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Manteca High bell tower may ring again
A rendering that graced post cards sold in Manteca that depicted the bell tower that served as an icon for the campus as well as the community. - photo by Photo Contributed

Manteca High’s beloved bell tower may be making a comeback.

Manteca Unified School District officials are kicking around the idea of including a replica bell tower similar to the one that was torn down on October 3, 1969 as part of modernization plans for Manteca High.

Manteca High’s redo is part of the third wave of Measure G bond projects.

Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke indicated the possibility is being considered adding whatever the final design for Manteca High renovations are cost will be a factor in deciding if a bell tower will be included.

The district wants to make the oldest high school in the district not only functional as a modern campus but to do so while improving safety, enhancing traffic flow and protecting the historic significance of the campus.

To that end, if a bell tower pencils out financially, you could see it rise from near where the original once stood near today’s Dorothy Mulvihill Performing Arts Building.

And while final plans are perhaps two years away, Burke said including a bell tower will be considered.

He credits Aaron Bowers, the district’s director of construction management, for advancing the idea.

To show how deep the bell tower goes in Manteca High alumni psyches, Bowers wasn’t even born when the tower came down due to earthquake safety issues. Bowers is a Manteca High graduate who understands how important the tower was to alumni that graduated before him. Even 46 years later there are those still mourning the loss of the Manteca icon. It even inspired the name of the school’s yearbook, 

“The Tower.”

It came down in 1969 much to the chagrin of what seemed like the entire community at the time.

A “Save the Tower” committee was formed and garnered massive support but the school board deemed that since the state declared it unsafe and it was a 48-year-old structure dating back to 1921, it wasn’t worth the effort to make it pass earthquake standards for schools. 

The tower proved tough to demolish. Crews snapped two cables and then were unsuccessful trying to knock it down with a massive Caterpillar tractor. Finally they had to bring in a wrecking ball.

The strong emotional ties many in Manteca had to the bell tower at the high school prompted Poag & McEwen to incorporate a similar looking bell tower in the design of The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley in a bid to give the retail center more of a Manteca feel.

Tracy kept their bell tower intact by reinforcing it and including in a modernization of the Tracy High campus a few years back.

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Council heralds from ‘new’ Manteca

It looked like musical chairs during Tuesday’s Manteca City Council as a different councilman on three different back-to-back votes had to recluse themselves during the meeting due to a conflict based on where they reside.

Richard Silverman, Vince Hernandez and Mike Morowit live in different landscape maintenance districts of which the council was calling for the annual reassessment of charges to property owners. While council member Debby Moorhead was absent and the LMD she resides within was not before the council, she too would have had to recluse herself if that district has been up for a vote.

It marks the first time ever the majority of the City Council lives in a LMD. The city’s use of the districts to pay for common landscaping dates back to the late-1990s. The newer districts, such as the one that Morowit resides in that is part of the Union Ranch neighborhood, also covers park and street light maintenance costs as well.

Mayor Steve DeBrum, who resides on Austin Road in a quasi-rural section of the city, is the only elected official not living in a LMD.

That means four-fifths of the council lives in neighborhoods built in the last 16 years where roughly 20,000 of the city’s 73,000 residents reside.

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No validity to Going Digital teacher story

There is a whispering campaign with a bit of help from social media that is making the rounds that Manteca Unified School District has placed a teacher on administrative leave pending an outcome of an investigation of inappropriate personal images she had placed on her school issued device.

In a nutshell it’s not exactly true. An incident did happen but it did not involve any school devices or those issued with the Going Digital project.

Superintendent Jason Messer confirmed there was an incident involving a teacher but the inappropriate photos were on her personal computer.