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After housing boom, Hughson keeps its small town appeal


  • April 16, 2009

BY Jonathan Whitaker

This is the third of a six-part series focusing on the communities served by Mid Valley Publications — the company that owns the Merced County Times.

Meet Frank.

The editor of the Hughson Chronicle likes to go by his first name because using his last name, George, often causes confusion.
He became editor in February, 2006. His wife Lilybeth helps out as pro bono photographer.

Frank has a bachelor's degree in mass communication from California State University, East Bay in 1987. He also has earned or helped earn several California Newspaper Publishers Association awards in his 20-year career.

Describe your first impressions of Hughson?

When I first rolled into Hughson it reminded me of a rustic western town. I fell in love with it the first time I walked down the main street. It was during the tail end of the housing boom and the Charles Street streetscape project had just been completed. It seemed like everyone was glad to have me.

What would you say are the town’s strong points?

Hughson's strong points are its schools and safe neighborhoods. That's why the homes here are still selling at a decent price.
How about the big challenges facing the community?

I’d say local leaders, i.e., the council members and the planning commissioners, have a hard time staying in office. Sometimes voters can be swayed to "clean house" on the council, but more often than not, city officials tend to move on to greener pastures. Right now, the city can't even find someone to fill the empty planning commission seat. Something like that was unheard of back when developers were working on every angle they could get.

How did the housing boom of the early 2000s change the landscape of Hughson?

I cannot say there's been a lot of impact in the city since all those new houses were built. It's somewhat of a bedroom community.The biggest problem now in town is keeping what's left of the local businesses afloat.

Can you gives us a glimpse of upcoming events in Hughson?

With the demise of the Hughson Fruit & Nut Festival, the biggest upcoming events are the Hughson High and Emilie J. Ross Middle School graduations.

There's also Hughson Youth Baseball opening day, Radio Days at the middle school and the May Day Dance at Fox Road Elementary School.

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