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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Medford News 1953


Top Local News Stories of 1953
Rated by Mail Tribune Staff Members
Lester Hurley Death, Investigation Given No. 1 Spot for Year
    The story of the death of Lester Hurley and the resulting investigations, grand jury recommendation, and changes in the Medford city police department was the top local story of 1953, in the opinion of Mail Tribune news staff writers.
    The story was given a total of 79 out of a possible 80 points and was rated first on all but one ballot, receiving a second-place vote on that one.
    The story of Lester W. Hurley, a 62-year-old disabled Navy veteran living at Camp White, started in July when he died in the Camp White infirmary after spending 41 hours in the Medford city jail without medical attention.
Changes Recommended, Champlin Named Chief
    It continued through investigations by the district attorney and the grand jury, which recommended changes in the city police department administration, to an investigation by Howard Bobbitt, Portland attorney and former FBI man. Following submission of Bobbitt's report, the city council appointed Clatous McCredie, police chief for 27 years, as assistant city superintendent, and named Lt. Charles Champlin as police chief.
    Second on the "story of the year" list was new highway projects in Jackson County. These include completion of a new four-lane highway between Medford and Ashland, start of work on the Jacksonville Hill highway, completion of the Gold Hill bypass on Highway 99, and awarding of contracts for four-lane highway between Medford and Central Point and the Blackwell Hill bypass. It [i.e., the story] received a total of 55 votes.
    Third on the list was a story most of which occurred thousands of miles from the Rogue Valley. It was the story of Dick Applegate, former Medford resident and one-time Mail Tribune staff member, who was taken prisoner by Chinese communists as he left Hong Kong on what he had hoped would be the fulfillment of a life's ambition--a trip around the world on his own yacht. Applegate is still being held in a communist prison. That story received 50 points.
    Close behind was the story of weather control operations in the Rogue Valley, which received 49 points. It included Sunshine, Inc. fog dispersal, hail prevention, cloud seeding to bring about more snowfall and Moisture Conservation League studies in rainmaking projects.
    The fifth-place story, which received 34 points, was the damaging floods which hit the Rogue and Applegate valleys during the year. Sixth with 31 points was the start of television in southern Oregon.
Tie for Eighth
    Seven[th], with 24 points, was completion of numerous projects at the Medford municipal airport and dedication of the new union terminal building. Tied for eight, with 17 points each, were invalidation of many mining claims in the Prospect-Union Creek area and Jackson County's record-breaking low forest fire season.
    Tenth was announcement of plans and approval of a $1,600,000 bond issue for construction of two new Medford public schools.
    Other top stories which received consideration were the return of three Rogue Valley prisoners of war from Korean POW camps, numerous large property sales in the Camp White area and other parts of Jackson County, disputes over construction of an east side fire station in Medford, start of liquor by the glass sales, sale of Front Street property to the First National Bank of Portland and to a group of Medford businessmen, the large number of outstanding speakers who visited the Medford area, 13 conventions which attracted 13,000 people to Medford during the year, start of the Jackson County Child Guidance Clinic Association, expansion of county soil conservation districts, and an increase in local employment.
    Here is a month-by-month summary of the more important local news events of 1953, as taken from the pages of The Mail Tribune.
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JANUARY
    Mayor Flynn lists "high priority" city projects for 1953 including charter revisions, new east side fire station, selection of citizens' committee to work with council on problems such as street and parking meters . . . Weather Central Inc. pilots disperse fog over Medford airport . . . New District Attorney Walter Nunley explains gambling law enforcement policies to area officers . . . Elkon Bregman and Associates purchase major properties of White City Lumber Company and Southern Oregon Sugar Pine Corporation in deal involving several million dollars . . . Howard Lemuel Champ receives life prison term for 1952 fatal stabbing . . . District Attorney Walter Nunley classifies gambling as crime against morality . . . Petitions circulated for formation of 350,000-acre Jackson County Soil Conservation District . . . Civil Aeronautics Board examiner approves United Air Lines' proposal to serve Medford and Klamath Falls on same flight . . . Damaging flood hits Rogue Valley; five men rescued from flood-swollen Applegate River . . . Medford Attorney Edward C. Kelly challenges District Attorney Walter Nunley's stand on gambling as "untenable" . . . Plans announced for circulation of petitions asking for bond election on construction of $800,000 county memorial auditorium.
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FEBRUARY
    Construction of multiple purpose field house proposed by group of Medford citizens as alternative plan to civic auditorium . . . Jackson County's population estimated at 63,000 by state board of health . . . Dee Stockton and Donald Yule acquitted of assault with dangerous weapon charge after six-day trial; co-defendant Monte Stockton fails to appear for trial and forfeits $2,000 bond . . . Albert Hubbard and James R. Ackley, both of Medford, die with third man in earthslide at Toketee Falls . . . Chester Lee Dodson, wanted since August 1951 on charge of assault with intent to kill against Medford police officer, apprehended in Montana . . . 100,000th visitor reported at Jacksonville museum . . .Carl Y. Tengwald, prominent Medford insurance man, dies suddenly . . . Medford City Recorder Ralph Woodford dies . . . A. E. Brockway elected chairman of Jackson County Agricultural Council.
