Spelling Bee Begins with a Twang, Ends with Phyllophagous

 Middle school spelling teams competed in the Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee final held at the Merced County Office of Education offices in Merced. Photo: Steve Newvine

Middle school spelling teams competed in the Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee final held at the Merced County Office of Education offices in Merced. Photo: Steve Newvine

One by one, thirty-four junior high school students from all over Merced County wrote down the words as they were read out loud by the wordmaster.

“Twang,” she pronounced in front of the students who had gathered at the Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) conference room on December 6.

The wordmaster then used the word in a sentence, read the word in front of a microphone again, and instructed the students to go to work.

Unlike the spelling bees we see on television, the students did not have to spell the word out loud.

These students wrote the words in legible pencil. A proctor was assigned to each table of spellers.

When time was up, the proctor would raise his or her pencil signaling their assigned table had completed the task.

 A proctor was assigned to each table of spellers at the Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee. Photo: Steve Newvine

A proctor was assigned to each table of spellers at the Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee. Photo: Steve Newvine

As time ticked away, students were eliminated.

“I see many of the same students win year after year and even some from the same families,” says Stacey Arancibia who organizes the Bee as part of her role as Events Planner for MCOE.

“Our third place winner has won before and her brother earned second place in the Elementary Bee held December fifth.”

Some might think spelling is no longer a necessary skill in this day and age of computer spell checks, but that is not the case here.

Spelling is a big thing in Merced County, and an even bigger thing in the state of California.

The state competition allows two students from each county to attend the California State Junior High Spelling Bee in May.

The first and second place winners will represent the County at the statewide event to be held in San Rafael.

 Trophies and certificates were awarded to the top finishers at the Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee. Photo: Steve Newvine

Trophies and certificates were awarded to the top finishers at the Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee. Photo: Steve Newvine

While this Junior High competition started out with relatively easy words such as twang, things started getting tight as the words became more complex.

Within one hour, the large group was pared down to about a dozen top spellers. Anxious parents sat in the audience with pride that their children had done their best.

Soon, it was down to just a handful of students.

When Nicole Nguyen correctly spelled phyllophagous, the competition was over. Nicole is the top Junior High speller in Merced County.

 Junior High Spelling Bee Wordmaster Audry Garza, a coordinator at MCOE, poses with third place winner Samika Judge, first place winner Nicole Nguyen and second place winner Luke Almeada. Photo: Nate Gnomes, Merced County Office of Education

Junior High Spelling Bee Wordmaster Audry Garza, a coordinator at MCOE, poses with third place winner Samika Judge, first place winner Nicole Nguyen and second place winner Luke Almeada. Photo: Nate Gnomes, Merced County Office of Education

This year’s winners in the Junior-High Bee were:

  • 1st Nicole Nguyen, Cruickshank
  • 2nd Luke Almeada, Cruickshank
  • 3rd Samika Judge, Los Banos Jr High

Each winner received a certificate and a trophy.

The Elementary competition was held the day before at Atwater Valley Community School. Ninety-four spellers took part in that bee.

Just like the Junior High contest, the top two finishers will compete statewide in May.

The statewide event will be held in Stockton.

The winners in the Elementary Bee were:

  • 1st Harneet Sandhu, Los Banos
  • 2nd Arvin Judge, Los Banos
  • 3rd Mariah Dhillon, Winton

The state program these winners will be competing in is not affiliated with the Scripps National Spelling Bee that most people are familiar with.

“Our numbers are increasing,”Stacey says. “Which is always a great thing.”

 Merced County Elementary Spelling Bee winners Mariah Dhillon took third place, Arvin Judge took second place and Harneet Sandhu took the top spot. Photo: Nate Gnomes, Merced County Office of Education

Merced County Elementary Spelling Bee winners Mariah Dhillon took third place, Arvin Judge took second place and Harneet Sandhu took the top spot. Photo: Nate Gnomes, Merced County Office of Education

In case you’re wondering, phyllophagous as defined by my family’s American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as an adjective meaning “feeding on leaves”.

I looked it up.

And for whatever it’s worth, my computer incorrectly flags this spelling with a red line meaning it is either not in the computer’s dictionary or it is misspelled.

It is not misspelled.

Don’t ask me, ask Nicole. Her correct spelling of that word makes her Merced County’s top Junior High speller.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

He has written Stand By, Camera One available from Lulu.com

Excerpt from Stand By, Camera One

From my college graduation in 1979 until the end of October in 1980, I was on an adventure that set the stage for my adult life.

