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Ripon police memorial work
Massive granite stones weighing tons put in place
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Matt Simpson of Deegan Memorial Chapel puts the finishing touches of cement below one of three granite memorials to fallen police officers past and future. Watching from left are former Police Chief Red Nutt, First Sergeant Steve Merchant and John Mangelos. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Large granite slabs were lifted into place Monday afternoon as part of the creation of a Ripon Police Department Memorial near the recently restored 1925 vintage jail house and adjacent to the Veterans’ Memorial Museum and its wall of names of those who served.

The police memorial and the jail are the sum total of hundreds of volunteer hours from members of the Ripon community, according to the organizer of the joint effort, John Mangelos.

“We see how the people in Ripon step up to make for a better community,” Mangelos said.  “They don’t just take things for granted.”

Three granite pieces, weighing as much as 17,000 pounds each, were lifted by crane from a flat bed truck following the Veterans’ Day events earlier in the day adjacent to the historic Veterans’ Museum – first a church and later the Ripon City Hall.

The granite works focus on “A Police Officer’s Prayer” and two Ripon officers who died in the line of duty.  First was Sgt. Paul Stevens who died in January of 1972 from a heart attack from exertion in attempting to arrest a suspect.  The second was Robert W. Winget who was patrolling the river banks of the Stanislaus River when the quad he was riding rolled over on top of him on April 10, 2007.

The memorial was created in honor and respect to the officers who gave their lives in the line of duty while protecting and serving the citizens of Ripon, the etching states.

Matt Simpson, managing partner of Deegan Funeral Home, discounted the $13,000 cost of the stone tablets down to $5,000.  He then turned it around and added a donation of $500 to the construction.

The old jail built in 1925 was designed by Stockton architect Ralph P. Morrell and constructed by L. Ubels that the city council paid a total of $2,498 to erect.  It was first located on North Walnut Street at the intersection with the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks.  Rumor has it the jail was moved by rolling it on telephone poles to its new home.

In December of 1957 it was raised off of its foundation and moved to the heart of town some three blocks to the south by C&L House Movers of Ceres for $950.  When the jail was built it was used to hold prisoners for the Ripon Constable John Garrison and for County Sheriff Williams R. Riecks.

The committee for the jail restoration was Mangelos and Harrison Gibbs, a retired water works owner from Turlock who has made his home in Ripon.  It was Gibbs who single handedly took on the tasks of replacing parking space buttons and library parking lot stripes in the downtown during the past year.  He has also replaced many of the missing blue reflectors in the center of the streets that signify where fire hydrants are located throughout the city.

Mangelos said the city approached him and said the 87-year-old jail was falling apart, noting that if nothing was done soon, it was going to crumble away. 

“There was a boat load of people who contributed to the effort,” the longtime Ripon chef added.

Harrison Gibbs spent two weeks chiseling off the loose plaster inside the jail.  There had been a leak in the room that created water damage, Mangalos said.  Rob Burkett from the plastering company of the same name sand blasted the aging walls and ceilings in both the office and in the cells.  Gibbs went through again and loosened the rest with a ball peen hammer, he said.

Bob Armstrong replastered all the walls and resealed them to meet today’s requirements for the old historic structure.

The Ripon Lions Club removed the old roof from the structure and Landreth Roofing replaced the roof assuring it was finally water tight.  Will Mulder Construction installed a new door and Bob McBrian rebuilt an old metal door complete with bars to look like the original jailhouse door.

Silverado Nursery and Stone Works donated $3,345 in pavers to cover the nearly 20X25 foot area of the memorial.  Cal Crush took care of the demolition of the site of the memorial and took out all the sidewalks, removed trees and grass and installed the underlayment with gravel creating a footprint valued at another $3,200.  Stow Construction of Modesto took $3,000 off their bill and charged only $1,700, Mangelos said.

Dave Hall Masonry donated $2,000 and did all the leg work to find the construction people needed as well as preparing the conceptional drawings, Mangalos explained.

Former Ripon Police Chief red Nutt and his wife Bonnie were involved in sewing the covers for the cots in the cells and the officer’s cot located next to the booking desk.  John Long of Affordable Signs took care of the signage, Mangelos said, “all for free.”

A vintage telephone sets on the desk with a ‘50s police radio base station.  The phone was donated by Magpie antique shop owner Janet Dyk – valued at $125 – and the radio came from the police department.  A black cast iron stove is operational just inside the front door.

The dedication of the memorial is set for Saturday, Dec. 7, at noon time.