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MARCH
    Steve Nye named president of Oregon state International Relations League . . . Medford Attorney Frank Van Dyke retires from state board of higher education . . . Columnist Dorothy Thompson visits Medford . . . Federal Communications Commission grants permit for construction of television station on Blackwell Hill . . . Federal government ends plans to reactivate Camp White as military installation . . . Medford American Legion post wins national contest for an encouraging voter registration . . . Secretary of Interior Douglas McKay reports planning for Rogue basin has top priority . . . Total of 123 cases of communicable diseases, highest of year, reported, including 75 cases of influenza . . . Concentrated effort to obtain weather control legislation asked at Medford meeting . . . State highway commission announces plans for $750,000 highway between Blackwell Hill and Central Point . . . Atomic blasts in Nevada desert seen by Rogue Valley residents . . . Paul Selby elected president of Medford city council . . . Rehabilitation work started on Savage Rapids Dam; overall cost of job estimated at $700,000 . . . Fifteen mining claims in Rogue River national forests invalidated by federal government . . . Correspondent Dick Applegate, formerly of Medford, taken prisoner by Chinese communists near Hong Kong . . . Sheriff's deputies destroy 12 slot machines seized on local raids . . . Commanding general of 41st National Guard division reports funds for Medford armory expected sometime after July 1 . . . Construction started on $20,000 annex to Medford post office building.
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APRIL
    First National Bank purchases property at Main and Front streets from Southern Pacific Railroad for $85,000; tells plans to construct new bank building . . . Jackson County court decides it will no longer make use of authority to make recommendations on liquor license applications . . . Medford center of extensive search for light plane missing with four persons, including two infants, aboard . . . Four-inch snowfall breaks all-time record for Medford as late as April . . . City Superintendent Robert Duff authorized to determine costs of off-street parking for Medford . . . Mrs. Christine Godberson, Medford, observes 101st birthday . . . Jackson County grand jury recommending budgeting of funds for special investigator for district attorney's office . . . Noreen Kelly, Medford, elected president of Oregon Young Democrats organization . . . James Roosevelt speaks in Medford . . . Construction of television station KBES-TV started on Blackwell Hill . . . Eight hundred delegates attend convention of Oregon Congress of Parents and Teachers in Medford . . . Medford city council repeals 17-year-old dog ordinance by vote of 5 to 2 . . . Communist Chinese press reported Medford newsman Dick Applegate, a prisoner of the Reds, struck with an "acute" illness in a Canton jail . . . Contracts signed for sale of three buildings on Front St. signed . . . Human bones found in Butte Falls area believed to be those of William E. Kidder, missing since 1948 . . . Twenty-eight persons injured in Jackson County highway accidents in three-day period.
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MAY
    Acme Construction Company submits low bid of $137,749 on 18 Medford street paving projects . . . Preliminary work started on relocation of 1.23 miles of Jacksonville Hill highway . . . Communist Chinese news agency says Medford newsman Dick Applegate being held in Canton hospital . . . $289,541 tax lien filed on property owned by A. K. Owens, Medford, by federal government. . . Medford city council approves site on Valley View Drive for new east side fire station . . . O&C funds allow 42 percent cut in Jackson County taxes for fiscal 1953-54 . . . Pacific Northwest Shrine Association convention held in Medford . . . Sale of liquor by the glass becomes legal with 11 Medford business places having licenses . . . Formation of 350,000-acre Rogue Soil Conservation District approved by vote of 2168 to 77 . . . California Oregon Power Company makes applications for system-wide rate increase . . . Medford pilots Eugene Kooser and Harvey Brandau report success in experiments with fog dispersal . . . Rural school voters approve $1,065,871 budget . . . Oregon State Laundry Owners Association convention held in Medford . . . William Neal Jr., Medford Civil Air Patrol cadet, named to receive exchange program trip to the Netherlands . . . Portion of cofferdam at Savage Rapids Dam washed out by flooding Rogue River.
