Driving southbound on Highway 99, one may notice that half of the familiar "Welcome to Chowchilla" sign is missing.
Earlier this month, a pickup truck veered off Highway 99 and hit the sign, bringing it some of it down, said Jackie Flanagan, executive director of the Chowchilla District Chamber of Commerce.
Flanagan said the the driver of the pickup reportedly left the scene and an investigation to locate the driver is continuing. However, she said, authorities believe the driver lives in Chowchilla.
The city will work with the California Department of Transportation to develop a restoration plan, however, the repair depends on several factors.
First, the city needs to figure out if the driver, once located, has insurance to cover the costs. If not, Flanagan said, city officials will have to decide if they can find the money to restore the sign.
The sign was donated by a local developer in 2006. The cost was estimated at about $4,700.
The sign offered a glimpse of Chowchilla's history. It showed a symbolic arch that once was located on Robertson Boulevard during the town's colonization. The arch burned down in the 1930s, but has remained a town symbol. The arch was surrounded by a line of palm trees and a skyline.
The sign is extremely important to Chowchilla's image, Flanagan said.
"It lets people know we're here," she said, "and it's one of the first things people see when they're driving into town."
Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or email@example.com.