From Our Early Files May 24, 2023





May 28, 1998

A Whitehall grade-schooler recently placed second in a statewide sewing competition. Mandy Speerstra, daughter of Jack and Mary Speerstra, was the runner-up in the Kids’ Challenge at the 14th annual Sewing Weekend Expo held April 30 through May 2 in Beaver Dam. Speerstra, 11 and a fifth-grader at Sunset Elementary School entered a fleece jacket-and-pants outfit in the Kids’ Challenge, which drew about 50 entries from throughout the state. 

Organizers are hoping that more consistent programming will boost interest as Whitehall’s weekly farmers’ market returns for its fourth season. The weekly events will resume their usual hours at the same site as previously, the bandstand square next to the former City Hall building on Main Street. But the Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce committee in charge of the markets has made a number of changes in hopes of increasing participation. 

Lon Olson earned the Pigeon Falls Lions Club’s Lion of the Year award at the club’s annual Memorial Day program held Monday. Doris and Vernon Estenson were the recipients of the 1998 Community Service Award. 

On April 1, Trempealeau County was one of eight counties throughout the state to receive an 18-month grant, which will fund a pilot program that has been established to give senior citizens and the developmentally disabled a place to go to get more information about choice that may have a profound impact on their lives. Becky Severson, a resident of Trempealeau County for most of her life, has been selected as the county Aging and Disability Resource Center Coordinator. 

Arcadia High School students selected as the Students of the Month were Suzanne Klein, Shelly Grulkowski, Julie Sobotta, Jessie Frahm, Justin Scow, Paul Jereczek, Maren Flynn and Jamie Frahm. 

The towns of Caledonia and Trempealeau have high levels of nitrate in their water, according to Pat Malone from the Trempealeau County University of Wisconsin Extension office. Malone spoke with the Caledonia town board at their meeting Thursday night to explained the nitrate problem. Of the 24 wells tested in the township within the last 10 years 37.5 percent are between two and 10 parts per million (ppm) and 62.5 percent are more than 10 ppm. Compared to the rest of the state, “only about 10 percent exceed the health standard (more than 10 ppm) of nitrate,” Malone said. 

A group of Trempealeau residents interested in preserving the old lock house at Lock and Dam No. 6 is continuing their efforts to keep the structure in Trempealeau. The group met with Army Corps of Engineers officials, according to group member Lisa Wolters. She said the Corps is willing to work with the group, but would like to see a written proposal of the group’s plans for the building. 


May 31, 1973

At the request of community officials, the Whitehall district school board canceled the public meeting scheduled for this week Tuesday night at Pigeon Falls. The cancellation of the meeting, which was being held to hear district residents’ comments on school operations, was sought when rain postponed some Pigeon Falls Memorial Day weekend activities until Tuesday.

Bob Scow singled home Don Reck with the go-ahead run as the Norse won their baseball season opener 7-6 over arch-rival Alma Center Lincoln this week Tuesday.

Catherine Chambers, daughter of Mrs. Gertrude Chambers and the late Orvin Chambers, was crowned 1973 Arcadia Broiler-Dairy Days Festival Queen in coronation ceremonies in the high school gym Friday night. Named First Attendant was Carol Hesch, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Hesch and Second Attendant was Janet O’Brien, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur O’Brien. 

Erwin Ganschow, teacher at Arcadia High school, was named recipient of the first Teacher of the Year award. The award will be given annually to the teacher who displays the ability to relate with students. The award recipient will also display an excellent service record while working at the educational institution. Ganschow received a plaque inscribed with his name and the name of the award. 

Seventy-four hundred one-day-old pheasant chicks arrived at area sportsmen club’s last week, local club president Harvey Neilson said. The Southern Trempealeau County Sportsmen Club received 600 and the balance of 6,800 went to the Trempealeau County Associated Sportsmen’s Clubs throughout the county. The birds were delivered to the pheasant rearing pens which are located on the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, west of Centerville. They will be there until they are 10 weeks of age and then the clubs will release the birds in their areas.

Commencement exercises for the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau Class of 1973 will be held May 31. 

The G-E-T swimming pool is undergoing painting and general repairs and will open as soon as they are completed.  

The G-E-T High School golf team captured the Coulee Conference golf championship and Paul Williamson is medalist in the conference.


May 27, 1948

With the weather ideal, the centennial celebration held at Whitehall Friday proved to be one of the most outstanding events that the county has ever experienced. Conservative estimates place the crowd at 10,000 people.

