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Ripon tiff over 1945 vs. 1874 date on arch sign

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POSTED December 7, 2009 2:44 a.m.

RIPON – Time dating downtown Ripon seemed like the perfect finishing touch for archways that capped an extensive renovation project that replaced nearly all street surfaces with pavers and helped add a retro element to the central district.

But when signs proclaiming that Ripon was incorporated in 1945 – the official date that the town became a city – were installed below the historical archways along Main Street and Stockton Avenue, those active in the Ripon Historical Society were up in arms. They point out the signs cut nearly 75 years from the community’s true beginning.

According to Ripon Historical Society President John Mangelos, the signs “lacked common sense” and the flap could have been avoided if either the elected representatives or city staffers would have turned to those with a working knowledge of the community’s past to determine what the proper date should have been.

“There are countless examples of places that never incorporated, but if you would go there and ask those who live in those communities they’d certainly have a date when they were formed – regardless of whether they are officially a city,” Mangelos said. “One close example to us is Salida - does that mean that just because they never incorporated that they don’t exist? There are a lot of people there that would definitely tell you differently.”

Now that the signs are in place, it’ll take a fair amount of money – something that Ripon is struggling with as it works to bridge a municipal budget deficit  – to change them in order to suit the request of the historical society.

While Mangelos usually attends meetings where historical issues are on the agenda, he said that he had faith in his elected officials to use common sense – focusing instead on using the Dec. 21, 1874 date that records show was the recorded date that Ripon became a community.

Shaving almost 75 years off of that date with the incorporation timeframe from 1945, he said, does a great injustice to a community that prides itself on its historic roots. He noted that he’s in the process of assembling a petition to gauge the concerns of the residents and then turning the petition over to the city council.

Phone calls to city officials on the issue were not returned.

But there’s at least one member of the council that says he’d support changing the signs as long as groups like the Ripon Historical Society would raise the money for the new placards and their installation.

Councilman Garry Krebs said he agreed with those who are upset about the date and would be the first to support changing the signs as long as the money didn’t come from city coffers.

“If John (Mangelos) gets a petition and gets a significant amount of names and could raise the money at the same time, I don’t imagine that there is a single person on this council that would be able to deny such a request,” Krebbs said.

To contact Jason Campbell, e-mail jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com, or call (209) 249-3544.

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