Presidential visit has historic and economic impact on Merced County

Saturday, June 18, 2016
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Before Kennedy and Carter, he said, there was a visit from William H. Taft in 1909, followed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938.

MERCED COUNTY (KFSN) -- Herb Wood has Merced County's history in his hands. He's a record keeper at the museum, in the middle of town where memories of past presidents are stored.

"Jimmy Carter was here, John Kennedy was here."

Before Kennedy and Carter, he said, there was a visit from William H. Taft in 1909. Followed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took a train to Yosemite in 1938.

"Mostly, they pass through, but from time to time, they will stop here," said Wood.

In 1962 JFK flew in and took a helicopter to the park. Just like President Obama will Friday night.

"It gives us a little glory," said Wood.

It's something to remember, but a trip like this is much different from back then. Today, it takes days of preparation and a ton of security. In fact, Sheriff Vern Warnke said he has 30 plus deputies on the job. Many working overtime to support the Secret Service when Airforce One lands in Atwater.

"We'll have several thousand dollars in overtime that we'll have to absorb, but we do it with a glad heart because this is our job," said Sheriff Warnke.

Congressman Jim Costa will be there to greet the First Family when they step off the plane.

"Clearly, we're not out of the drought, I will tell him. As wonderful as those falls look, we still need to fix a broken water system here."

Back at the museum with Herb Wood, he's hoping to get a picture of the visit to add to the presidential collection for all to see.

Another thing Congressman Costa mentioned is he's hoping this visit will help secure some funding for our National Parks. For preservation and restoration.