By Jeff Soares, Associate Warden, Correctional Training Facility

Four men whose lives were cut short are being remembered, thanks to memorial signs placed along a stretch of highway in Central California.

On Sept. 12, a dedication ceremony was held at the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) Memorial Garden in Soledad. The ceremony dedicated two highway memorial signs honoring four employees murdered at CTF between January 1970 and May 1971.

Warden Marion Spearman and Associate Warden Jeff Soares stand next to the memorial freeway sign after its dedication.

Warden Marion Spearman and Associate Warden Jeff Soares stand next to the memorial freeway sign after its dedication.

Sen. Anthony Cannella and Don Conant, the son of murdered Program Administrator Kenneth Conant, unveiled the signs during the ceremony which was attended by staff, dignitaries and reporters.

Sen. Cannella, through Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) No. 23, designated a portion of State Highway Route 101 as the Soledad State Prison Correctional Officers Memorial Highway in honor of Correctional Officer John V. Mills, Correctional Officer William C. Shull, Correctional Officer Robert J. McCarthy and Conant.

CTF is commonly referred to by locals as Soledad State Prison.

As soon as Sen. Cannella was able to get SCR 23 passed through the senate, Associate Warden Jeff Soares made contact with the California Department of Transportation (CAL TRANS) to secure permits for the placement of the signs on the north and south bound sides of Highway 101.

He then worked with CAL TRANS in the design of the signage. The signs cost over $7,000, and so a serious fund raising campaign was initiated. Through a bake sale, barbecue and donations, enough money was raised to purchase the memorial signs.

Sen. Cannella had framed resolutions made for the family members of the four employees murdered at CTF. On Wednesday, Sept. 17, the signs were installed on Highway 101.

Approximately 11 miles of Highway 101, stretching from the city of Gonzales to the city of Soledad, is dedicated to the four employees.

Remembering the victims

On Jan. 16, 1970, at 6:35 p.m., while working in Y-Wing at Central Facility, Correctional Officer John V. Mills, 26, married and a father, was murdered in the line of duty.

A memorial plaque, dedicated in 2012, also pays tribute to the four men.

A memorial plaque, dedicated in 2012, also pays tribute to the four men.

On July 23, 1970, at approximately 9:50 a.m., while working in the recreation shack on the 1 Yard at North Facility, 40-year-old Correctional Officer William C. Shull, married with four children, was murdered in the line of duty.

On March 4, 1971, at 11:15 p.m., while working in X-Wing at Central Facility, Correctional Officer Robert J. McCarthy, 43 and married with two children, was murdered in the line of duty.

On May 19, 1971, at 9:20 a.m., while working in his office in Unit-I at Central Facility, Program Administrator Kenneth E. Conant, 49, married and a father, was murdered in the line of duty.

State Sen. Anthony Cannella, of the 12th Senate District, speaks during the memorial freeway sign dedication.

State Sen. Anthony Cannella, of the 12th Senate District, speaks during the memorial freeway sign dedication.