Spotlight: 50 years ago

Several women model their new wigs for a Chamber of Commerce audience as a moderator described the wigs and their care. The presentation came weeks after a new gift and wig shop opened in the former Sharpe house at the corner of Verona Avenue and Main Street and operated by Marion Balousek.


50 years ago

• Police chief Al Frazier died suddenly at home at age 58 after coming down with a sudden illness. He had been chief for 15 years.

Frazier, a veteran of World War II, had also been commander of the local American Legion post.

Herman Daniels, a sergeant who grew up in Verona, was chosen to succeed Frazier.

• The Town Board agreed to take formal control of Wesner Road after a dispute over whose responsibility it was.

The resident who lived there had requested that the town put blacktop in certain areas of it a month earlier, but the town had never considered it part of its system and decided not to pay for it. The road had been built 12 years earlier and had been improved once by Dane County for access to its land and a police tower there, starting the dispute.

• The school board had to trim several small items in order to get the new addition for the high school to fit within the $700,000 budget. The addition, on the east side of the school, would include facilities for music and physical education.

• The Town Board got a state grant for about a quarter of the cost of its project to bring sewer service to the Nesbitt-Fitchrona area.

• Plumbing and Glass Service moved to a new location on South Main Street, where it remains today.

• Gov. Warren Knowles presented a plaque to Rosemary Miller of Verona High School as journalism teacher-adviser of the year, as awarded by UW-Extension.

40 years ago

• After waiting 18 months for Verona Cable TV Company to begin installing a system here, the city decided to reopen bidding for the franchise.

The company had hoped to use sister company Mount Vernon Telephone Company’s infrastructure, but because of the breakup of the telephone company monopolies, it needed a waiver from the FCC and was having trouble getting it.

• Verona’s girls cross country team won their first state championship, following a third-place finish the previous year. They bunched their runners in a tight pack to easily defeat second-place Whitewater, 52-72.

Leading the team were Becky Beachley (third), Amy Sanborn (11th) and Diana Johnson (17th), followed by three more runners in the top 40. The team was later honored at a banquet, with former Badger and U.S. national team runner Cindy Bremser as featured speaker.

• The Verona Common Council held its first meeting in the new, $800,000 City Hall building. That building would be torn down 30 years later after the city moved its offices into a new, $7.5 million building on the same lot.

• After voters passed a referendum to allow tax-increment financing districts, the Common Council approved a $3.5 million project plan for Cross Country Heights.

• Most of the 35 people at a Plan Commission meeting argued against the rezoning of a property on West Verona Avenue and South Marietta Street to build a 40-by-80-foot professional office building.

• Verona voters narrowly supported Jimmy Carter’s re-election bid over Ronald Reagan’s challenge.

30 years ago

• The Verona Area School District’s decision to stash $150,000 of its $250,000 dividend from the closing of a tax-increment finance district created a controversy.

Several residents asked the board to apply the entire amount to reduce taxes immediately, but the board defended its decision to hold some to draw interest in preparation for a future expansion of the high school.

• The city approved a new rule requiring people to sort recyclable materials and announced the new curbside recycling program would begin by the following February.

After its two-bag limit for non-recyclable garbage drew some complaints, the city eventually changed it to three bags.

• Jim Schroeder, president of the school board for the past six years, announced he would not seek re-election.

• Though the city’s budget increased to $1.5 million, tax rates actually dropped slightly, partly because of a $110,000 refund from the closing of a tax-increment financing district.

• The school board approved an $8,000 increase in the superintendent’s pay, to $68,000 a year, in an effort to bring it in line with typical rates in the area.

20 years ago

• The city began the approval process for a high tech park southeast of the city that was aimed at attracting Massachusetts-based American Superconductor.

The company eventually decided to add its plant in Middleton, instead, but the main street through the Verona Technology Park is still called American Way. The Middleton plant closed in 2014, with the company moving its operations back to Massachusetts.

• A subsidiary of the Bruce Company withdrew plans to build a golf course and subdivision south of the city.

Company representatives told the town “the economic situation,” on the heels of three years of spinning its wheels between the city and town, forced Madison Golf and Development to rethink its plans.

• Town Chair Steve Sheets announced he would not seek re-election because of the overwhelming time commitment. He reported having attended more than 300 meetings each of the past two years and spending about 30 hours a week working on town business.

• The city approved spending $2 million to build a new public works facility in the Bruce Street industrial park.

• The girls swim team finished fifth at the state meet, led by Caitlin Girdley’s fourth- and third-place finishes.

• The boys cross country team finished 12th at the state meet.

• A 20-year-old Verona resident was arrested on rape charges after allegedly assaulting a 13-year-old girl.

• Verona Area High School students got an up-close look at a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter when an Air National Guard unit landed one on the practice football field.

10 years ago

• The Verona Area School District approved a 4-year-old kindergarten program to start in the fall, open to anyone in the district and run through area day care centers.

The program, to be called Pre-K, was projected to cost the district $667,000 the following year but eventually bring in enough state aids to more than make up the difference, while easing the burden of kindergarten teachers to socialize kids. At the time of the vote, 80% of Wisconsin districts already had such a program.

• Mayor Jon Hochkammer announced his candidacy for the Dane County executive position being vacated by Kathleen Falk the following spring.

Hochkammer’s run was short-lived, however, after he broke his ankle several days later while stepping off a ladder in his garage. He tried to campaign for a few weeks but called it off when the injury became too much of an impediment and the field got more crowded.

• For the third time in three years, a deer crashed into a Verona school, this time at Badger Ridge Middle School. The buck smashed through a window and into a classroom around 4:30 p.m., where one student was working on an after-school project.

A quick-thinking teacher kicked the deer, chasing it into a janitor’s closet.

• The Madison Area Youth Soccer Association signed a $250,000 deal with UW Health Sports Medicine that provided it a big boost toward a $3 million facility upgrade at Reddan Soccer Park.

• USA Cycling announced it would hold the USA Cyclocross National Championships at Badger Prairie County Park in 2012 and 2013.

• Verona crossing guards debuted new lighted stop signs aimed at getting more attention from drivers.

• Dan LaCroix finished 26th at the WIAA Division I boys state cross country championships, with a run of 16 minutes, 34.91 seconds.

• After years of close calls and accidents at a couple of intersections, the city lowered the speed limit on Old PB to 35 mph.

Because of limited space during the COVID-19 pandemic, Verona's history is running behind. Verona Press staff felt it important to keep the continuity of the stories within and are working on catching up.

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