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JUNE
    Marine Corps League, National Association of Postal Supervisors and Oregon Grange hold state conventions in Medford . . . Class of 230 seniors graduated from Medford High School . . . Paul A. Hatton, manager of Camp White, transferred to Hot Springs, S.D. . . . Air show, terminal building dedication ceremonies held at Medford municipal airport . . . Marilyn Bohnert, Central Point, one of four Oregon Oregon youths named as winners of trip to national 4-H Club camp in Washington, D.C. . . . Sale of osteopathic hospital and clinic revealed . . . Citizens budget committee complete work on $623,866 fiscal program for city of Medford . . . Habeas corpus writ petition filed in Salem by Gerald T. Macomber, serving life imprisonment from Jackson County on charge of assault with intent to kill . . . Young pears badly bruised by hailstorm west of Medford . . . Mrs. Stephen Nye reelected to Medford school board . . . Miss Neva Samuels elected by city council to serve as city recorder . . . Dr. Harold White named director of Southern Oregon branch experiment station . . . Duane Albert Hall and Raymond Clifford Hodge arrested near Phoenix and held as suspects in Mt. Tamalpais, Calif. murder . . . Eric Allen Jr., city editor of The Mail Tribune, named to receive fellowship at University of Oregon . . . Earl T. Newbry, Ashland, Oregon, secretary of state, announces candidacy for governor in 1954 . . . Eugene K. Ricker appointed manager of Camp White veterans domiciliary center . . . First scheduled flight made between Medford and Klamath Falls.
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JULY
    Historic Barron Ranch near Ashland sold in $316,750 transaction . . . Medford post office takes over new annex facilities on North Holly St. . . . Articles of incorporation filed for new Sams Valley Irrigation Association . . . John Dellenback elected president of United Medford Crusade . . . 82 Medford area Boy Scouts and 13 leaders attend National Jamboree at Santa Ana, Calif. . . . 15-year-old Chuck Mansfield of Grants Pass wins Rogue Valley Soap Box Derby . . . District Attorney Walter Nunley starts investigation of death of Lester Hurley in Medford city jail . . . Bureau of Land Management reports Jackson County to receive $1,176,155 in O&C funds . . . Eugene Thorndike named chairman of Jackson County Red Cross chapter . . . Eleven new election precincts created in Jackson County . . . Medford Marine Leonard Steege reported missing in action in Korea . . . Jackson County grand jury hears testimony in death of Lester Hurley . . . George R. Carter resigns as Jackson County Clerk after 20 years in job . . . Residents of Table Rock Rd., Rogue Valley Heights and Sams Valley areas ask county aid in controlling mosquitoes.
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AUGUST
    Mrs. C. L. Hopkins named Jackson County Clerk, replacing George R. Carter, who resigned . . . Jackson County grand jury recommends that Medford Police Chief Clatous McCredie be replaced; reports on investigation of death of Lester Hurley in city jail . . . Dr. A. E. Merkel, county health officer, recommends fluoridation of Medford water supply . . . City council gives unanimous vote of confidence to Police Chief Clatous McCredie . . . Construction of new Medford-Klamath Falls highway by way of Lake of the Woods proposed by Representative Robert Root . . . Three men escape from Jackson County jail; coastwide search under way . . . Cpl. H. F. Williams, Medford, released from North Korean prisoner of war camp by communists . . . Defense Department reports that Cpl. Phillip Todd, Medford, died in communist prison in North Korea . . . First session of hearings on California Oregon Power Company rate increase request is recessed . . . More than 500 Jackson County youths enter annual 4-H, FFA fair . . . Medford city council votes 6 to 2 to authorize investigation of city police department . . . Circuit Judge Orville Millard issues writ of review in state Air Pollution Authority legal proceedings against Gold Hill asphalt plant . . . Marine Pfc. Leonard Steege released from communist prisoner of war camp in North Korea . . . Dr. M. P. Vogel resigns as Jackson County coroner . . . Jacksonville residents vote down proposed change in city charter by 91 to 65 margin.
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SEPTEMBER
    Fluoridation of Medford water supply debated by experts on both sides of question at Jackson County Chamber of Commerce forum . . . Cpl. Harvey L. Rogers, Medford, released from communist prisoner of war camp in North Korea . . . Dr. Merle Foland named Jackson County coroner succeeding Dr. M. P. Vogel, who resigned . . . Medford city council votes 6 to 0 to authorize plans and specifications for new east side fire station . . . Fire and explosion takes life of Dale E. Harris, worker at White City . . . Violent storm hits Rogue Valley, many forest fires started . . . Unemployment in Jackson County double that of 1952 . . . Jackson County officials subpoenaed in habeas corpus hearing for Gerald Macomber . . . Medford host city for state convention of Gold Star Mothers . . . 3,244 pupils enrolled in four Medford grade schools and junior high school on first day of classes . . . John Jaksch, Gold Hill, and Chester Jensen, Rogue River, tie for county Grassman of the Year honors . . . UN takes up case of Richard Applegate, Medford newsman taken prisoner by communists . . . State convention of Alcoholics Anonymous held in Medford . . . United Medford Crusade campaign gets under way; goal of $101,000 set . . . Senior high school enrollment reaches 801 on second day of classes . . . Moisture Conservation League studies possibility of increasing Rogue Valley rainfall . . . Jackson County property valuation figured at $61,215,310 . . . Fire on Sterling Creek takes two lives; body of one victim unidentified . . . Public hearing held on 800,000 additions to Sams Valley-Beagle Soil Conservation District . . . County reports completing 120 miles of road work, 10 bridges during 1953.