 My first job out of college was news reporter for station WICZ-TV in Binghamton, NY. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

My first job out of college was news reporter for station WICZ-TV in Binghamton, NY. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

My new book is called Stand By, Camera One- Love, Friendship, and Local TV News in 1980.

It’s the true story of my first job as a television news reporter for a station in Binghamton, New York.

But it’s also about getting engaged, getting married, meeting a special person who taught me the game of chess, and hopefully a slice of what life was like nearly forty years ago. Here’s an excerpt:

I walked into the lobby of WICZ-TV, channel forty, shortly before noon on May 21, 1979. I told the receptionist who I was and she called the newsroom. Two minutes later, Mark Williams greeted me. We walked through the studio and made our way to the small newsroom.

From there, Mark turned up the sound of a twelve-inch black and white television set that rested on top of a four-drawer filing cabinet. The noon newscast from competitor WBNG-TV channel twelve was just coming on the air.

Mark watched the first segment of the newscast with a pen and pad in his hands to jot down any story subjects that he felt might be worth following up on for that night’s six o’clock news.

I had seen this newsroom before during my job interview. It had three large metal desks with chairs, a four-by-six foot work table, the four-drawer filing cabinet, and a small typewriter stand behind the news director’s desk.

A police scanner was picking up calls on the various radio frequencies tuned into the device. Each desk had a Smith-Corona electric typewriter.

Some of my classmates in college had similar models. The typewriter’s had removable cartridges for typewriter ribbon. The news director’s desk sat at the far end of the newsroom. My desk would be in the middle.

The last desk was for the part time reporter who was covering news in the morning. It would eventually become the desk for the next full time person hired to work in the news department. Missing from what looked like an ordinary television newsroom in the late 1970s small market station was the presence of a teletype machine.

The news budget was so small at WICZ, the station did not subscribe to a wire service like Associated Press or United Press International.

The “tick-tick” sound of a press wire was common in most broadcast stations. That would not be the case here.

 This picture was taken shortly after I started my television news job in Binghamton. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

This picture was taken shortly after I started my television news job in Binghamton. Photo: Newvine Personal Collection

WICZ programmed a half-hour of local news Monday-Friday at six and eleven PM. The station also did two five-minute newscasts that ran during the local breaks of NBC’s Today Show at 7:25 and 8:25 AM.

While we did not talk about it either in my job interview or even now on my first day, the station hoped to program news seven-days a week sometime in the future.

At about ten minutes after twelve o’clock, Mark turned the television set volume down, grabbed his keys, and tested the beeper attached to the side of his belt.

“Come on,” he said with a smile. “Let’s go to lunch.”

We headed to a nice restaurant in the Vestal Plaza and enjoyed a buffet lunch.

When he hired me, Mark said to plan on lunch with him on the first day.

It was his way of getting our working relationship off to a good start. When the check arrived, I reached for my wallet only to be told by Mark. “This one’s on me.”

 My eleventh book is called Stand By, Camera One

My eleventh book is called Stand By, Camera One

I spent the rest of the afternoon meeting the staff at channel forty. I was shown my desk and given what amounted to an employee orientation. Mark reviewed the union contract.

My job was classified as an announcer in the union contract between WICZ-TV and the National Association of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians (NABET).

I would eventually get my union card. It was my second card as I had to join a meat-cutters union for a part-time grocery store job I held when I was going to college.

It came as no surprise that I would be going on the air that night. Orientation was nice, but baptism by fire was the only way to learn in a small market television station.

From my desk in the newsroom, I started preparing a three-minute sports report. With all the journalism training I had at Herkimer College and Syracuse University, I never did anything in the sports reporting arena.

This was the local news business, and we were ready to jump in and go to work. There’s a recording in my personal archives of my first broadcast on local television.

Mark Williams anchored the station’s newscast as well as served as news director. He introduced me to the viewers.

“We welcome Steve Newvine to the Eyewitness News team. Steve has lived upstate all his life and recently graduated from Syracuse. Steve, welcome to the Triple Cities.”

I thanked Mark, and began to read a short sports report and an even shorter weather forecast.

Behind the studio wall, the newscast director, Rich Krolak was working the six o’clock newscast. The director controls all the video and audio components that go into a television production.

