Spotlight: 10 years ago

Some old trees in a new neighborhood on Hamlets Circle were no match for the EF-1 tornado that ripped through Verona.

50 years ago

• Casting began for a historical show called “Verona Varieties,” to be held during the quasquicentennial.

The show would trace the first days of the pioneer settlement through the present day and into the future at the high school stadium.

• The Quasquicentennial House, a headquarters for the upcoming 125th anniversary celebration, officially opened, with Secretary of State Robert Zimmerman and local leaders on hand.

Over the next month, the community would hold a series of Promenade and Kangaroo Court shows, where people got dressed in 19th century garb and “violators” were charged and sentenced to sit in a wooden jail.

• The Verona Press reprinted a 60-year-old editorial about the attacks being made on newspapers’ fairness and honesty, suggesting that it mirrored the same concerns of the day.

The editorial asserted that fair-minded people know that while there are often inaccuracies, newspapers are generally trustworthy and that if the media would ignore the complaints, they would fade away.

• The Verona Press was named the best newspaper in the state in its category, with circulations under 2,000, winning General Excellence in the 1971 Better Newspaper Contest held by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

• The Village Board unanimously approved the rezoning of land in the industrial park for a home-based mini-bike repair shop. Many in the audience objected, however, asking that the board “take a long-range view” and develop a comprehensive master plan for zoning within the township.

• The Town Board accepted a petition asking for the formation of a 900-acre utility district providing sewer service in an area on the east side of the town, partly to persuade the county to send its sewage to the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District rather than the village.

• Verona High School graduated 127 students.

40 years ago

• The Verona Betterment Association (later called Verona Community Betterment) submitted a plan to develop the park property on what is now known as Community Park, east of the fire station, funded solely from profits of the Hometown USA Days festival.

Among the ideas for the park were a skating rink, an outdoor stage and dance floor, baseball, soccer and volleyball fields, a botanical garden, parking and a band shell. The area now contains the Eagles Nest Ice Arena, an outdoor rink, softball and baseball fields and a skate park, but no area for music.

• The city sent a letter to TDS-CableVision asking the company to consider locating its proposed $7 million building in Verona, rather than Madison.

The company could, it said, buy land for half the price, and the city’s letter said it should consider that Verona is in the service area of TDS, the parent company of Mount Vernon Telephone Co. and more than 40 other small, rural telephone companies.

• Verona and Fitchburg emergency services personnel were trained on dealing with helicopters, including safely approaching them, transporting or removing persons trapped inside a crashed chopper.

The training, arranged by FitchRona EMS but involving fire and police, too, was a response to the Army National Guard’s “Friend in the Sky” service that had begun patrolling major highways with medically equipped helicopters during holiday weekends.

• Verona boys and girls track athletes broke several school records at the Class B state meet and took two bronze medals.

For the boys, Senior Koli Ama set the Indians’ 300 hurdles mark for a third-place finish while Steve Schwenn took fifth with his best throw of the year in discus. Freshman Lisa Zentko took third in the 100 and set a school mark with her fourth-place mark in the 400. Fellow freshman Lisa Kartman’s sixth in the 300 hurdles set the other school mark.

• The city approved a one-year extension of the experimental 9 p.m. carryout alcohol curfew, which remains in place today here and in most of the county. The goal of the ban, which started in July 1982, was to cut down on drunken-driving incidents by young adults.

30 years ago

• A tornado ripped through homes near Paoli, tearing one home completely off its foundation while the family was vacationing in Texas. The couple’s two children were staying up the street with grandparents, whose home lost its roof and was gutted, but nobody was hurt.

Parts of the house were found a mile away.

The house’s owner said a trailer home had been destroyed on the same lot 19 years earlier, on the same day.

• Three teens were fined between $55 and $86 for copying dollar bills to use in a change machine at Verona Area High School. The $34 counterfeiting scheme brought in federal investigators.

Police said the crime was widespread, and “everybody was trying it.”

• Kelly Meyers reluctantly relinquished all three of her coaching jobs after taking her new position as associate principal at Verona Area High School.

