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The Alta District, basically the boundary of the Alta Irrigation District, has a rich historical background, but until recently there was no formal group which kept the past and present memories in a single place. This is the history of the Alta District Historical Society which keeps memorabilia and artifacts along with the continued history in a single place of this area.

In November 1962, W. N. Davis convened a meeting to discuss the formation of a Historical Society. At a meeting the next month, December, bylaws were presented. Charter members were to pay membership dues of $1 for the next year. In January 1963, 120 charter members were accepted and Walter Helbaum was elected the first president.

In February 1963 it was decided to have the Dinuba High School reunion every five years on Raisin Day. The “fifty plus” Alumni Association was formed in October 1963. At the Dinuba High School graduation, in June 1964, the Class of 1914 was presented to the audience and it has become a tradition to honor those that are celebrating their fifty year reunion to be guests at the high school graduation.

In July 1979 the Alta District Historical Society was incorporated. A “Bill of Sale” for the Southern Pacific Rail Road Depot was received for $100. The Ventura and “K” Street property was purchased for $40,000 in November 1982. K. Boroian donated his art collection to the historical society in December 1983.

The S. P. Depot was moved in January 1984 from its original place to the Ventura and “K” Street property for $10,000. The next month the foundation was installed for $7,000.

Evelyn Dopkins Corr donated the old “White House” which had been used by the Dinuba School District as an administration office in July 1984. The same month a new roof was installed on the S. P. Depot for $8,211. Later, in November, electrical installation in the depot was completed by volunteers, with material costing $4,357.71.

Between 1984 and 1989 Youth Employment Services provided students to work on the Ventura and “K” Street property and buildings during the summer. It is estimated that they provided approximately $20,000 in volunteer work service.

In January 1985 the “White House” was moved from its original place to the Ventura and “K” Street property for $7,500 and in March the foundation was installed for $4,885. In May 1985, volunteers repaired windows, worked on the exterior and removed outside conduits on the White House. A cyclone fence was installed around the property in February 1986 for $1,522. Tulare County Conservation Corps made repairs at a cost of $7,467.33 in 1988 and 1989. In March 1989, Tulare County provided $7,599 for architect fees.

Beginning in 1981 the historical society operated a fireworks stand and between 1987 and 1989 (3 years), netted $16,427. The Annual Auction began in 1986 and has netted $37,613 the past three years (1987, 1988, 1989). Between 1976 and 1989 over $65,000 have been raised through, dues, donations, memorials, raffles, food booths, dinners, auctions, firework booths, etc,

The Orosi Centennial Historical Committee merged with the Alta District Historical Society in August 1989 and donated $6,000.

In September 1989 the mortgage for the Ventura & “K” Street property was paid off four years early and in October there was a Mortgage burning celebration at the property.

The Historical Society and the City of Dinuba signed a 50-50 agreement for Streetscape around the society’s property for $50,000. The White House Library was named in honor of Evelyn Dopkins Corr in March 1990 and in June 1991 the Bororian Art Collection was restored with a value placed at $40,000 - $60,000. The same month Student Employment Project stripped the downstairs of the White House to its studs. Senator Rose Ann Vuich was honored for a $50,000 donation in October 1991.

Construction projects in the White House were begun in November 1992 and completed in February 1993 at a cost of $128,011. A fence consisting of brick plasters and wrought iron was built around three sides of the society’s property bringing the total cost of the remodeling and fencing to over $150,000.

From 1994 to the present various projects to improve the society’s grounds took place. These include; an aggregate walkway was poured around the inside of the fence and landscaping on the property began on October 1994, the purchase of a computer system for $5,638, White House and Depot Museum were painted in August 1999, the Allen Ledbetter Memorial Patio was built in January 2000, the City of Dinuba forgave a note for $7,500, concrete was poured adjacent to the alley and a new Fence was added to the West side of the property in July 2000, in August 2000 a second computer system was purchased, construction of the Blacksmith Shop began in September 2000 with construction boards from the old Ledbetter barn and was dedicated at the annual dinner in June 2001, a new Alta District Historical Society sign with a brick was installed and paid for by a grant from the Tulare County Historical Society, in November 2001 Richard Hachigian installd the Railroad Crossing sign next to the Depot Museum, vintage lights were installed over the stage area and were paid for by a grant from the Tulare County Historical Society, the White House was repainted through a Facade Improvement grant in May 2004, Jon and Kathy Lamb donated funds for an events sign which was place on top of the brick sign and a patio cover was installed in February 2006.

In December 1994 Winona Campbell was hired as the first Executive Secretary of the Society. She served until October 1999.  Between December 2000 to May 2002 Kaye Powell, Kelly McNulty, and Janelle Cochran served as secretary. In the interim Linda Alvarado also served as Executive Secretary.  In May 2002, Kathy Hurst was hired as Office Manager and has continued to serve until the present.