He or she calls for a specific camera shot, a particular source of audio to be opened, or a video tape to be played. In bigger markets, the director would work with a technical director who would run the video switcher that allows takes from one camera to another.

camera 3D.png

At WICZ, both roles were handled by the director using dialogue that would sound a little like this: “Stand-by camera one. Take one, ready two. Take two, stand by tape, in three-two-one. Take tape.”

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

His new book Stand By, Camera One is available at Lulu.com

Veterans Memorial Signs Pay Tribute to Merced’s Heroes

Signs Along Veterans Boulevard Call Out 80 Military Killed in Action

 Signs Along Veterans Boulevard Call Out 80 Military Killed in Action. Photo by Steve Newvine.

Signs Along Veterans Boulevard Call Out 80 Military Killed in Action. Photo by Steve Newvine.

Chances are family members of US Army Private Cornelius W. Tuyn are no longer in our community.

The same can be likely said for US Army Mechanic John R. Veary.

Both lived in Merced. Both lost their lives in World War I.

Thanks to the City of Merced, both are being remembered.

Chronologically, they are the first veterans to be honored in the City of Merced’s Memorial Plaque initiative.

*By Veterans Day on November 11, eighty signs will be lining a broad section of M Street in the City of Merced.

 One of eighty memorial signs honoring veterans who lost their lives in US military service. Each sign names a service member from the City of Merced who was killed in action. Photo- Steve Newvine.

One of eighty memorial signs honoring veterans who lost their lives in US military service. Each sign names a service member from the City of Merced who was killed in action. Photo- Steve Newvine.

Among the men whose names appear on the signs is US Navy Corporal Robert M. Crowell who lost his life in World War II.

He was born in the same month that Private Tuyn was killed during World War I: October 1918. Crowell who served in the US Navy, died on July 2, 1944.

The signs are memorials to members of the armed services killed in action who were from the City of Merced. The memorials cover service members from World War I on up to the war in Afghanistan.

The signs have white lettering over a blue background. Individually, they recognize a soldier, his rank, branch of service, and years served.

Collectively, they make a very strong statement as to how our community shows respect to those who gave their lives defending our country.

“They are all from the City of Merced and all members who died in combat zones,” says Mike Conway, the City of Merced Information Officer.

 These white on blue signs are on utility poles up and down M Street. Each one recognizes the service of a soldier from the City of Merced. Photo: Steve Newvine

These white on blue signs are on utility poles up and down M Street. Each one recognizes the service of a soldier from the City of Merced. Photo: Steve Newvine

Army Private Tuyn and Mechanic Veary are the only two Merced residents known to be killed in action during World War I.

Thirty-seven of the eighty soldiers memorialized on the signs served in World War II. The signs include the names of thirteen soldiers killed in the Korean War, twenty-one from the Vietnam War, and four from Operation Iraqi Freedom through the war in Afghanistan.

Among the Korean veterans is US Air Force Captain Ralph A. Ellis, Junior. Captain Ellis died on July 21, 1950.

The memorial to fallen veterans was a natural next step in the City of Merced’s journey to pay tribute for the contributions of all who have served in the military.

In recent years, Merced City Council renamed the bridge on M Street spanning Bear Creek to Veterans Memorial Bridge.

A section of M Street near the bridge now carries the name Veterans Boulevard.

In the most recent stage of renovation for the bridge, five flag poles were installed representing each of the five branches of the Armed Forces.

Flags from those branches of the military will now be flown on the bridge during special occasions and at other times to honor veterans.

 Part of the list naming the eighty soldiers from Merced who were killed in action in our nation’s wars. Photo: Steve Newvine

Part of the list naming the eighty soldiers from Merced who were killed in action in our nation’s wars. Photo: Steve Newvine

The City’s Department of Public Works has been posting the new signs along M Street.

Of the twenty-one soldiers listed among the veterans who died in action in Vietnam, five were Marines.

That list includes Lance Corporal Juan B. Valtierra who was killed on January 5, 1966.

It’s an ambitious undertaking, and it will be an ongoing task to find, verify, and post memorials to other City of Merced veterans who may not be on the current list.

“We don’t believe it is a complete list,”Mike Conway says.“We are seeking the public’s help in making it complete.”

The city staff has started this project with the names of 80 military personnel from the City who have died while serving during combat.

One complication is limited records on World War I Veterans.

That is why Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz says her team needs help from the community.

