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On this date in Merced history

February 10, 1959


Atwater City Council Monday night passed two new ordinances, one dealing with subdivisions of less than five lots and the other with control of weeds, refuse and mistletoe.

The subdivision ordinance more clearly defines the procedure small subdividers must follow. If no public improvements, such as streets, curbs, and gutters need be installed, only a sketch map and a record of survey need be filed with Atwater Planning Commission.

Other subdividers must follow a more lengthy procedure similar to that followed by larger subdividers.

The ordinance makes it illegal for a property owner to sell any portion of his land without first complying with the ordinance.

The second ordinance will allow the city to clean weeds, refuse and mistletoe from private property, after proper notice, if the property owner, does not do so himself. The cost of the work would be charged to the property owner.

The city presently cleans weeds from lots under another ordinance, whenever a fire or health hazard is established.

February 10, 1979


It seems reasonable to expect the Merced College baseball team to suffer through a mediocre campaign once in awhile. That time may come but it’s not going to be this year.

Since Butch Hughes took over as head coach in 1972, the Blue Devils have won five Division II (small schools) state championships, including the last three, and six consecutive Central Conference crowns. With the number of quality players in camp this season, MC should be challenging for yet another state title when May rolls around.

Five Blue Devils were selected in the recent major league winter free agent draft and some observers believe the current club may eventually rank with the 1974 juggernaut, one of the finest athletic teams ever produced at MC. “I have to believe this can be one of our better teams at Merced College if everyone plays up to his capabilities,” says Hughes, whose squad launched the season today in the annual Fresno City College Invitational tournament. “I think our biggest problem is that we’ve moved a lot of people to different positions and they're still adjusting.

“Another problem we’re having is that the freshman aren’t used to practicing and playing on a day-to-day basis with as much intensity as I want. But there is a lot of pressure on them and that’s probably more my fault than anything else.

“On the plus side, this is by far the best team speed we’ve had so we’re going to be running a lot. In addition, our pitching depth is as solid as we’ve ever had at the college. And I think we’re going to have one of our better hitting clubs so we’re going to score some runs.”

February 10, 1984


If your home wasn’t burglarized in 1983, thank a narc.

Criminal activity in Merced declined “significantly” in 1983, partly because of a crackdown on drug offenders, Police Chief Patrick Lunney said Thursday.

Compared to the year before, most of the major crimes showed a decline, Lunney said.

The 1983 index of major crimes, including aggravated assault, arson, burglary, auto theft, grand theft, robbery, rape and murder, showed a 12.2 percent decrease, from 2,287 in 1982 to 2,077, he said.

He attributed at lease some of the decrease in crime figures to the department’s increased effort in working on drug cases.

A special squad of “narcs” called the Heroin Impact Team was organized within the detective division last year to concentrate on catching narcotics violators.

“We’ve increased our emphasis on narcotics and we’ve seen a large number of arrests,” Lunney said. “As a result, we see a decline in the types of crimes committed by addicts.”

Those crimes include burglaries, property crimes and even some violent crimes, he said.

The HIT team targets drug suppliers, with the idea of removing them from the scene so drug users will go elsewhere, Lunney said.

“I can’t prove it (caused the crime index to decrease), he said, “but that may explain part of it.”

The area that experienced the greatest decline was rape, with 10 occurrences in 1983 compared to 18 in 1982. That represents a 44.4 percent decline, he said.

Grand thefts went from 321 in 1982 to 120 in 1983, a 62.6 percent drop. That decline was partly because the limit for grand theft classifications was raised from $200 to $400, Lunney said.

Burglaries went down from 907 in 1982 to 840 in 1983, a 7.9 percent drop.

Aggravated assaults, or assaults likely to result in great bodily harm, fell from 124 in 1982 to 97 in 1983, a 21.8 percent decline.