The Rutan Brothers Aviation Exhibit was the first exhibit to be installed in the restored S. P. Depot Museum building in November 1997. Since then numerous exhibits have been installed to make the museum the show case that it is. Some highlights of displays and improvements in the Depot Museum include; a veteran’s display opened on November 11, 1998, a Native American Display was added in August 1999, the Orosi room opened in the upstairs of the Depot on October 8, 2000, display cases for the Orosi Room were purchased for $2,100 and donated by the Orosi High School Alumni Association. The Dorothy Frew cabinet, made possible through memorials and a pioneer club donation, was installed, a replica of a turn of the century kitchen was completed and room dividers were paid through a grant from the Tulare County Historical Society were installed in July 2004, a Woman’s Club Exhibit and a Grange Exhibit were completed in 2005.

Short term exhibits either in the Depot Museum or the white house include; Photography by Robert Cochran in 1999, Millennium Quilt Show in 2000, Cowboy Jubilee with a chuck wagon dinner and exhibit in November 2000, Armenian Cultural exhibit in May 2001, Depression glass exhibit in September and October 2001, an exhibit of various collections, Japanese Cultural Exhibit, Native American Exhibit in 2003, Local Schools Art Exhibits in 2003 and every year since, Mennonite Cultural Exhibit, Christmas at the White House with themes including “Awesome Angeles”, “Santa Claus is coming to town”, “Christmas in the woods” and “Bring an ornament and call it a party”, and in 2006 a Wedding Exhibit featuring old and new garments worn by local brides and various wedding memorabilia.

Annual Membership business meetings and dinners have lately been held in October and some of the highlights of recent meetings include; in 2001, Historian and Educator Bill Coates told of his experiences teaching elementary students history through students researching local history and making it real for the students. He also leads a wagon train with students for a week, going to local historical places. Television Announcer and Historian Bob Long spoke about his series “On the Map” in 2002, the fortieth anniversary of the Historical Society was celebrated in 2003 with the recollection of the history and honoring those people who made the Society a success, in 2004 writer Mark Arax spoke about his book “King of the Valley” which featured the life of J. G. Boswell, in 2005, Printer and Editor Don Grant and the Alta Advocate were honored, and during the City of Dinuba’s Centennial Celebration in 2006 Special Speaker Ron Dial, local historian and photographer spoke on the history of Dinuba.

After the fence was constructed in 1992 with brick pilasters it was decided to sell brass plaques honoring local families to be placed on the inside of the pilasters. To date over 60 have been sold at $1500 each. After the brick sign was completed it was decided to sell brass plaques honoring area businesses and the first plaque was placed on the back of the sign in 2005. Additional fund raisers that the Society has been involved in include in a 2001calendar with sketches of Dinuba Landmarks, a Firework Stand, an Annual Auction, a wine and cheese tasting and a silent auction. The Society sponsors a food booth during the Bicycle Criterium held every February on the City streets.

During 2002 a committee was formed to develop a long range financial plan, which was presented to the directors and approved.   In May 2003, Gabe Pena donated State Senator Rose Ann Vuich’s Model ‘A’ Ford to the Society.

In July 2004 an Advisory Board was formed and meet at least once a year to advise the Society on maters of direction and finance.

During the City of Dinuba’s Centennial celebration the Society held a reception in Heritage Square on June 17, 2006 and sponsored the “Son of the San Joaquin” concert at Dinuba High School Athletic Field that evening.

Members honored by the City of Dinuba and Cutler-Orosi in recent years include;

Cecil Reed as Cutler-Orosi Citizen of the 2004

Joanne Andrews as Dinuba Sr. Citizen of 2004

Don Grant and the Alta Avocate as the business of 2004

Avalyn Halls with a Distinguished Service Award from Dinuba in 2004

Terry McKitrick as Dinuba Sr Citizen of 2005

Rose & Richard Hachigian as Distinguished Citizens of 2005

Karla Radke as Dinuba Jr Citizen of 2005

Janelle Cochran as Dinuba Distinguished Citizen of 2006

Shirley Shuil as Dinuba Sr Citizen of 2006

Mark Terry as Dinuba Jr Citizen of 2006

Bertha Terry as Distringuished Citizen 2007

Becky Willems as Senior Citizen 2007

Margaret Lopez as Junior Citizen 2007

Newton & Son's Real Estate  as Large Business 2007

Shirley Stormont as Senior Citizen 2008

Dinuba Lumber as Large Business 2008

Presidents of the Alta District Historical Society

January 1963 – October 1965 Walter Hellbaum

November 1965 – February 1968 Ernest Forcher

March 1968 – September 1969 Clarence Fraser

October 1969 – Feb 1975 Donald Warren

March 1975 – September 1976 Mabel Lorenz

October 1976 – September 1980 Genevieve Dittenbir

October 1980 – September 1982 Frank Michaelson

October 1982 – September 1987 Bobbi Doyle

October 1987 – September 1988 Jim Best

October 1988 – September 1993 Harry Burum

October 1993 – September 1995 Steve Worthley

October 1995 – September 1998 Lyle Willems

October 1998 – May 1999 Janelle Cochran

June 1999 – October 2000 Lyle Willems

November 2000 – October 2003 Janis McCord

November 2003 – October 2006 Lyle Willems

November 2006 - 2011 - Roy Cotton