Pride for Our Region: The Story of the Honorary Mayor

December 7, 2019

Riverstone is proud of the region in which it belongs—and part of this heritage is the Madera Ranchos. The Madera Ranchos was founded by Jack Haley, or some people might know him better as the Tin Man from the original movie The Wizard of Oz. He had a vision for what the Ranchos would be and with help from fellow stars, like Jackie Gleason, his building of a community represented the next heart he was looking for. By naming the streets after movie and TV stars, Haley found a way to honor his friends within his profession and spark a community with a strong identity and wholesomeness.

The agrarian heritage lives on at the community garden at The Lodge. A creatively imagined clubhouse in a class all its own, The Lodge features a wide array of amenities for family members of all ages and interests.
With tree-lined streets, a multitude of parks close to home and a beautiful drought-tolerant landscape, Riverstone--for many-- is the Central Valley’s favorite master-planned community.

According to an article in the Golden Valley Chamber of Commerce, Haley’s goal was to “create a ‘Palm Springs North’ in the wheat fields and grape vineyards of southeastern Madera County.” Now with 3,000 homes and commercial, the Madera Ranchos grew the heart of the Central Valley with more opportunities for families and businesses.

As part of Haley’s vision, the business and retail side of the development became the epicenter of the many homes within the community. The Maywood Center is located on Avenue 12 west of Riverstone and has about 42,000 cars driving out and back from Highway 41 daily. Virginia Vick previously owned the center with her husband, Merven Vick. Virginia also owned the local tanning salon and a movie rental store, Vick’s Flicks; Merven worked as a local builder and contractor.

In the spirit of giving back, Virginia and Merven created an honorary mayor race to raise funds for local charities. This race would include candidates raising money and for every one dollar raised, the candidate would collect one “vote.” Virginia and Merven decided to run against each other to kick off the event.

“The news of the two competing spread like wildfire since both were loved by the community,” says Vince Guthrie, a candidate for the Mayoral race this year. “Virginia ran with the slogan of “girl power” complete with signs and buttons to advertise her campaign.” Virginia was crowned the 1st honorary mayor of the Ranchos and it sparked a community tradition. This year’s race has six candidates running, Vince Guthrie of Valley Propane, Richard Sylver of Sylco Garage Doors, Marcos De Ochoa of Lifetree Church, Nicole O’Reilly of Ranchos Pizza Factory, David Wagner of Goosehead Insurance, and James Brannon of Golden Valley Unified School District.

This year’s race is put on by the Ranchos’ Senior Center. Fifty percent of the raised funds will help support efforts in providing the community its needed resources. The remaining 50 percent will be donated to the charity of the candidate’s choosing. The winner of the race will be the candidate that raises the most funds, and with it comes a few responsibilities through next year including: riding the float at the Flatlanders Parade held in May, playing a role in the annual Firemen’s BBQ in August, creating a booth at the Ranchos Rig in June, holding a meet-and-greet at the Senior’s Home and Garden Show, and of course, enjoying a full year of bragging rights.

The results from this race will be announced at the community’s annual tree lighting ceremony at the Maywood Center, which was held on December 6th this year. This ceremony raises funds for the Veteran’s Hospital and honors all those who fought for our country. They honor these brave men and women by having a veteran light the Christmas tree. Finding an honorary tree lighter is not difficult as many of them enjoy meeting once a week at the shopping center’s café and are happy to help with this tradition.

Haley’s vision is very similar to the vision of Riverstone: creating a place for people to connect, to honor the history of those who came before, and build upon this rich history for those who come after; but enjoy the process in the making. Riverstone’s olive grove history lives on with each olive tree replanted in its landscaping, honoring its farming heritage through the community garden located in The Lodge. The future Farm Stand will also commemorate the area’s agrarian culture while serving the future of the community.

Situated in the heart of the region’s path of growth, Riverstone—when complete—will total approximately 6,578 single-family, attached and multi-family homes, as well as Riverwalk, a new commercial and mixed-use destination including office, service and retail. Amenities at Riverstone include walkable neighborhoods, parks and open space, a dog park, a sustainable water supply and The Lodge community clubhouse with resort-style swimming pools, a trainer-designed fitness center, demonstration kitchen, Gear Barn, outdoor gathering spaces with firepits, and ongoing monthly activities such as self-defense classes, book clubs, arts and crafts, specialty meal cooking classes and more. Future amenities are anticipated to include hiking and biking trails, a community farm and on-site schools belonging to the award-winning Golden Valley Unified School District.

For more information about the new-home community of Riverstone and its collections of new homes from Bonadelle Neighborhoods, Crown Homes, D.R. Horton, Lennar and Wathen Castanos Homes, homebuyers are encouraged to visit the community’s website at and add their name to the Interest List.


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