Eight new honorees will be added to the Delano Union School District’s Pioneer School Hall of Fame. For the past three weeks, The Record has profiled each inductee. To read about the other honorees, go to www.thedelanorecord.com.
A resident of Delano for more than 50 years, Delano Mayor Grace Vallejo has served the community in many ways during that time. A graduate of Delano High School, she has the distinction of retiring from two entities. She began work at Pacific Bell telephone company in 1972, working there for 27 years until her retirement in 1999. Soon after her first retirement, she began working for the Delano Joint Union High School District, where she remained until she again retired in 2014 after 15 years with the district.
Vallejo is currently in her fourth term as a Delano City Council member. This is her fourth opportunity as mayor. She also served as a member of the Delano Planning Commission. Other Delano-area organizations in which she has been involved include Kern County Target Area Program, California School Employees Association Chapter 79 (with which she was both a member and president), Bluebird leader, Boys and Girls Club of Delano, Soroptimist International, captain and team member for Delano Relay for Life and volunteer with United Way of Kern County.
At the county level, Vallejo has served as a commissioner and president of the Kern County Human Relations Commission. Honors and awards Vallejo has received include Delano Area Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year in 2007 and Kern Council of Governments Lifetime Achievement of an Elected Official Award in 2016.
Vallejo has worked as a council member to bring a variety of businesses to Delano, which have provided many employment opportunities. She has made a commitment to Delano and accomplished the goals of her mission.
MAX P. BACERRA
Born and raised in Delano, Max Bacerra attended Fremont and Albany Park elementary schools and Delano High School. He was president of the United Filipino Club his sophomore year, class president his junior year and student body president his senior year. Bacerra received his Bachelor of Science degree in city and regional planning from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Bacerra served as principal of Max P. Bacerra and Associates, Planning Consultants from 1982 to 2002. He is president of Maximus III Company, a Kern County-based land development and development services company. Through these companies, Bacerra has played key roles in the planning and development of projects including Delano Marketplace, San Joaquin Valley College, local schools and the Sears Logistics Center.
In addition to serving as the city of Delano’s senior planning and the primary planner for general plans in both Delano and Arvin, Bacerra was also Delano’s enterprise zone consultant and the
redevelopment consultant for Delano and Carson. Through his contracted agreements, he has served in the capacity of planning director, development director, economic development manager, redevelopment consultant and contractor for several agencies.
In the Delano area, Bacerra was one of the founders of the annual longstanding Philippine Weekend Statewide Festival and Basketball Tournament, serving as chairperson and a member of the board of directors. He continues to serve as an adviser to the Philippine Weekend Committee, now in its 44th year.
Bacerra was also a primary grant writer for $1.6 million in funding for the Filipino Cultural Plaza in Delano. He was also one of the founding partners of Mabuhay Productions, a local Filipino nonprofit entity that provided donations to Delano Regional Medical Center and 40 educational scholarships. He is also a past board member of the Delano Association for the Developmentally Disabled.
Bacerra’s community and public service contributions are numerous. Appointed by the Kern County Board of Supervisors to serve on the board of directors for Employers Training Resource, which provides job training and skill preparation in Kern, Mono and Inyo counties, he served on the board from 1981 to 1994.
In 1990, he was also appointed by the Board of Supervisors to the Housing Authority of Kern County, which is the public agency responsible for providing safe and affordable housing and supportive services to qualifying residents in Kern County. Since 1995, he has been HACK’s chairman of the board. The housing authority maintains and operates almost 2,000 public housing units and more than 5,000 Section 8 voucher/certificates throughout Kern County. Bacerra has the distinction of being the longest continuously serving public service person appointed by the Board of Supervisors with more than 38 years of public service.
Honors and awards received by Bacerra include recognition by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in the late 1980s (along with Leonard Velasco and Felix Aroy) of the Filipino-Americans whose
contributions have served their community and the state of California, honored as grand marshal of Philippine Weekend in 1981 and 1992, was named in 1985 by Maharlika Management Group as one of the top 10 Filipino-Americans who made a difference in Kern County and received a service award from Filipino Community of Delano Inc.
Bacerra has utilized his education to work hard in enhancing the progress and quality of life in the Delano community and Kern County through his work in urban planning and land development.
MARY F. SALBER
Born in Iowa in 1906, Mary Salber began her teaching career at Delano High School in 1927 after completing her BA degree from College (now University) of the Pacific in Stockton (completing her MA degree in English in 1932). She worked at DHS until 1943, when she enlisted in the Navy and joined the United States Naval Reserve (women’s reserve), better known as the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), which was the World War II women’s branch of the United States Naval Reserve. She served as a lieutenant until December 1945.
Salber resumed her career at DHS in 1946, where she remained until her retirement in 1967. She led the English Department for 24 years, served as Del Ano yearbook adviser for 22 years and supervised the Live Wire school newspaper for 17 years.
Under her direction, the Del Ano yearbook won 18 consecutive All-American awards (the first in 1932) with a total of 20 over the years, which is the highest rating in national competition. The yearbook staffs over the years also received 12 Medalist ratings from Columbia Press Association. She directed the school newspaper for six years, which won the top international award in Quill and Scroll competition. She founded the DHS chapter of the Quill and Scroll honorary journalism society and the Press Club at DHS. She also was instrumental in organizing the Athenian Society in 1959.
Salber has been a member of the Philanthropic and Educational Organization Sisterhood since 1928, serving as president of the Delano chapter in 1970-71. She was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and served with the Alter Guild. In 1966, she was named Woman of Achievement by the Business and Professional Women.
Salber was president of the Delano Friends of the Library for three years. From 1968-70, she edited the Friends’ newsletter for the county group and edited the Delano Friends’ newsletter for 15 years. In recognition for her contributions to the Delano Friends, a book award has been given in Salber’s name by the Delano Friends each year since 1979 to a graduating senior.
Salber continued to serve her community until she passed away in Delano in 1990.
For more information about the Hall of Fame event Thursday, Sept. 20, at 5:30 at Pioneer School, contact the Delano Union School District office at 661-721-5000.
Mike Bledsoe is the director of child development services for Delano Union School District.