50 years ago — There is real discrimination in welfare programs against fathers in one-parent homes, the Family and Children’s Advisory Committee agreed Thursday.

Mothers eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children may deduct their legitimate expenses and receive welfare payments although they are employed, it was pointed out. Fathers cannot.

One male parent, whose children are now in juvenile hall, said he might have to quit his job and go on welfare to be able to take his children home, said Mrs. Marguerite Swerdfeger, director of the juvenile probation department and a committee member.

Male parents have, in many cases, far greater problems and less public sympathy than divorced, widowed or abandoned mothers, it was agreed. “They can’t find dependable housekeepers,” Mrs. Swerdfeger pointed out.

There are no supplemental funds for the working male father. “It is discrimination in reverse,” Chaplain Myron C. Insko of the Naval Air Facility, a committee member, pointed out.

Daycare centers demanded by the women’s rights groups might solve the problem, it was agreed. The AFDC program originally was set up for women with children who were widowed and the female parent still receives more benefits, Mrs. Florence Kinloch, Imperial County Welfare director, pointed out.

Does the stigma of “being on welfare” cost the taxpayer money by lowering the negative self-image and, therefore, the motivation of recipients, especially the children? The question was tossed out Thursday at an informal, bare quorum of the Family and Children’s Service Advisory Committee, a 10-month-old group whose aim is to study and, hopefully, both educate the public and improve the welfare system in the county.


40 years ago — A furniture warehouse burst into flames Wednesday afternoon near Third and Main streets, El Centro, and was reduced to a pile of smoking rubble by the time the Fire Department got the blaze extinguished.

The fire, which broke out about 3:30 p.m. engulfed Imperial Stores’ 14,000-square-foot warehouse in a matter of minutes. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation, but Fire Department officials and witnesses at the scene suspect electrical wiring.

Three fire department personnel, firemen Mike Benavidez and Terry Scortt and Cmdr. Richard Mazzone were briefly hospitalized at El Centro Community Hospital for heat exhaustion and released.

Scortt, who suffered blisters and burns, reportedly had to return to the emergency room later.

Fire Chief Tom Garner said the fire pointed up an under-staff problem in his department, although firemen from Holtville, Brawley, Calexico, county and Naval Air Facility helped in putting out the fire.

Three Imperial Hardware employees were inside the warehouse when the blaze broke out. One of them, 19-year-old Calexico resident Paul Torres who drives a truck for the company, said he and another employee tried to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher, but it quickly for out of hand.

“I saw some fire on the walls,” Torres said, “then it busted inward through the roof. It started coming faster and faster I decided to drop it and get out.”

Torres said it took “no more than a minute for the fire to reach from one end of the warehouse to the other, an observation backed up by El Centro police officer Henry Proo, who was on the scene moments after the call came in.

“Three workers ran inside,” Proo said “but as soon as it hit the ceiling in the front, it was gone. I knew it … those fire extinguishers weren’t going to do any good so I told them to get out.”


30 years ago — “There’s no magic left,” said City Manager Rodger Bennett after offering a bitter pill to cure Brawley’s budget problems by suggesting slashing the general fund budget by 20 percent.

The City Council Monday declined to swallow the pill immediately but set another session for today to decide if it will go along with a budget plan that calls for layoffs and a reduction of services to make the general fund expenses fit into an estimated $5.09 million in revenue.

The general fund budget is only part of the total city $16.5 million overall budget. The general fund budget must be funded almost entirely by taxes. City government functions such as police and fire protection and parks and recreation are paid for from general fund money.

Bennett’s budget proposal would eliminate animal control services, cut 10 full-time employees.

The number of part-time employees rises and falls seasonally. The reduction in staff would mean immediately laying off four employees, including the dog-catcher, who was told Thursday he would probably lose his job.


20 years ago — When 17-year-old Raul Gomez leads Central Union High School’s Great Spartan Band onto Cal Jones Field for football game halftime shows this fall, he won’t do so merely as a drum major but as the nation’s top drum major in his age division.

Raul, a senior a Central, captured the National Baton Twirlers’ Association’s national drum major championship in the 16-24 age division during a week of NBTA events July 25-30 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

Pitted against 15 drum majors from all over the nation in the finals, Raul came away champion and later placed in a slew of other events.

“Ever since I was little I wanted to be a drum major. I would twirl odd sticks pretending I was a drum major,” said Raul, who has fronted the Central marching band for two years and was assistant drum major as a sophomore.

He said winning the top prize “was pretty exciting. I’ve been doing this since I was in eighth grade. It was great to see something like this come out of all the hard work.”

Raul was drum major at Holtville Middle School and, before that, studied music under former Holtville Unified School District music teacher Renee Baker, who now heads Central’s marching band.

Raul still lives in Holtville but received an inter-district transfer to follow Baker, who he describes as a mentor, and to be part of the Great Spartan Band.

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