right to make individual choices. Since unbelted accident victims suffer more severe injuries, if they live, we all pay the price in higher insurance rates and higher cost of government-sponsored medical programs, said Commissioner James E. Smith.
* Sidney Carlin and other area musicians are forming a community orchestra. In 1966, Ralph Schroeder organized the Oakhurst Community Orchestra. He recruited musicians from the entire mountain community, including some talented students. Their first concert was at the Community Center in the spring of 1967, and Sidney Carlin played the flute. The “old” orchestra functioned for only three seasons, dissolving when Schroeder left the area. The organizers of the new orchestra have high hopes that it will become a lasting part of the musical scene of the area.
* The Madera County Planning Commission approved a mini-mart with a self-service gas station at Roads 274 and 222. The permit was requested by William Guy Sutton.
20 Years Ago
* Deputy Chief Bill Murdock from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Madera-Mariposa-Merced Ranger Unit, has issued a proclamation prohibiting open burning, along with the announcement that the 1995 fire season is officially closed. Murdock says CDF understands the need for removing hazardous brush piles accumulated over summer, however, until there is a significant climate change it would be a threat to the area if the public were allowed to burn them.
* On World AIDS Day, a group of local people took part in a candlelight walk in downtown Oakhurst. Mountain Area AIDS Services and Support sponsored the walk, educational displays in front of businesses, a video, and refreshments.
* Planning Consultant Rob Strong says that the proposed Oakhurst-Ahwahnee Area Plan will only be as good as the abilities of the communities involved to enforce it. He noted that the 1980 Area Plan, which was approved but never implemented, contained the same basic goals as does the new proposal, including more effective citizen participation in the planning process to protect the current lifestyle and atmosphere of the area.
* Dr. Gary Pence and Jackie Mallouf have been named Man and Woman of the Year for Eastern Madera County for 1995. They were honored at last week’s EMC Chamber of Commerce awards dinner.