BARSTOW — Mal Wessel knew the importance of education, Shawn Wessel said of her father.

"The one big thing about dad was he wanted ... when you finished high school, that was a big thing. That was a big step in your life," Wessel said. "Then after high school, you need to go to a two-year college. Then definitely a four-year college. Finish your education. Get your degree."

So the Wessel family and Barstow Community College board of trustees President Phil Harris decided to hold a chili cookoff Saturday at Hooz on First to raise money for a scholarship fund in the former mayor's name. Mal Wessel died in September.

Mal Wessel's widow, Connie, said she had already raised $3,000 since her husband death through donations and a poker run.

"This is definitely a good turnout," Harris said. "It was suggested a scholarship in his name. It's a way to keep his memory alive and help the kids in the community."

"We are going to figure out what kind of scholarship we are going to do. Something to help the kids," Connie Wessel said.

Mike Lamb can be reached at 760-957-0613 or mlamb@desertdispatch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter@mlambdispatch.