Porterville at a Glimpse

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City of Porterville
291 North Main Street
Porterville, CA 93257
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                        Porterville at a Glimpse ~ 1990-1999


by Fabian Uresti, Community Development

The 90’s seem like they just happened yesterday and, well, that’s because, to me, they did! Quick…think of the 90’s and what pops into your head? If you said Desert Shield/Storm, Rodney King and the L.A. riots, the Major League baseball strike, O.J. on the run, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, and Princess Diana’s and Prince Charles’ divorce, you would be correct! Granted, a somewhat “negative” outlook, but correct.

On a positive note, you could have also mentioned the reunification of East and West Germany, the end of the Soviet Union, Michael Jackson marrying Lisa Marie Pressley, the television show Friends began, Windows 95 was released, Ted Kaczynski, the “Unabomber,” was captured, Hong Kong became part of China again, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team won the World Cup, the Olympic men’s basketball “Dream Team” prevailed, and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. finally won the Daytona 500.

These were national (and one or two international) news events, but what you probably want to know is, “What happened right here in our great city?” Should I talk about the freeze of 1991 or 1994 and how it economically destroyed farmers and the people who relied on agricultural work to support their families? For such a catastrophic freeze to happen twice in one decade was devastating to our community. It is to Porterville’s credit that our community pulled together and continued forward.  

But - enough of the calamities of this decade; the City of Porterville had some great things that happened in the 90’s. One of the best things that happened to our City in this decade was that Wal-Mart chose Porterville as the site to build their new west coast Distribution Center. Wal-Mart announced in 1990 that Porterville was the location selected and that the Distribution Center would bring 600 new jobs to Porterville. In 1991, construction was completed on the 1.2 million square foot facility in just 11 months. In 1992, the City received the coveted CALED Award of Excellence Grand Prize for bringing Wal-Mart to our community. In 1997, Wal-Mart was selected as Large Employer of the Year by the Tulare County Mayors Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities. Wal-Mart continues to be one of the largest employers in Porterville which contributes immensely to our local economy.

Wal-Mart Distribution Center is also a wonderful example of community partnerships and has a history of generosity to the community, such as donations to the Children’s Miracle Network, United Way, local schools, community causes, and to the needy during the holiday season. The Wal-Mart employees participate in a variety of community service works each year.

President Bill Clinton with Mayor Judi Gibbons

The National Civic League recognized Porterville as an All America City in 1994 along with nine other cities chosen in a national competition. The competition started with nearly 200 cities applying for All-America status - this was a tough contest! Eventually Porterville, along with 29 other cities, was named a finalist. During the two-day convention and final competition, a 115-member delegation traveled to Oakland to deliver a 10-minute oral presentation about Porterville and answer jurors’ questions. In the application process, the City was asked to highlight three projects that demonstrated citizen-based solutions that solved problems facing the City. The three projects that the City highlighted to show our civic spirit were:

  1. The county-wide Freeze Relief which helped feed families devastated by the freeze.
  2. The Porterville Gleaning Seniors new facility to store food for distribution to the needy.
  3. The citizen-launched and driven Delinquency Diversion Program, which was formed to mentor youths and prevent young people from becoming delinquents.

There was absolute elation among the delegates when Porterville was announced as a winner. A delegation from Porterville traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive the All America City award from President Bill Clinton and brought it home to a jubilant community. In the words of Judi Gibbons, who was Mayor at that time, “Porterville has always been a self-reliant community of great pride, and it is wonderful to be named an All-America City.” Porterville had demonstrated innovation and civic engagement - showing that no challenge was too big for Porterville and its citizens to overcome!

City Hall

Fire Station 2

The Porterville Chamber of Commerce breaks ground on
their new building on
Main Street in 1999.

The City of Porterville needed to expand their facilities to match a growing population. In 1990 there was an ambitious and much-needed expansion of City Hall. The north portion of the building was constructed at that time. This expansion allowed many City departments to move out of their dark, cramped quarters in the basement. The new facility also provided better access to services by our citizens.