Three formal hearings for the consideration of school district reorganization have been dated, according to a release from Miss Dorris Sander, Trempealeau County superintendent of schools. Previously, the reorganization meetings had been informational, but as a result of these formal hearings and others yet to be scheduled, the county school committee will render its decision on whether or not to form new districts out of the old. The first of the three was held this week Wednesday in Independence, and concerned the formation of a common school district from rural districts in the towns of Arcadia, Burnside, Chimney Rock and Lincoln in this county, and Dover and Montana townships in Buffalo County. The other scheduled hearings are June 2 in Strum, and June 9 in Arcadia.

Whitehall High School has a student who is a young mechanical genius. He is 16-year-old LeRoy Haug, son of Mr. and Mrs. Palmer Haug, farmers residing east of Whitehall. A sophomore this year, LeRoy has taught the boys in the agriculture classes all they know about welding since he was a freshman, admits W.C. Foth, vocational ag instructor.

Parochial school will open in several Pigeon Falls area districts the coming week. Classes will begin June 1 in the Huskelhus district, where Mrs. Arnold Hanson will be the teacher. Classes in the Eimon district will begin May 31, with Mrs. Harry Hanson in charge. Miss Doris Kaas, who is completing her sophomore year at Luther College this week, will teach the Fuller Coulee school, the opening date to be announced later. Mrs. Lloyd Severson will begin teaching in the Schimmerhorn district June 1, the same date that parochial school will open in the Pigeon Falls district, with Mrs. Thurman Fremstad and Mrs. C.K. Malmin teaching. Miss Marian Eid will teach the York school again this summer, beginning June 3 because of the late closing of the Eau Claire teachers’ college, where she is a student.

The new 4-H club organized recently at Elk Creek has voted to call their group the 4-H Elks. Their next meeting will be held June 1 at the home of Betty Zilla.

Ed Sonsalla sold his garage business to Ben Bautch and is now operating the filling station he established in 1935 — which had been managed by his brother, Stanley, the past six year. Ed purchased the garage in March, 1942. 

Arcadia High School baseball emerged as Mississippi Valley Conference champions with an 8-2 playoff win over Augusta in Arcadia on Monday. The Arcadia team advanced to the tournament after they defeated Whitehall in the final game of a four-game tournament. 


May 31, 1923

The barn on the Pete Christianson farm north of town burned to the ground Sunday, with about 25 tons of hay in it. Louis Witt and Mr. Christianson were to start bailing the hay Monday morning and had the press set near barn. The fire was confined to the barn, but Mr. Christianson was unable to move the press. Insurance was carried, but not enough to near repay the loss.

Several of the farmers from the Pike school district in the town of Hale are busy hauling material from the Webb lumber yard for a new building, 34 by 36 feet with a complete basement. Gust Woychik will supervise the construction, and when completed, the building will rank high among the rural schools of the county.

Mason and Scott have the culverts completed on the Whitehall-Hale road, and have a crew of men and teams at work on the grading and filling contract.


May 26, 1898

The Whitehall village school is preparing an entertaining program of promotion exercises to be given at the Opera Hall on Friday, June 3. There is only one to graduate this year, Miss Rosa Anderson, and in consequence of the poor health of the young lady, no public graduation exercise will take place.

There was but one bid received by Mr. Anderson for the building of the river bridge when the time arrived for the consideration of the proposals at his office Friday, that of Peter Herried, Blair, for a wooden bridge. Representatives of iron bridge concerns from Milwaukee and St. Paul were present to examine the specifications, and the time limit was extended to May 28 to allow them to file proposals. No encouragement was given for the iron structures, however, as the plans called for a wooden bridge. Mr. Herried’s bid was not opened at this time.

Oscar Strate was arrested Monday on a charge of forgery. In the absence of Cargill Bros. grain buyer E.A. Southworth, he entered the warehouse office and took a check made out to another individual, cashing it at the Solsrud, Kidders and Co. store. Yesterday his father, a well-to-do farmer from Lakes Coulee, furnished his $500 bail and he was released.

Elk Creek -- Chas. Cilley has moved his family from Independence to our village. As Mr. Cilley is an industrious man and an expert manipulator of wood, he will not only be a welcome, but a valuable, inhabitant of our village.

Pigeon Falls -- The mammoth residence of H.A. Fremstad will soon be ready for plastering. H.M. Yndestad is bossing the work. When finished, the building will be one of the largest and most handsome in this valley.


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