Spotlight 19 Verona

Spotlight: 30 years ago High wire act Pole removal culminated the three month goal of opening up and beautifying Verona’s downtown Main Street. A widened and new street as well as full sidewalks were part of the underground cable burial that gives Verona’s Main Street a more attractive appearance.

50 years ago

• Madison Mayor William Dyke apologized to the citizens of Verona for not informing them of the city’s potential plans to turn land at County Highway PB and M into a dump site.

“Obviously, somebody goofed,” he said.

• A 181-lot mobile home park proposal in the Verona Area School District was withdrawn “indefinitely” before going to the County Board after facing opposition on several fronts.

Adjacent property owners, developers in the area, some members of the Fitchburg Planning Commission and the Verona Area Chamber of Commerce all opposed the plan, which also got VASD concerned because of unclear laws of taxation.

• The Verona chapter of Future Farmers of America commemorated 20 years of service.

• Verona Home Talent fell 4-2 to Waunakee in the league championship game.

• A Madison woman and her 2 year old daughter were killed in a crash on County Hwy. PB south of Paoli after the car they were riding in struck a culvert and rolled over.

40 years ago

• After seven months of debate, the Common Council finally adopted an alternate-side parking ordinance that is essentially the same one we have today.

The mayor later vetoed the ordinance, but the council overrode it.

Many people had complained about the no-parking ordinance from the previous year, but some form of no-parking was felt to be essential for snowplowing. The council removed a provision that would have exempted visitors who alerted the police.

• An express bus service to Madison made some of its first runs, with a park-and-ride lot at the bowling alley on West Verona Avenue and an early and late schedule. The ribbon-cutting included Madison Mayor Joel Skornika and County Executive George Reinke.

• The City of Madison annexed 300 acres from the Town of Verona that would be used for the WISC-TV, the expansion of Elver Park and residential areas. The school district superintendent expressed alarm at the loss of district property, and school board members continued asking the town if there was any way it could prevent future annexations.

• A 16-year-old Verona boy was killed in a one-vehicle accident on a rural road west of the city. Alan Becker was killed when his vehicle rolled on top of him on County Highway G, but his passenger was treated and released.

• Verona police and county sheriffs investigated the burglaries of 12 Verona businesses and their connection to recent incidents around the county. Doors were pried open and cash was taken, with the total loss in Verona estimated at about $9,000.

• A six-lane 25-meter swimming pool opened next to Verona High School.

• The Friends of the Verona Public Library held its first meeting.

• St. James Lutheran Church added old brick from Chicago to its exterior walls. The original church structure remained unchanged.

• The school district released its official enrollment figure of 1,841.

30 years ago

• The new school year began with a new grading system for elementary school students. Instead of As, Bs and Cs, students in grades K-5 would get O, for outstanding, S for successful performance or H for having difficulty in a variety of aspects of the major subjects and also be graded on effort. The idea was to have students focus on outcomes, rather than grades.

The district also approved a refined K-12 assessment program that was intended to deliver a broader, more defined idea of student progress.

• The Chamber of Commerce held a dance to celebrate the reopening of South Main Street. It included a corn boil, barbecue, buggy rides, clowns and live music, but a suggestion to include free beer was shot down because of liability concerns.

The street had been closed for months, getting road improvements and having power lines buried.

• The Common Council approved spending almost $4,000 to beautify downtown by planting 21 trees along the now more open Main Street.

• The senior class of 1990 won the best float at the Homecoming parade with its Bottle the “Cats-Up” image of a ketchup bottle.

20 years ago

  • The city and town of Verona were chosen to pilot a national land-use planning project with the Federal Geographic Data Committee. The project, which Mayor Tom Ferch called a “Sim City” for land-use planning, was planned for a year and gave citizens the ability to see how the area would build out under a variety of scenarios.
  • The Common Council voted to spend $10,000 to study its space needs. In the years since, the city has built a new senior center, public works facility, library, police station and city hall.
  • Pastor Doug Tomhave held the first worship service of Resurrection Lutheran Church in a suite at Collin Court on West Verona Avenue. The church now has its own building of County Highway PB.

• Dan Elsass of Fitchburg was sworn in as a replacement for departed school board member Jack Husted, who moved out of state with his family.

  • Steve Zimmer, the Verona Police Department’s first school liaison officer, was promoted to sergeant. Zimmer retired in 2006.
  • Verona Area High School students participated in a wetland restoration project in nearby Cross Country Park.
  • The Dahlk Circle Lawn Mower Olympics raised $2,500 for the Ronald McDonald House. The event drew 31 people and 20 mowers.

10 years ago

• Sugar Creek Elementary School became the first in Dane County to offer free breakfasts to all kids.

The program soon expanded to all of the elementary schools at the district.

• Representatives from southside recycling center Second Season promised a crowd of 18 people at a town hall-style meeting they would make sure odors and debris that had been bothering them would be cleaned up.

Prairie Crest Apartments, which hosted the meeting, was directly across the bypass, and the manager said she had received 30 complaints in 60 days. The company soon purchased another facility further south and began storing its compose there.

The location is now owned by the city and is being planned for a public works facility.

• About 200 runners took part in the inaugural Mama Goose run, in honor of former Verona Area School District school secretary Margaret “Peggy” Giesfeldt, who died of cancer earlier in the year. The race has continued each year.

• The city approved its first comprehensive plan, which, as the name suggests, covers a variety of topics to help guide the future of the city, particularly growth and development. All Wisconsin municipalities were required to adopt comp plans by the end of the year under the 2000 Smart Growth law.

• The Verona Cavaliers repeated as Home Talent League champions. The team has won five more league titles since then, including one in September.

• The owner of a Verona restaurant and convenience store known as Chinmi was sentenced to three months in jail for bank fraud stemming from writing bad checks.

Li Zhang had pleaded no contest four years earlier to unauthorized use of another person’s credit card.

The restaurant closed several years ago, and the former truck stop in which it was located was torn down earlier this summer.

• Madison-based Red Star Pictures filmed part of a feature film at a home on White Crossing Road, which was torn down a few years later.

• The city agreed to pay $35,000 in a settlement with Prairie Crest Apartment developer John Dohm over his buildings’ assessed value. He had argued that the city’s commercial assessor, Paul Musser, calculated it based on higher occupancy rates than the apartments were getting.

— Jim Ferolie