Debby Carter

Remember when ...

The Oakhurst Library under construction some 40 years ago.
The Oakhurst Library under construction some 40 years ago. Sierra Star / Fresno Flats Archives

Compiled by Debby Carter from the archives of Fresno Flats Research Library and the Sierra Star.

50 years ago

Terry Simpson, of Avila Beach, 25-year-old former Cal Poly student, won all-around cowboy honors at the Coarsegold Rodeo. Simpson won first place in calf roping and second in bulldogging. He is the ranch manager for Marre Land and Cattle Co. Close to 4,000 rodeo fans attended the annual event.

Bass Lake is full from runoff and is awaiting the influx of campers and trailers, which begins the Memorial Day weekend and continues unabated until the weekend of Labor Day. The July 4th holiday is when the annual fireworks display brings a fresh stream of outsiders to swell the already crowded lake facilities.

John L. Malone, manager of the Bank of America’s Oakhurst branch, will be guest speaker at Wasuma School’s graduation ceremonies. The title of his address will be “Astronauts, the Beatles, and Cartographers.” Malone is a member of the local Kiwanis Club and the Chamber of Commerce.

40 years ago

Oakhurst and surrounding communities can expect some degree of blackouts this summer and fall if residents throughout the state do not employ stricter conservation measures, PG&E officials have warned. The drought drastically lowered reservoirs in California, and PG&E was forced to burn low-sulfur oil to generate electricity. They may have enough power to meet demands in August and September.

An Ahwahnee boy gets to shake the president’s hand. Jeff Swiecki made the most of it. “I couldn’t get a very good look at him when he first arrived, but I just stuck my hand out as far as it would go and shook his hand. I told him that we had a letter waiting for him in the plane, and he said, ‘Good. It’ll give me something to read,’ so I know he heard me.” Jeff, a fifth grader at Wasuma, greeted President Jimmy Carter on behalf of the school district. As their representative, Jeff was given the responsibility of handing the president a letter from school principal Leonard H. Brown.

The new Oakhurst library-firehouse-ambulance bay complex will be dedicated on Sunday, June 12. It is located next to the Fresno River off Highway 41, and was built at a cost of $175,000. It will accommodate 20,000 books and seat 40 persons in the library’s 3,000 square feet. Donations have paid for the plumbing, partitions, and floor covering. Volunteer firefighters are working on the interior of their facility.

30 years ago

Trustees of the Oakhurst Union and Bass Lake Elementary School Districts have agreed to merge into a single district. The combined district would operate under the Bass Lake name because it would be financially beneficial to both districts, and especially to Oakhurst. The vote among trustees was unanimous, as was a show of hands from the audience at a joint meeting of the two districts. An election of a new board will be held.

A 31-member committee heard a host of ideas about what to do with the surplus county property in Ahwahnee. The 464-acre former tuberculosis sanitarium site, last used as a boys school, is the largest piece of county-owned property. Suggestions include a firefighter training center, a retirement community and golf course, an outdoor educational center, and a recreation area and park.

A United States Supreme Court ruling last week said the Rotary Club in California has to admit women. Many people believe that the other service clubs that have been exclusive for men or women will be affected also. The Rotarians interviewed by the Sierra Star were positive in their responses to the inclusion of women.

20 years ago

Construction of the first phase of the Fresno-Madera Highway 41 project was approved in Sacramento last week by the state Transportation Commission. The first of two phases include Madera County. It also includes building bridges over the San Joaquin River, Perrin Road, and Avenue 9.

Building of a new historical research center and library at Oakhurst’s Fresno Flats Historical Park is moving ahead at a rapid pace. The 1,200 square foot structure will contain a 500 square foot fire-resistant, climate-controlled archival vault for storage of the historical park’s collection of old journals, publications, photos, and other items which people may study to learn about the history of the foothills and mountains of Central California.

“Whenever fire or medical emergencies arise, there are great advantages to having a volunteer fireman as a neighbor.” So comments Tom Williams, training officer for Oakhurst’s Volunteer Company 12, who explains that it is like having a group of well-trained friends willing to drop everything, including their regular jobs, to help a neighbor in need. In many ways, it is not Eastern Madera County’s volunteer fire departments which augment the paid professionals of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, but the other way around. Volunteers are trained as “first responders” so that in fire or medical emergencies the first person on scene can take the proper initial steps to help, even before a fire truck arrives.