50 years ago — Plans for construction of a temporary border gate near the Calexico port of entry have been approved by United States and Mexican government officials.

Washington, D.C., sources related the approval during a telephone interview Wednesday.

Sources at the office Rep. Bob Wilson, R-San Diego, U.S. Treasury Department, said that in a letter dated Oct. 16 and signed by acting Commissioner of Customs Edwin Rains, “officials were pleased to report the temporary gate has been approved.”

Office sources also said that during a recent meeting of Rains and Garcia Camberos, director of Mexican customs, an agreement was reached for the opening of the new gate within 60 days.

The temporary gate originally was submitted by Calexico in May, to a group of U.S. and Mexico border officials during meetings concerned with the long delays at the port of entry.

The city proposed the temporary facility be constructed at the Heber Avenue access 400 feet east of the present border facility.

The city would construct the facility at an approximate cost of $25,000. The federal government would provide the manpower.

Plans include a primary and secondary inspection area, single-lane traffic (northbound only) but no provision for pedestrian traffic.

City officials are now looking at a new problem: Where does the money come from to pay for the gate?

The money for the project was not budgeted into the city’s regular expenditures for 1970-71. In an earlier discussion, the City Council determined the money would come from capital outlay.

But with the recent hospital expense and the transferring of $76,000 from the general reserve to cover the hospital overdrafts, the general reserve has now been, as councilman Jerry Patton pointed out, cut in half.

As word of the gate approval reached the councilmen, it was apparent during brief interviews with each of them that they were concerned. The apparent concern now is how to cover the cost of the gate.


40 years ago — It will take all of 50 pounds of dynamite and a few seconds to turn the county Services Building into a pile of rubble. And it could all be over by next week.

The Board of Supervisors set the explosion in motion Tuesday when it agreed to let the San Ramon demolition firm of the Evans Brothers hire a subcontractor to handle the explosives.

In spite of the action, however, supervisors and county officials are keeping the exact time and date of event under wraps.

Public Works Director David Pierson said the county does not want to make the date public for fear of spectators getting injured by flying rubble.

However, the building is expected to be tippled within the next several days at time when county employees will not be in either the courthouse or the health department.

And in preparation of the event, the fence around the building crippled by Oct. 15, 1979 earthquake was extended across Main Street. The street must be reopened by Nov.25.

Supervisors decided Tuesday to let the Evans Brothers hire Tantra Inc., a firm specializing in work with explosives after receiving a letter from Dan Evans stating the explosives would allow the job to be done without a ball and chain, “which will mitigate noise impacts and minimize traffic obstructions.”

Pierson said Tantra plans to use 50 pounds of dynamite set in 8-pound charges throughout the Service Building.

The charge will go off at intervals of 1/1,000 of a second, starting on the ground floor and working up.

Pierson said the building will appear to fall instantaneously. But the sound will actually be muffled by the timing of the charges.

He said the building is expected to land in a pile of rubble approximately where the building now stands.


30 years ago — The partially decomposed bodies of an Oroville man and a woman were found Saturday in graves in a military bombing range northeast of here, and authorities said today they are treating the deaths as homicides.

The body of the woman found is thought to be that of his wife, according to investigators. There was, however, no immediate indication about what caused their deaths, according to Imperial County Sheriff’s Office Deputy John Higgins. “We have no idea (how they died). The autopsy is scheduled for sometime today. We won’t know anything until after the autopsy,” he said.

The bodies were found about five miles inside the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, Higgins said. The discovery was made by “a transient” walking in the range, which is off-limits to civilians.

Sheriff’s investigators identified the man as Ernest Lee Elliott, 50, by using the state Department of Justice fingerprint file, said Coroner Investigator Dharam Samra. But Samra said the woman’s body was too decomposed to immediately identify.

It is not known how long Elliott and the woman had been dead, Samra added.

Higgins described Elliot as a “transient” and said relatives in the Oroville area last reported seeing him and his wife in October. It is not known why Elliott and the woman were in Imperial County and investigators have not yet found anyone who saw them in the Niland area, Higgins added.

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