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Mike Welsh leaving behind CUSD seat, California
• Selling Ceres ProTow as well
Mike and Maureen Welsh
Mike and Maureen Welsh are leaving soon for Nevada but expect to keep a close connection to Ceres.

Mike Welsh has opted not to run for re-election to the Ceres School Board Trustee Area 2 seat, eyeing instead the sale of his Ceres business and retirement to Nevada.

Welsh will be recognized during his final meeting on Nov. 17.

“It’s time to retire,” said the 71-year-old Welsh, a board member since 2004. “I’ve enjoyed my time there. I got to work with some terrific people. It was a learning experience.”

Welsh and Maureen, his wife of 34 years, are looking forward to soon becoming permanent residents of Nevada.

“The plan is to spend more time there. It’s where we’re going to retire at some point. Hopefully, by the end of the year. But I still have obligations in Ceres.”

The Welshes plan to continue calling Ceres home. Mike’s mother Bettye has spent 76 of her 94 years here. She worked in food service in Ceres schools for 23 years.

“We’ll be in Ceres some but not 100 percent,” said Mike who maintains a close relationship with his mother who just moved from Ceres to Samaritan Village in Hughson. “She’s a priority. She’s so deeply rooted in Ceres. She has friends she’s known for 70 years.”

Mike and Maureen will settle into a new 2,300-plus-square-foot home they had constructed two years ago on a two-acre parcel in Minden, in the beautiful Carson Valley.

“We spent four years looking for the right place. It’s beautiful there. It’s in the mountains. There are wild horses and deer that roam freely. It’s going to be a great place to retire.”

Mike and Maureen love the outdoors and enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, golfing and RVing. In addition, Maureen is a guide for the Tahoe Rim Trail Association which she is passionate about and which Mike fully supports.

An avid baseball fan, Mike has been an usher for the Reno Aces—the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks—since the 2021 season.

“You don’t get paid much but it’s something I love doing,” he said. “It’s fun.”

Welsh has served Ceres Unified School District stakeholders for 18 years.

"Where the district was, compared to where it’s at today, it’s improved a lot. We don’t model ourselves after other people. We do it the Ceres way—the right way. We pay our employees very competitively. Our kids have a great place to get an education..”
Mike Welsh

“I wasn’t planning on staying this long,” he said. “It just worked that way. Where the district was, compared to where it’s at today, it’s improved a lot. We don’t model ourselves after other people. We do it the Ceres way—the right way. We pay our employees very competitively. Our kids have a great place to get an education. People want to come here. We’re not anybody’s little brother or sister.”

An appointee to the Ceres School Board in 2004, Welsh was elected in 2005 and ran unopposed in 2017, 2013 and 2009.

“You have power as a board when you work together to make decisions,” he said. “That’s when magic happens. Our primary function is to spend taxpayers’ dollars wisely. I rely on common sense and gut feelings.”

Welsh considered not running for election after completing a four-year term in 2013.

“I thought I was going to retire but stayed on because there were still things I wanted to try to accomplish. It was mainly facilities. We built new schools and spent millions of dollars on modernizing existing schools. We planned for the future. When I got on the Ceres School Board, there were 8,000 kids. Now, we’re over 14,000. There’s been a lot of growth.”

CUSD has opened 10 new schools during Welsh’s tenure as a board member. They are: Central Valley High School, Cesar Chavez Junior High, Whitmore (Berryhill) Charter School, Hanline School, and Patricia Kay Beaver, Lucas, Joel Hidahl, La Rosa, Robert Adkison and Sinclear elementary schools. The schools reduced overcrowding, and returned CUSD to a traditional school year schedule.

The district’s performing arts center, named in honor of Ric Campero and located on Central Valley High School’s campus, will open in September of 2023.

With approval from the Ceres School Board, CUSD is also using funding to construct a brand-new aquatic center and complete the football stadium at Central Valley.

The swimming pool facility is slated to be finished in May of 2023.

The Hawks could host football games on campus as early as the 2025-26 academic year.

“I’m proud of how our schools look, how our teachers teach and how our administrators do their job,” Welsh said. “The district is in a great position right now. They’re doing well. A lot of peoples’ hard work got us there.”

Three different superintendents – Walt Hanline, Scott Siegel and Denise Wickham – have presided over the Ceres Unified School District since Welsh was appointed to the board.  He said the district has benefitted from their collective forward-thinking leadership.

“Those are three great superintendents. They’re all different in their own ways.”

Welsh credits his improved business acumen on his service as a board member.

“I don’t think I’d be as good of a businessman today if I hadn’t done that,” he said. “I’m not the most educated person. I had two years of junior college. Being on the board gives me the privilege of working with people that are brilliant. It taught me about life, my own business and how to treat people.”

Welsh owns Ceres Pro Tow, which was previously named Ceres Body Shop, Inc. Gene Welsh, Mike’s father, opened the auto body shop south of the Ceres cemetery on Whitmore Avenue in 1967. Mike worked there prior to taking over the business after Gene retired in the late 1980s. Gene Welsh passed away in 2012 at the age of 87.

Ceres Pro Tow started offering just towing services in the mid-1990s. The Ceres business has been a AAA-approved towing contractor for over 40 years.

“I’ve been self-employed since I started working there as a painter’s helper in 1971. I stopped going to school to run my dad’s business. I always wanted to be a psychologist. It didn’t happen.”

A lifelong resident of Ceres, Mike attended Walter White Junior High, Whitmore Elementary School and Carroll Fowler Elementary prior to graduating from Ceres High School in 1969. Walter White Jr. High and Whitmore Elementary no longer exist.

He was an outfielder on George Costa’s Ceres Giants 11-12 year old county team for two seasons in the early 1960s.

“I was born in Modesto but have lived in Ceres for 71 years. It’s a great place to live. I have fond memories of how it was. I think we can get back to that feeling if people make good decisions.”

Mike and Maureen celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary in February. They were married in 1988.

“We met at a softball game at Rainbow Fields. I was playing and she was watching the game with some of her friends.”

Their three children, Morgan, Nick and Adam, attended schools in Ceres. Morgan is a teacher; Nick is a Ceres Police officer; and Adam is a fireman.

“Giving all three of my kids their high school diplomas was probably the coolest thing I got to do,” Mike said. “That was a reward for me.”

Grandson Michael (Nick’s child) is a second-grader at Sam Vaughn Elementary.

Welshs leaving
While they plan to move to a new home in the Minden Valley area south of Reno, Mike and Maureen Welsh plan to stay connected to the Ceres area where his mother still resides.