Another much-needed project that was built in the 90’s was Fire Station#2 on Newcomb Street. Construction on this facility began in 1992 and was finished in 1993. Fire Station #2 enabled the Porterville Fire Department to be able to respond more rapidly to calls for service. This contributed to the safety and welfare of our community.

The Year 2000 problem (aka, simply Y2K) was a problem for both digital (computer-related) and non-digital documentation and data storage situations which resulted from the practice of abbreviating a four-digit year to two digits. In computer programs, the practice of representing the year with two digits becomes problematic with logical error(s) arising upon "rollover" from x99 to x00. This has caused some date-related processing to operate incorrectly for dates and times on and after January 1, 2000 and subsequently the potential failure of government/military systems, banking, power control systems, etc.  Without corrective action, long-working systems would break down when the "...97, 98, 99, 00..." ascending numbering assumption suddenly became invalid. Towards the end of the 1990's, the reality of the Y2K issue began to "sink in" and companies and organizations worldwide checked, fixed, and upgraded their computer systems.

Early in 1999 the City began its efforts to correct and upgrade all computer systems to resolve this problem.  All locally-developed programs and vendor-supplied applications were identified and remedial or upgrade efforts were initiated.  All computer systems were inventoried and vendors contacted for operating system patches or upgrades to resolve the issue. When January 1, 2000, arrived, it was, in fact, just another day; there were no noticeable outages or failures of any of the City's computer systems.

1990’s Timeline:

1990 – Wal-Mart announces Porterville chosen for Distribution Center
            German Reunification
            Iraq invades Kuwait
            Nelson Mandela released from prison
            Home Alone
            Pretty Woman
            Rhythm Nation – Janet Jackson

1991 – Freeze is devastating to local citrus industry
            Construction completed on Wal-Mart Distribution Center
            Iraq attacked by UN forces
            Soviet Union ends
            Jeffery Dahlmer arrested
            Rodney King
            World Wide Web available
            Terminator 2
            Mariah Carey – Mariah Carey

1992 – L.A. Riots
            John Gotti convicted
            Johnny Carson leaves the Tonight Show
            Ropin’ the Wind – Garth Brooks

1993 – Porterville Fire Dept. Station #2 Completed

            NAFTA ratified
            Combat roles for women in the U.S. Military
            Jurassic Park
            The Bodyguard Soundtrack – Whitney Houston

1994 – Freeze is devastating to local citrus industry.
            Major League Baseball Players strike
            Michael Jackson weds Lisa Marie Pressley (Elvis’s daughter)
            Friends show begins
            O.J. on the run
            Forrest Gump
            The Sign – Ace of Base

1995 – Oklahoma City Bombing
            Windows 95 released
            Dallas Cowboys Win Super Bowl
            President Clinton confirms Area 51 exists
            Cracked Rear View Mirror – Hootie and the Blowfish
            Toy Story

1996 – Unabomber arrested in Montana
            California legalizes cannabis for medical purposes
            Princess Diana and Prince Charles Divorce
            NASA uncovers possible ancient life on Martian rock
            Nintendo 64 released
            Independence Day
            Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

1997 – Hong Kong becomes independent from British rule
            Scientist cloned Dolly the Sheep
            Mars Pathfinder lands on Mars
            Pokeman first introduced
            Spice – Spice Girls

1998 – Clinton Lewinsky Affair
            John Glenn returns to space (77 makes him the oldest)
            First Harry Potter book released
            Dale Earnhardt wins Daytona 500
            Saving Private Ryan
            Titanic Soundtrack – Celine Dion

1999 – Groundbreaking for new Porterville Chamber of Commerce Office

            U.S. Women’s Team wins World Cup
            George W. Bush announces candidacy
            Y2K scare
            Yankees win World Series
            Dream Team
            Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
            Millennium – Backstreet Boys

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