“If your loved one was a City resident who died in battle and is not on this list, please let us know.”

The current list of the eighty City residents being memorialized is posted at www.cityofmerced.org/veterans.

The most recent death memorialized on the signs is US Army Private First Class Luca C. Hopper. Private Hopper died on October 30, 2009.

More names will be added as City staff, working with local veterans groups, verifies other City of Merced residents who were killed in action.

More names may be added if there are more deaths of City residents serving in the current war in Afghanistan. The names I chose to use in the column represent four branches of the armed services: Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines.

I selected one from each war America has fought since World War I, and I included two for World War I as there were only two in that category. Hopefully, when we see these signs we remember not only the soldier whose name appears, but all the men and women throughout the country who made the sacrifice.

Soldiers like Army Private Tuyn and Mechanic John R. Veary are remembered today, more than one-hundred years after they were killed in action thanks to this effort by the City of Merced.

We are grateful to these brave men for their service and proud of the sacrifice from all our veterans.**

Steve Newvine lives in Merced

He remembers his Uncle Bill Newvine who served in Vietnam in the book Finding Bill, available at Lulu.com

Making History at the Fossil Discovery Center

Madera County’s museum houses fossils from the 1993 Fairmead Mammoth discovery.

 The Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County. Photo by Steve Newvine

The Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County. Photo by Steve Newvine

Inside the main entrance of the Fossil Discovery Center, the visitor gets a glimpse at a reproduction of a Columbia Mammoth.  That generally drops the jaw of a typical school aged explorer.

“The students are amazed as soon as they walk in through the main entrance,” staff person Dawn Guthrie says.  

We’ve been reading and hearing a lot about the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County.  

The organization is in the middle of a big project with three Madera County Rotary clubs to restore the former Mammoth Orange stand to a site on the Center grounds.  

The Orange Mammoth stand restoration is drawing attention to the Center’s work of supporting and promoting paleontology.  The Center was built in the years following the discovery of mammoth fossils at the site of the Fairmead landfill. The landfill is across the road from the museum entrance.

The San Joaquin Paleontology Foundation was formed in 1993 shortly after the mammoth fossils and others from the Pleistocene era were discovered.  Support from the Madera County Board of Supervisors and grants made the construction of the facility possible.

Since opening in 2010 the Center has hosted an estimated ten-thousand students annually who come in buses from area schools.  

 Executive Director Michele Picina looks at some of the exhibits at the Fossil Discovery Center. Photo: Steve Newvine

Executive Director Michele Picina looks at some of the exhibits at the Fossil Discovery Center. Photo: Steve Newvine

The Center’s Executive Director Michele Picina is a retired school principal from the Madera Unified School District.  

She’s always had an interest in archaeology, so when the opportunity to serve the Center came her way, she jumped at the chance.

“The Center is devoted to paleontology,” she told me this summer.  “I believed this would be the closest I could get to archaeology so this has been a real adventure for me.”

The Center gets visitors from all over California, with most of the school student patrons coming from Madera, Merced, and Fresno Counties.  

“But our reach goes beyond those three counties,” says Dawn who sets up the tours with area schools.  “We get Turlock, Bakersfield, Stockton and several other cities making plans to bring school buses with students to the Center.”

 A Fossil Discovery Center volunteer shows an exhibit to a visitor. Photo: Steve Newvine)

A Fossil Discovery Center volunteer shows an exhibit to a visitor. Photo: Steve Newvine)

A typical school tour divides the class into four sections.  Each section is assigned a docent and a portion of the Center.  

The sections rotate so that every student sees everything the Center has to offer with no one feeling as though they are lost in the crowd.

Students view where fossils are brought in for examination by paleontologists.  As anyone with a passing interest in the physical sciences knows, this work requires time and patience.  

The Center is helped by volunteers; many of them have a background in paleontology.

 Many of the fossils discovered in the Fairmead landfill site are stored behind these locked cases. Photo: Steve Newvine

Many of the fossils discovered in the Fairmead landfill site are stored behind these locked cases. Photo: Steve Newvine

In another section, a visitor can see some of the fossils that have been recovered from the Fairmead landfill site.  

More than fifteen-thousand fossils from the site have been found since the first discovery in 1993. Fossils from the Fairmead discovery site are locked behind glass cases.  Those exhibits are considered fragile and best handled by experts.

