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April 1, 2009 > History: Fremont's third birthday

History: Fremont's third birthday

The News Register published an anniversary issue of the paper January 22, 1959, in celebration of the City of Fremont's third birthday. The front page featured photos of Mayor M. J. Overacker, Vice-Mayor Winifred H. Bendel and Councilmen Wallace R. Pond, Kenneth Steadman and Rollin Cunningham.

Mayor Overacker thanked those whose hands helped the city develop during those first three years and urged everyone to be part of the city's future. He noted the progress evidenced by many subdivisions, new schools, street improvements and commercial development. The rest of the paper detailed the city's accomplishments.

Joseph Rodrigues, Jr. was hired as a maintenance man and Warren Gonnason employed to head the Public Works Department in 1956. There were now 14 full-time employees in the department, 127 miles of city streets and 13.5 miles of completed Nimitz Freeway. The number of street lights had grown from 588 upon incorporation to 1,350. The Department had overseen the addition of 8 miles of streets and checked 1,395 lots in 21 subdivisions. A set of city maps had been acquired by aerial photography. Widening of Blacow Road and Mowry Avenue to four lanes was planned and improvements to Central Avenue, Baine Avenue and Niles Boulevard completed.

The report included a photo of city hall staff members including: Louis Shepard, Don Driggs, Howard Reese, Earlene Maloney, Helen von Brethorst, Warren Harrison, Robert Johnston, Warren Gonnason, Wilbert Blair, Walter Woodward, Wesley Andrews, Daniel McEvilly, Laura Lee Mozzetti, Howard Mardis, Charles Hinkley, Virginia Marcotte, Donald Teter, Joe Rodrigues, Jr., Jay Thatcher, Milton Sands, Patricia Ball, Florence Reynolds, Dorothy Brooks, Elaine Bushnell, Roy Potter, Richard McMurphy, Cal Holland, and Edward Bryant.

Howard Reese, City Manager, provided a report that showed the city staff had grown from 8 in 1956 to 77. City revenues had grown to over $330,000.

The Police Department was the city's youngest but also its largest division. There were now 28 people including Chief Richard E. Condon and his aide Lt. Lowell Creighton. There were three sergeants, two investigators, one juvenile officer, two clerks and 18 patrolmen.

The Fremont Fire Department had grown to 19 firemen and 85 volunteers under the leadership of Chief Frank Madruga. There were five fire stations and a variety of fire trucks.

The Community Recreation Department was only 1 1/2 years old but was operating neighborhood area programs at 14 schools, six municipal sports programs, three summer activities and a social dance program. Some 25 part time leaders and assistants were hired to direct the programs. Don Driggs headed the department until he became Assistant City Manager.

The Fremont Recreation Commission and the City Beautiful Committee worked with the Recreation Department. The City of Fremont leased Irvington Plaza and moved to secure the historic Vallejo Mill site as a wayside rest-park area and historical landmark. "A start on municipal parks and beauty spots" was made with the dedication of the small United Nations Day plaza on Washington Boulevard. Four Neighborhood School-Parks were planned to open by summer.

Probably the most dramatic event of 1958 was the dedication of Washington Township Hospital. A photo showed nearly 100 nurses repeating their dedication oath. Over 100 babies had been delivered at the hospital since it opened November 24.

Another big event in 1958 was the completion of the Nimitz Freeway. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz officiated at the opening, assisted by Fremont Vice-Mayor Winifred Bendel and Newark Mayor Clark Redeker. A related photo showed the Jarvis Road interchange with new homes of Cabrillo Park in the background.

Other signs of growth included completion of the new Fremont Post Office at Centerville, and the Mother House for the Sisters of the Holy Family in Mission San Jose as well as groundbreaking for the FAA air control center in Centerville.

Mayor M. J. Overacker closed his message by saying "Now is the time to look ahead and do our best to build Fremont into the finest community in California."

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