Salinas Dam water flows, World War II week by week

Posted by David Middlecamp on May 5, 2014 

Tragedy in Morro Bay and Paso Robles was the lead story in the Telegram-Tribune, May 5, 1944.


May 2, 1944

Seven months before the Pearl Harbor attack a contract was signed to build the Salinas Dam. Almost exactly three years later water was ready to flow to San Luis Obispo. The 135-foot-high concrete dam was finished in eight months, but it took longer to build a pipeline through the Santa Lucia Range and work out the operational issues. Quoting from the May 2, 1944 story:

San Luis Obispo's water supply will be expanded this week when resources from the Salinas River dam are diverted into city pipes, city councilmen were advised by R.P. Howell, commissioner of public works, last night at a regular meeting. Water was turned into the reservoir early Monday, Howell said, and probably will be filled to operating capacity sometime this week. The reservoir, constructed by the federal government is to be used by the city pending an agreement between the city and U.S. government covering cost of building and maintenance.

Problems Now Solved

The dam was originally filled in February but had to be drained soon afterward because of leaks in the walls and flooring and because trees clogging the bottom were discoloring the water. Work on the dam since February, Howell stated, has put the reservoir in first-class condition. The structure has been completely gunited, caulking and expansion joints have been renewed and leaks have been controlled. Water leaking into the reservoir, including springs beneath the flooring has been diverted by trenches around the outside. Total capacity of the dam is 7 million gallons. According to city chemists, Howell said, the water is considerably softer than the present city water supply.

The County Board of Supervisors were in favor of buying Cayucos beachland for a county park. The state had bought 25 acres adjacent to the pier for $17,500. Now the county was exploring a 50-year lease at $1 a year.

San Luis Obispo High school was supporting the war effort by operating a cannery. About 300 #2 sized cans of peas were conserved. The peas were purchased from Ercole Brughelli, a Future Farmer of America student who grew them at the family ranch in Edna. When prices fell on peas it looked like the student would suffer a loss but City School Superintendent Charles E. Teach bought them for use in the high school cafeteria. Within a few days the cannery would open to the general public.

Ferdinand the fire horn was used to announce fires and air raid warnings and gave a daily noontime blast. The 90-foot wooden tower at the rear of the police station was at the end of a 30-year life. Ferdinand would later relocate to behind the main fire station at the corner of Pismo and Garden streets on a 100-foot steel tower.

San Luis Obispo City Council was calling on residents to take pride in their community and clear their yards of rubbish.

The parents of Lt. Mervin E. Rodriguez received word that their son had died in Italy during fighting Dec. 25, 1943. He had first been reported as missing in action.

May 4, 1944

Soldiers in Britain were staging invasion training as seen in photos. British and American bombers continued to pound Europe night and day. In the latest raid 800 RAF heavy bombers dropped 2,240 tons of explosives and incendiaries and lost 49 bombers, their greatest loss in night fighting.

Democrats had an edge of seven to five for registrations in the 11th congressional district which included Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The district had a grand total of 100,395 registered voters.

Mrs. Panline Hamm, 20, was under investigation for offering her 18-month old son for adoption. Her husband, stationed at Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg AFB) refused to give consent for the adoption. The native of Arkansas had come to the region from Pomona in the last two weeks.

May 5, 1944

A former San Luis Obispo County deputy sheriff murdered his wife and another man then killed himself. Ted Halsey, 43, killed his wife, Dorothy, 31, and Ed Gillmore, 32, when he found them together in Morro Bay. Halsey had been a deputy sheriff for eight years and had resigned a few days before. When Undersheriff Charles Bowden arrived at the Paso Robles motor court managed by the ex-deputy, Halsey admitted to the killings. He made arrangements for care of his 14-month old son. Halsey then walked from the kitchen to the bedroom ahead of the undersheriff and killed himself.

Mae Ketchum resigned as city clerk of Arroyo Grande after nine days on the job. Ketchum said the records were in poor condition and there was not enough training. She was replaced by a rival, Mrs. M. Schilling, who had been the part-time assistant to the previous clerk.

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