Meyers would later become principal and serve for 15 years.

• The Verona boys track team won the Division II state title behind Eric Lonsdorf’s repeat victories in the long jump and triple jump. The team edged Sheboygan Falls 41-38, with the seven team members winning three individual championships.

For the girls, Danielle “Charlie” Rockweiler also defended her two titles, winning the 400-meter dash by one-tenth of a second and the 200, and took second place in the 100. Days later, she signed a letter of intent to run for the Badgers.

• The city thought it landed American Systems Technologies to be the first business in the new industrial park off County Highway PB.

Though the western entry to the park is still called American Way, the tentative agreement was never finalized.

• Despite numerous calls of support, Mayor Art Cresson removed Mary Miller from the Fitch-Rona EMS Commission, claiming that she was not providing an independent voice.

The two disagreed over her recommendation during the previous budget cycle of hiring two new emergency medical technicians, when Cresson believed the department, shared with Fitchburg, should stay all-volunteer.

• Verona’s only water tower got a fresh coat of paint, with extra attention paid – along with up to $50,000 in extra costs – to keeping paint from getting on the preschool next door.

• A vehicle owned by the wife of Ald. Jeff Archibald slipped out of gear and smashed into a car driven by Mayor Art Cresson.

– Jim Ferolie

20 years ago

• The Common Council approved plans constructed by Horizon Development to build an oil change station, an additional retail building, and senior housing in Prairie Oaks, in the northeast corner of Verona.

• Verona boys hockey player Dan Sturges played for Team Wisconsin in the Tier 1 U-17 national hockey championships. Sturges scored the game-winning goal in Team Wisconsin’s semi-final victory over first-ranked Shattuck St. Mary’s. Team Wisconsin then beat the Pittsburgh Hornets in the finals.

• Verona girls softball took second in the WIAA Division 1 state tournament, finishing behind Stevens Point.

• Whitney Bembenek took second place in the 2002 NASTAR (National Standard Race) national skiing championship, making up for a missed appearance at the high school national skiing competition.

• Verona’s The seventh annual Relay for Life raised $59,460 for the American Cancer Society. The event generated less money than in the previous year’s record-holding $66,000 due to “the sluggish economy” reducing enthusiasm.

• The annual Hometown Days festival featured hot-air balloons in the Verona Balloon Classic.

– Rob Kitson

10 years ago

• A tornado tore down trees all over the city and town and knocked out power for 5,000 homes but resulted in only a few reports of major property damage or injuries.

Rated EF-1, it had a 100-yard path for 17.6 miles and reached wind speeds of up to 90 mph. At least three vehicles were damaged, another tree destroyed an old garage, another large, old tree landed on a home on South Franklin Street but didn’t break any windows and the Hometown Days beer tent was shredded.

• Three Verona athletes won state track and field titles.

For the boys, junior Luke Russell set a state record in the shot put with a toss of 17 feet, 3 1/4 inches and also won the 400-meter run in 1 minute, 3.06 seconds, and Drex Jackson won the discus with a throw of 180-8. Russell also finished second in the 1,600.

For the girls, Brooke Richardson won the high jump at 5-5.

• Verona native Alicia Zwiefel retired after a 41-year teaching career all at the same school, Sugar Creek Elementary School.

• The Verona Fire Department moved to 12-hour, seven-day staffing. Previously, the station was empty after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

• Dane County approved the demolition of the older wings of the former Badger Prairie County Health Center, which moved to a new building on the same site.

• The city annexed Reddan Soccer Park as part of a plan to upgrade the park for the Madison Area Youth Soccer Association. Part of that upgrade included an investment by the city of about $800,000 to rebuild the roadway in front of it.

• The Verona baseball team earned its first state berth, defeating Janesville Parker 11-5 in the WIAA state sectional final.

• The defending champion Verona girls soccer team ended its season in the state quarterfinals with a 1-0 overtime loss to Madision Memorial.

• Senior center director Diane Lanaville was appointed to chair a committee of the National Institute of Senior Centers.

– Jim Ferolie

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