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December 6, 2005 > Washington Township Events in 1955

Washington Township Events in 1955

The Washington Township Chamber of Commerce hired the Coro Foundation in 1953 to study the feasibility of incorporating a new city in southern Alameda County. The study endorsed the dream of uniting the towns in Washington Township into a city so a Committee to Study and Initiate Incorporation was formed.

Life in Washington Township appeared to be almost normal for many people in spite of these threatening events. The Township Concert Association held a membership drive for the 1955-56 seasons. The Catholic Daughters gave their Annual Township Communion and breakfast featuring Judge Allen Norris as master of ceremonies and Judge E. A. Quaresma as speaker. The Lions Club held their annual student speaker's contest at the International Kitchen. Remodeling the Washington Union High School gym left students without a dressing facility for a while.

Allan Walton, Mary Rodrigues, Claire Topes, James Mayer and Tom Maloney posed for groundbreaking ceremonies of Glenmoor School. The Township Rotary Club celebrated the Golden Anniversary of the national organization. Local banks reported a prosperous year, and Irvington got a new bank building. A women's auxiliary was organized to aid the Township Hospital, and the Business and Professional Women's Club had their annual fashion show at the International Kitchen.

Mission San Jose purchased a new fire truck and used it for the first time on a fire that destroyed their former fire house on Vallejo Street. Centerville's fire department celebrated its 65th birthday by moving into a new station and holding an open house. Niles elected Leon Solon to be their new fire commissioner.

Romeo Brunelli, president of Central Chevrolet, received an award from General Motors for record sales in the area. Five Future Farmers from Washington Union High School were named first-round winners in the annual Future Farmers of America Farm Program Competition. Four Township dairymen were named winners of annual Purebred Dairy Cattle Association certificates for producing an average of 400 pounds of butterfat per cow.

Subdivisions were being developed in several areas. Dan Bodily was building near Niles. A 400 home project in Warm Springs forced trustees to hold an election to provide bond money to enlarge the school. Opening the Center Square shopping center was predicted to make Centerville "the retail hub of Washington Township." Rick Mark Center was good news for Irvington. The most significant project for many people was the Township Hospital reported under construction in March 1955.

Individual chambers were very busy. Niles took over the Southern Pacific parking lot and launched a program to keep the town clean. Centerville was working on light poles in the Chamber parking lot, street-sweeping and the need for a larger place to eat caused by so many new members. Mission was focused on a Town Youth Center, and Irvington was involved with a boundary dispute with Newark. In the midst of all the excitement, the Township Chamber "went into mothballs" for lack of a quorum.

The county held zoning meetings to develop a county Master Plan. These meetings were often contentious and seldom boring. However, these news items were just a side show to the main event-the incorporation of Washington Township. The County Planning Commission refused to meet with local groups. Hayward decided to annex part of the incorporation study area, and Newark citizens voted to form their own city. Union City residents appealed to the courts to keep Hayward out of their territory, so the Incorporation Study Committee decided to form a city without Newark and Union City. This action was just one move in the fight to "Stop Hayward and preserve Washington Township under local rule." Stuart Nixon, editor of the News-Register, wrote on March 17, 1955, "A year ago you couldn't have picked up cityhood backers in Washington Township with a harrow. This week there are three separate incorporation movements afoot."

One interesting aspect of the incorporation movement was the search for a name for the new city. Maurice Marks was the chairman of a committee that sought public participation in choosing a name. A deadlock vote between Fremont and Mission Valley was declared in March. An organized effort made Mission Valley number one, but most communities preferred Fremont. Wally Pond had to make a decision so the incorporation map could go to the Board of Supervisors. He chose Fremont, and his choice survived the turmoil of the times and became the name for our great city.

Irvington, Centerville and Niles proceeded with their own incorporation plans for a while but eventually joined the effort to unite the five towns into a city to be called Fremont. Many people labored to further the cause of incorporation through committees, meetings, flyers, and personal persuasion. Some leaders who had worked for incorporation turned their efforts to running for the city council of Fremont in January 1956.

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