From Our Early Files Oct. 6, 2021




Oct. 10, 1996

A candidate for Trempealeau County office has been told he must stop his campaign, quit his job or face disciplinary action by the federal government. Bill Thoma of Independence received notice last week from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that he had to choose between his candidacy and his position as elderly benefits specialist with the county Agency on Aging. Thoma is the Republican candidate for country register of deeds. Thoma was informed that a complaint had been filed under the Hatch Act, a 1939 federal law, which governs political activity by government employees. The law restricts individuals employed by programs funded in whole or in part by loans or grants from the federal government. Apparently, the complaint alleges that since the Agency on Aging receives some federal funds, he could not be allowed to run for partisan office. 

The Whitehall city council, partially reversing its decision of five months ago, has voted to leave part of the fire-protection charges paid by the city on the property tax levy. 

An Arcadia man convicted of causing death by the intoxicated use of a motor vehicle has been ordered to visit the grave of his victim once a year. Circuit Judge John Damon made the annual visits one of the terms of the 10-year probation of Joseph Suchla, who was sentenced Friday in Trempealeau County Circuit Court. Suchla, 40, was found guilty of causing the death of Norman Nelson on Aug. 9, following a three-day jury trial. Nelson was killed June 3, 1995, when the pickup truck in which he was riding was struck head-on by Suchla’s truck on Thompson Valley Road, east of Arcadia. 

On Saturday, residents of the Arcadia School District will cast their vote for the proposed new high school assembly hall. The ballot will have two choices: 1. Construction of a new high school at the cost of $8.35 million. 2. Construction of a 500-seet assembly hall to be included in the new high school at the additional cost of $1.1 million. The plan calls for the construction of a two-story high school consisting of 99,000 square feet. 

Keeping citizens in Arcadia informed is a full-time job. There are two ways to accomplish that goal, the print media and the radio waves. Ruth Gappa, has made it her responsibility to keep people informed through the use of radio from Arcadia’s long-running remote radio station, Arcadia on Air. The station was first started by Arcadia’s Number One Promoter, Ernie Reck, whose death put the station’s future in jeopardy. Gappa decided to take the responsibility of continuing the station, recently moving it to Main Street in the city. 

Ryan Stevens, 15, would have spent a lot of time swimming this summer. And he would have been looking forward to some hunting this fall and then the wrestling season. Instead, he’s content to ride a bike — even if it’s only for one block, says his mother, Kelly. That’s all the energy he can muster now that he’s receiving chemotherapy for leukemia. With medical expenses past the $100,000 mark, the Ettrick Lions Club is holding a musical benefit at the Keggle Haus on Nov. 1. 

Officials of Skogen’s IGA stores have said that the amount taken from their Galesville store on Sept. 22 was $15,171, including cash, checks and food stamps. Officials have appealed to customers who wrote checks on Sept. 21 to consider resubmitting their checks in exchange for a $5 gift certificate. 

Trempealeau plans to hire a public works director or utilities superintendent starting Jan. 1. That may not be soon enough to suit Northern States Power Co., which supplies electrical power to the village utility. An NSP official told the village board Monday night that the community is “dangerously close to being undermanned” in case of a major power failure. 

From father to son, David and Annette Clipper of Whitehall have purchased Clipper’s IGA in Blair. The couple took ownership Oct. 6 from his parents, Maynard and Ginny Clipper. Dave and Annette also own the store in Whitehall and Maynard will continue as owner of the Independence store. 

Two Trempealeau County men were killed in separate car accidents over the weekend. Troy Waldera, 26, of rural Blair was killed in a head-on crash late Friday afternoon in the town of Ettrick. Earlier that day, Geoffray Bergmanis, 23, of Whitehall was killed when his two-door Geo Storm failed to negotiate a curve on County J in the town of Dodge. 

Real estate and land values used to apportion property taxes increased 7.4 percent in Trempealeau County. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue said Trempealeau County’s property tax value was over $707 million, up $48.7 million fro 1995.


Oct. 14, 1971

Trempealeau County Sheriff Stanley Amundson died at the age of 43 Sunday. Amundson was dining in a Madison restaurant when a piece of meat became lodged in his throat, causing him to choke.

The Whitehall school board met in special session Monday night to discuss the effect of the current state budget stalemate on the district. If the state aid bill before the Assembly is noted passed before Oct. 18, the Whitehall district will lose $71,000 in aid over the current fiscal year.

Alma spoiled Whitehall’s Homecoming Friday night by beating the Norsemen 32-8. Dave Pientok passed 34 yards to Mike Burkart for Whitehall’s only touchdown, and Gary Larson ran for the extra points

The death of James Schwanke, Arcadia, was Trempealeau County’s third fatality in less than 15 hours, making the toll for the year 10. In a flaming crash at Whitehall, Lou Ann Pientok, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. LaVerne Pientok, Whitehall, and Forest Mewhorter, 46, Chippewa Falls were killed. The accident involved three trucks and a horse and buggy. Schwanke was a passenger in a vehicle driven by an Independence man. The vehicle he was riding in went out of control and went down a 140-foot embankment. Schwanke died of internal injuries resulting from the crash. 

The Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau Redmen moved a step closer to repeating as Coulee Conference champs with a 33-12 rout over Cochrane-Fountain City. 

The choice of a developer for a nursing home in this area has been narrowed to two. Continental Manors of Sioux City, Iowa and The Good Samaritan Society of Sioux Falls, South Dakota are the finalists selected by the committee. 

Leonard Risler of La Crosse has opened a business in Blair known as The Blair House. Formerly Don’s Bar and Lounge, extensive remodeling was done. 

The Blair-Preston Fire Department purchased a new 1,500-gallon tanker. 


Oct. 10, 1946

A public hearing will be held at the council room of Whitehall City Hall this evening to consider the recommendation of the city plan committee to divide the municipality into residential and commercial districts, and to make regulations for the construction and use of buildings and land within those districts.

The James Transfer Co. of Whitehall began dealing in ice on a large scale this week, having made contact with a Milwaukee firm. Six cars of ice, holding 45 to 48 tons each, were ordered this week and resold to dairy companies in Eau Claire, Minnesota and Indiana.

Richard Smieja, 14, son of Sylvester Smieja of Independence, received a scalp wound from a shotgun while hunting ducks Saturday morning in the Trempealeau River bottoms with Luke Sonsalla and Daniel Schoenberger. He ran into town and was brought to Community Hospital in Whitehall by his father. The wound bled profusely, but he is making a satisfactory recovery.

Five hundred chilly fans braved, rain, wind and cloudy weather, not to mention missing a bang-up World Series game, to see the Whitehall Cubs come from behind to defeat Independence 7 to 6 in 11 innings in the final game of the season Sunday. Speedy Cliff Bautch scored the tying run in the ninth for Whitehall, then put the Cubs ahead in the 11th, singling and stealing second, third and home; Ellison then singled, stole second and scored what proved to be the game-winner on Jackie De Bow’s single.

Students of the Arcadia High School are selling subscriptions to raise money for an electric scoreboard for basketball games. Over 40 different magazines are being offered to members of the public. 

The first hunting fatality of 1946 took place near Trempealeau. Francis Davis, 23, a veteran, accidentally discharged a loaded shotgun in his chest. The accident occurred at 3:10 p.m. while he was duck hunting. He grabbed his weapon when he heard that a flock of ducks were headed toward him. Most of the charge hit him in the chest. 

Ray Nereng purchased the Standard Oil Service Station from Carl Sjuggerud. 


Oct. 13, 1921

A.H. Van Hatten of the Winona Oil Co. was here Tuesday looking for a location for a filling station. But one corner in the business section was founded adapted to their use, and the village board are said to have designs on that for some public-service proposal.

The block on Scranton Street, between Main and Abrams, is being improved with macadam.

Early Saturday morning, the Conrad Hulberg garage at Arcadia burned, together with eight cars, seven of them the property of patrons of the business. The adjoining buildings were saved, except for the Fertig barn.

Pleasantville — Frederick Thompson, who had the misfortune of breaking is arm, is now back in school. Will Seiler is building a bridge for the county highway.

Alfred Hertzfeldt was killed and Joseph Barry seriously injured in an automobile accident between Arcadia and Tamarack.

Miss Helen French has been awarded a place on the Glee Club of the University of Wisconsin. This is considered a high honor. 


Oct. 8, 1896

Congressman Griffin spoke to a crowded courthouse Monday evening, making one of the most able, logical and convincing speeches ever delivered in Whitehall. The general believes that the election of McKinley, and the consequent restoration of the confidence of the people and the re-enactment of a protective tariff policy, are what the country requires.

E.A. Van Vleet moved his family this week to Trempealeau, where he recently purchased a farm, and upon which he will reside. The town of Lincoln loses, and Trempealeau gains, a good and estimable family.

We learn of the loss by fire of the granary of Peter Thompson in Pigeon Thursday night, together with its contents. The particulars are not known.

Ole C. Foss of Pigeon, who bought the Scandinavian Hotel recently, took possession of the property the first of the month. The late proprietor, Chris Anderson, has moved his family into the Theodore Erickson house on Scranton Street.

The many pleasant notices of our candidacy for member of the Assembly by our brethren of the “quill” touch a tender spot in our makeup. Boys, if you are ever placed in a similar position, Beach will remember you, and if need be he will get out a special edition of The Times-Banner to gild you in glory.

Blair — A new post office has been established in the southern part of this town. It is called Voler, and Arnt Degerhaalt has been commissioned postmaster.

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