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OCTOBER
    Russell DeForest and Al Bradford named to head Jackson County March of Dimes campaign . . . Second series of hearings ends on California Oregon Power Company request for "across the boards" 20 percent rate increase . . . Valley View Drive residents seek permanent injunction to prevent City of Medford from constructing east side fire station . . . Medford city council receives report on city police prepared by Howard Bobbitt, Portland attorney and former FBI man . . . Medford businessman Walter Leverette found guilty by federal court jury on two counts of income tax evasion . . . Henry A. Thierolf, local lumber firm owner and longtime Medford resident, dies after illness of several months . . . Oregon State Nurses Association convention held in Medford . . . County Superintendent of Schools Alf Mekvold warns action must be taken soon on suspended school districts . . . John B. Wosky, superintendent of Crater Lake National Park, transferred; succeeded by Fred T. Johnston . . . 14-year-old Wayne Gordon Olson dies in hunting accident, first of year in Jackson County . . . Ben Day named county Cattleman of Year . . . Clatous McCredie, Medford police chief for 27 years, named assistant city superintendent; Charles Champlin chosen as police chief . . . Floyd Hart, Medford, named to head survey of Bureau of Land Management . . . Oregon Republican Club holds state convention in Medford . . . Harvest of third largest Rogue Valley pear crop in history completed; sales expected to reach $15,000,000 total . . . Medford's Mayor D. L. Flynn elected vice-president of League of Oregon Cities . . . Portland firm submits low bid on new highway between Medford and Blackwell Hill.
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NOVEMBER
    Mercy Flights Air Ambulance Service carries 200th patient in four-year history of organization . . . Jacksonville voters approve new city charter by vote of 150 to 86 . . . Voters of Medford school district approve $1,600,000 bond issue for construction of new junior high and elementary schools . . . Alice Marie Ozment appears, safe, in Oakland, Calif. after being missing for five days while en route to Texas to be married . . . Jackson County agricultural income for 1953 estimated at $29,964,413 . . . Crowd of 7,500 watches Medford Armistice Day parade; 500 veterans observe day at Camp White . . . Sen. Wayne Morse appears for series of speaking engagements in Jackson County . . . Doreen Bohnert of Central Point named as winner of expense-paid trip to National 4-H Congress in Chicago . . . Governor Paul Patterson featured speaker for Jackson County Chamber of Commerce forum . . . Russell DeForest named Medford city police judge . . . John Robert Lentz, Ashland, veteran of World War II, becomes 5,000th vet admitted to Camp White . . . Large number of mining claims in Union Creek area declared invalid . . . Rogue River goes on rampage after three days of steady rain; damage estimated at more than $75,000 . . . Representatives Walter Norblad, Harris Ellsworth of Oregon and Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota speak in Jackson County . . . Sunshine, Inc. formed to conduct experiment for [fog] dispersal operations in Medford area.
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DECEMBER
    Allen D. Curry named Medford police judge after resignation of Russell DeForest . . . Doreen Bohnert wins $350 national 4-H Club college scholarship . . . Dave B. Lowry, Medford, elected president of Oregon State Horticulture Society . . . Sunshine, Inc. pilots make first fog dispersal flights in Medford area . . . Jackson County employment continues to decline . . . Phoenix mechanic Clifford Burley commits suicide after murdering 3½-year-old daughter . . . Judge Orvil Millard disqualifies himself from hearing Gerald Macomber habeas corpus proceedings . . . Portland firm submits low bids totaling almost $1,000,000 on new highway project between Medford and Gold Hill junction . . . California Oregon Power Company granted 16.21 percent increase in power service rates . . . James G. Armson starts duties as assistant Jackson County juvenile officer . . . Robert Elliott, Medford, tells plans to resign as chairman of Oregon Republican Central Committee . . . Floyd Earl Denno, who escaped Jackson County jail in August, captured in San Diego . . . Plans announced for $300,000 building at Front and Main streets to house First National Bank . . . United Medford Crusade closes first year of operations with collections totaling more than $90,000 . . . Almeria Quinn named executive secretary of Jackson County Red Cross chapter . . . Judge William G. East disqualifies himself from hearing Gerald Macomber habeas corpus proceedings . . . Walter G. Garner elected president of Jackson County Chamber of Commerce . . . State Senator Ben Day of Jackson County announces he will not be a candidate for reelection; Fred Robinson tells plans to seek post . . . Ashland woman killed, three injured in traffic accident south of Ashland.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1954, page 6



Last revised February 20, 2010