50 years ago — El Centro’s schools are “practically at maximum capacity” and a “substantial increase in student population within any school area” will require more facilities, trustees of the school district were told Wednesday night by Dr. Jens Hutchens, superintendent.

Dr. Hutchens presented to the board of trustees a report compiled on the request of the city’s citizen advisory committee, appointed recently by the city council to investigate effects of a proposed 200-unit low-income Housing Authority project north of city limits.

At the last school board meeting two weeks ago, Richard E. Proudfit, representing the citizens committee, asked for information from the school district regarding feasibility of the proposal. It has not been given approval yet by the El Centro City Council.

Proudfit asked how the population relates to school facilities, if the units will affect classroom balance, what the cost would be if a new school is necessary, how the cost would affect taxes. If the board plans expansion of existing school sites and if there is a “recommended distance” for children to walk to school.

Hutchens, while pointing out district schools are almost filled, said, “Four classrooms now being used on a part-time basis could be used to house additional pupils.”

He said the school closest to the proposed site for the Housing Authority’s project is McKinley School, which Hutchens termed “at maximum capacity.” He estimated cost of a new school to meet the need for 200 new families in the area could cost as much as $500,000.

In the past, the board has considered expansion of DeAnza. In addition, enlargement of Kennedy Junior High School has been discussed. Both expansions were considered to relieve already-crowded facilities, not to prepare for an influx of students which would come from another area of the city.


40 years ago — The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday heard Imperial County farmers claim for an exemption to land-holding limitations spelled out by the Reclamation Act of 1902.

Attorneys representing the Imperial Irrigation District, the Carter Administration and Dr. Ben Yellen presented testimony to the nine top justices in the country after the court agreed late last year to hear the case.

After the hour-long hearing, anti-limitation forces on hand expressed confidence that the Supreme Court justices seemed sympathetic to their cause.

Imperial County growers are seeking an outright exemption from any limitations — however, they may be eventually amended by the Legislature — and after nearly two decades, the growers wended their way to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is expected to release a decision based on oral and written testimony presented within the next three months, which is when the legislature should be moving on bills that would expand acreage being limited throughout the Western states while exempting Imperial County land.

Those bills would increase acreage allowable to be irrigated with water from federal reclamation project to up to 1,280 acres per person. Amendments have been added to most of the house bills to exempt Imperial County.

Initially, Imperial County growers base their claim for exemption on written statements released by various Interior Department officials over the years.

But IID attorneys took a different argument to the Supreme Court Tuesday. It was based on the Supreme Court’s own decision last year in the California vs. Arizona case, which set water allocations for various water districts.

Attorneys Northcutt Ely and Reginald Knox told the court that limiting acreage in Imperial County would radically alter water usage and would negate the Supreme Court’s own allocation.

In January 1979, the Supreme Court allocated 2.6 million acre-feet of water from the Colorado River via the Boulder Dam-All American Canal for the irrigation of 424,145 acres of land.

The limitation of land would “greatly reduce present perfected rights,” said Ely this morning from his Washington, D.C., office.


30 years ago — In his first big acting break, Central Union High School graduate Donal Logue portrays Danny McGoff, a youth caught in the struggles surrounding the desegregation of the Boston schools, in a miniseries airing Sunday and Tuesday on KECY-TV.

The CBS miniseries, “Common Ground,” is the true story of three families and who they were touched by the turbulent and often violent events that erupted in the 1960s and ’70s when Boston school children were bused to new schools.

Alice McGoff, played by Jane Curtin, is a widow dismayed that her seven children might not be allowed to attend neighborhood schools. Logue plays her son.

“Common Ground is a huge story,” Logue said in a telephone interview from his Boston home. “There were well over 10 speaking roles. ... I’m the oldest son in an Irish-American family.”

“It is a really important film,” he added.

But there were difficulties in making the movie.

“People don’t want to see racial strife depicted on the screen,” Logue said. “The Hollywood filmmakers had to make it tamer, cutting out a lot of the cussing, for example.”

In only his second try at television movies, Logue, 24, passed four rounds of auditions for this part and was selected over actors auditioned in Los Angeles, New York and Toronto.

“On the strength of this (acting role), I met network people and I got an agent,” Logue said.

Filming took place last fall in Toronto, and Logue was involved in two of the seven weeks of filming.

Logue got his start on the stage and has performed in about 25 theatrical productions.

“Television is easier than the theater,” he said. “Film is shot in short segments and there is more room for physical action. There is a freedom you don’t get in the theater.

“On stage, you have to create the feeling of fear. But in television, physical movement helps to express fear.”


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