 Behind the main building, the Center has a dining area, and two unique outdoor exhibits: a Yokuts house and a Water Resource Exhibit. Photo: Steve Newvine

Behind the main building, the Center has a dining area, and two unique outdoor exhibits: a Yokuts house and a Water Resource Exhibit. Photo: Steve Newvine

There are plenty of things to see and explore outside the Center building.  Behind the building is the Pleistocene Water Resource Exhibit.

The exhibit is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Wildlife Habitat.  

It presents a scaled down experience of what the terrain in this part of the Central Valley might have looked like in the Pleistocene era.

There is a re-creation of a Yokut house near the Water Resource Exhibit.  Valley Yokuts were the largest Native American tribe in California with an estimated sixty-thousand living in the region.

A house like this one is made from fourteen thousand tules and would take approximately one-hundred-twenty-five hours to build.

On the side of the Center is a simulated archaeology dig site where children can try a special kind of hands-on science.  The digs allow students to experience what the real scientists experience in the field.

 The Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County. Photo: Steve Newvine

The Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County. Photo: Steve Newvine

Over the years, the Center has added new features to enhance the visitor experience.  A recent partnership brought in a display that explores water in the San Joaquin Valley.   

The Center also has a strategic alliance with the Sierra Mono Museum in North Fork, Madera County.

The Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County was founded as a natural next step for the San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation.  

“There was such diversity of life here in the region during that era,” Michele says. “Sloths, camels, llama, elephants, and horses were all common here.”  

And don’t forget the mammoths.

Columbia mammoths define the discovery of the first bones in the Fairmead landfill site from 1993.  

So popular was that discovery that the orange stand on highway 99 was named the Mammoth Orange hamburger stand.  

 From the front entrance of the Fossil Discovery Center, a visitor can see the Fairmead landfill where the first Columbia Mammoth bones were discovered in 1993. Photo: Steve Newvine

From the front entrance of the Fossil Discovery Center, a visitor can see the Fairmead landfill where the first Columbia Mammoth bones were discovered in 1993. Photo: Steve Newvine

The Fairmead area embraced the mammoth discovery back in the 1990s, and the Center is doing everything it can to maximize the connection between that discovery and the future of the facility.  

The Foundation would like to see steady increases in the numbers of school trips to the Center, and more visitors from throughout California.

The Center recently hosted Madera County teachers for a reception to kick off the new school year and to showcase the offerings.  The facility is available as a meeting and conference space to the public.

Expansion is always a possibility if the demand for more visitor space grows and financial support increases.  The Center is positioned as a community resource.

So if you haven’t experienced seeing the wide eyes of a child brighten up to the sight of a life-sized mammoth skeleton reproduction, come and see it yourself.  

You will see why the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County is making history in the Central Valley.

 For more information on the Fossil Discovery Center:

go to MaderaMammoths.org

Or call 559-665-7107.

Join the Center for Fossil Fest on October 20.  Free admission and a free pumpkin for the first 100 families.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

Mammoths and a giant orange stand- A “marriage of terms”

A fund-raising effort has been going on just south of the Merced County border to restore the giant orange juice stand that once stood off highway 99 at Fairmead.

 A vintage photograph of the locally famous Fairmead Orange Stand on Highway 99.  The stand closed about ten years ago. Photo: GoFundMe.com/mammothorange

A vintage photograph of the locally famous Fairmead Orange Stand on Highway 99.  The stand closed about ten years ago. Photo: GoFundMe.com/mammothorange

There was a time back in the 1950s and 60s when giant orange refreshment stands were a common site on California roads.

Oranges were a much bigger piece of California agriculture back in those days. 

The stands sold orange juice and other drinks along with hamburgers and hot dogs to people traveling throughout the state. 

Over time, orange juice was frequently replaced by soft drinks and milkshakes as consumer tastes shifted.

The orange stands were places where a motorist could stop, use the facilities, and enjoy a hamburger and an orange flavored beverage outdoors in the California sun.  

Families could rest at picnic tables under the outdoor canopy and watch the traffic pass by.

The stands disappeared as air conditioning and highway expansion became commonplace. 

 This is what the people restoring the giant orange stand are facing with the project.  The stand is not in great shape now, but will be brought back to its former presence.  Photo by Steve Newvine

This is what the people restoring the giant orange stand are facing with the project.  The stand is not in great shape now, but will be brought back to its former presence.  Photo by Steve Newvine

The last orange stand in the state was in Fairmead, Madera County. 

It closed a decade ago.  The stand was moved to storage in the City of Chowchilla.  Six years ago,   it was sold so that the non-profit organization that runs the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County could help organize an effort to restore it.

Enter the three Rotary clubs in Madera and Chowchilla who adopted this restoration project. 

The clubs have raised over $15,000 so far and continue to solicit funds through a Go Fund Me campaign and other efforts.  

Additional donations are coming in as well in a separate campaign being run by the Fossil Discovery Center.

Little by little, the restoration project is moving forward.

 The restoration project is a collaboration project among the Madera Sunrise Rotary, Chowchilla Rotary, and Madera Rotary clubs.  Photo: GoFundMe.com/mammothorange

The restoration project is a collaboration project among the Madera Sunrise Rotary, Chowchilla Rotary, and Madera Rotary clubs.  Photo: GoFundMe.com/mammothorange

“This was the vision of the late Lori Pond, a member of our board and a passionate supporter of the Center and of local history,” says Fossil Center director Michele Pecina.  “She made the appeal to the City of Chowchilla to acquire the orange stand.”

According to local media accounts from that time, the Foundation paid $2,050 to the City of Chowchilla for the stand. The City got some storage space back.  

The Foundation got the centerpiece of a new era for the Fossil Center.

A 2012 story on the Sierra News Online site, Lori spoke of requests to Caltrans to rename the road between highway 99 and the Center entrance to Mammoth Parkway, and the reserving of the web address MammothOrange.com for future use.

The Fossil Center was founded in the years following the discovery of Columbia Mammoth bones at the Fairmead landfill in 1993.  The San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation was formed shortly after the discovery.   The Foundation received official non-profit status in 2001.  The organization oversaw the building of the Fossil Center.  

Today more than ten thousand people, mostly school-aged children coming for field trips, visit the Center.

  This is the inside of the former Fairmead Orange Stand.  It’s very clear that the team working on this restoration have a big job on their hands.  Photo: Steve Newvine

 This is the inside of the former Fairmead Orange Stand.  It’s very clear that the team working on this restoration have a big job on their hands.  Photo: Steve Newvine

It’s fair to ask what is the connection is between the Fossil Discovery Center and the restoration of the giant orange stand.

Michele, who spells her first name with just one “L”, can explain that connection.  

“This will be a marriage of terms.  The Mammoth Orange Stand will sit at the site near where the Columbia Mammoth bones were found right here in Fairmead.”

The Fossil Discovery Center is located off the Avenue 21-and- a- half exit in Fairmead west of highway 99. From the Center’s location, the visitor can see the Fairmead landfill where the Columbia Mammoth bones were first discovered.

 Center director Michele Pecina shows the round work that has already started for the Mammoth Orange Stand at the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County.  Photo by Steve Newvine

Center director Michele Pecina shows the round work that has already started for the Mammoth Orange Stand at the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County.  Photo by Steve Newvine

Building permits have been acquired, and ground work is already underway.  It is hoped the stand will be ready for use in 2019.  Once the restoration is complete, the Orange stand will be a permanent exhibit.

Michele says, “Food events will be celebrated during the opening and year round.”

Initially, the stand will be used for private food events with the Center considering whether it makes sense to turn it into a regular refreshment stop for visitors.  The Mammoth Orange Stand at the Fossil Discovery Center will offer an exciting new opportunity for the region.

All these goals will come in time according to Michele. 

“We will eventually move to have the state consider designating the stand as a historical landmark.”

The Fairmead Orange Stand was the last of the California big orange stands to close.    

If all goes as planned, the Mammoth Orange Stand at the Fossil Discovery Center in Chowchilla will be the first one to come back in service.

With that eventual opening day coming up in about a year, one might work up a thirst for a cold cup of orange soda over ice or some other beverage.

It’s possible too that one might get a chance to relive a sentimental moment from the past.  The restoration may help one return to a simpler time when a stop at a roadside orange stand was commonplace in California.  

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.  

He has written California Back Roads- Stories from the Land of the Palm and the Pine.  It is available at Lulu.com.

A column about the Fossil Discovery Center will be published on MercedCountyEvents.com in the near future.

To learn more about the Fossil Discovery Center, go to www.maderamammoths.org

To consider supporting the fund drive to restore the Mammoth Orange Stand, go to GoFundMe.com/mammothorange