Bygone Days: A look at the history of NE Allegan County

(From the archives at the Then & Now Historical Library in downtown Dorr)

25 Years Ago — July 8, 1992

Amicorn may be the first business to apply for a tax abatement under Wayland Township’s proposed designation of the area as a Downtown Development District.

The Dorr Township Board accepted the highest of four bids, of $7,600, from Williams & Works of Grand Rapids for a sewer feasibility study.

Allegan County Commissioners Henry Leep and John Vogelzang, Wayland City Council Members Mary Reno, Paul Kaczanowski and Robert Golm, and City Manager Pete Stull, along City DDA members, have formed a task force, which will spend up to $50,000 to perform updates on the old Kessler’s building on South Main Street. The hope is that making the site more attractive will get a maximum price when it is sold. Kessler’s was shuttered by bankruptcy after many years producing infant sleepwear.

Lightning struck the tower at the Wayland Area Emergency Services Building on South Main, causing 911 dispatches to be relayed by the Wayland post of the Michigan State Police.

Barricades have been set up in Monterey Township to block ORV traffic from damaging roads even further to state recreation lands.

Susan E. Barker of Shelbyville penned a letter asking Wayland Township residents not to jump to negative conclusions about the recent proposal to bring in an amphitheater. She acknowledged potential problems, but countered with economic benefits that may result as well. Barb Kaarlie of the Allegan County Promotional Alliance also wrote a letter expressing similar sentiments.

The $61,000 bid from Erwin Doublestein Jr. for building an addition at the Wayland Township Hall was accepted by the Township Board. The move was somewhat controversial because the Doublestein is the son of the supervisor.

Diane Spencer, who was convicted in 1990 of smothering and killing her infant son, was denied a new trial in Allegan County Circuit Court by Judge George Corsiglia.

Wayland High School junior Christine Holbin was selected Miss Dorr in the annual pageant.

Marsha Brower, owner of the Colonial Kitchen, was the winner of the mock election for Dorr’s first mayor, defeating opponents Paul Davis, Bob Wagner, Dave Stableton, Fred Holbrook, Gene VanPutten, Larry Sturdivant and Sharon Fifelski.

The Dorr Township Board has reluctantly agreed to split the costs of maintaining 146th Avenue from 18th to 12th Streets with The Allegan County Road Commission.

50 Years Ago — July 5, 1967

Allegan County Road Commission Engineer-Manager Fred Neils was to be guest speaker at the July 11 meeting of the Wayland Chamber of Commerce. He is expected to talk about the Road Commission’s policies.

Eileen Liska, a 1966 Wayland High School graduate and a sophomore at Michigan State University, is spending her summer in Russia as part of an exchange program by Justin Morrell College at MSU.

Mr. and Mrs. Dean Ellinger were two members of the first graduating class at Grand Valley State University. She is the former Mary Reurink of Dorr. The newlyweds toured Europe after receiving degrees and he plans to begin teaching at Grand Rapids Union High School in the fall.

The Wayland Queen Pageant, scheduled for Aug. 12 at the high school auditorium, will operate for the first time under the same rules as the Miss America contest.

Mr. and Mrs, Steve Velicky of Dorr are visiting their native Czechoslavakia this summer.

Former Editor-Publisher Rollo G. Mosher, in his “Observations Here and There” column, commented, “With the outlawing of some forms of fireworks, the celebrating of the Fourth has become sort of a tame affair, as far as racket is concerned. In the old days, the bombardments started at daybreak and ranged from the use of giant firecrackers to toy cannons, dynamite and blacksmith anvils.

Janice Brenner was selected Miss Martin that town’s annual queen pageant.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Franks, missionaries to Venezuela, gave a slide presentation of their work at the Wayland Calvary Church. Mrs. Franks is the former Judy Winger of Green Lake.

State Rep. James Farnsworth of Plainwell is calling for an investigation of the “skyrocketing” costs of the Medicare program.

Ray Menzel and Mary Lou Worfel were winners of the table tennis tournament and Menzel was the winner in the grand championship finals showdown.

“Eight on the Lam,” starring Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller, was showing at the Wayland Theatre.

Fr. Adelbert Radowski and his predessor, Msgr. Edmund Falicki, will oversee the 50th jubilee celebration of Sts. Cyril & Methodius, Gun Lake.

The Association’s “Windy” continued to top the musical charts nationwide.

75 Years Ago — July 10, 1942

Earl E. Herman, 53, of Allegan suffered head injuries when he was struck by a Pet Milk truck driven by Clifford Schwartz of Wayland ner the Pine Rest Sanitarium in Grand Rapids. Authorities said it appeared that Herman, a patient at Pine Rest, deliberately stepped into the path of the truck.

The roll call for attendees of the next potluck and meeting of the Wayland Garden Club at the Rod and Gun Club will be patriotic quotes.

Work on improvements to the road running north from Wayland to Moline has commenced by workers from the Grand Rapids Paving Co. The project is expected to be completed by Sept. 1.

The federal government plans to ban the use of asphalt and bituminous to save the materials for the war effort. This means plans for paving streets in the village may be in jeopardy.

With the growing scarcity of sugar, area beekeepers are being called on to provide an alternative with honey.

The Wayland Catholic Women have organizd as an auxiliary group for the new parish in Wayland. Mrs. C.A. Dickinson is president and Mrs. Albert Reider vice president and Mrs. Jack Gurney is in charge of children’s enrollment.

Mrs. Louis Japinga has been selected chair of the local Sugar Board and will be assisted by Jack Gurney and John Arbanas.

Elaine Zeerip was able to reconnect with a pen pal living in the Netherlands, despite the war conditions in that country, through efforts by the American Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland.

Lt. George Cozzens and Marshall Towne were in Wayland on brief military leave.

An advertisement boasted that all members of the Barry County of Supervisors support Kim Sigler of Hastings in his bid for a State Senate seat from this area.

Now showing at the Wayland Theatre:

  • Donald M. Barry and Fay McKenzie in “Remember Pearl Harbor.”
  • Lloyd Nolan and Marjory Weaver in “The Man Who Wouldn’t Die.”
  • George Sanders and Lynn Bari in “The Falcon Takes Over.”
  • Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,” featuring SABU.
  • Adolph Menjou, Jackie Cooper, Bonita Granville and George Bancroft and the All-American Dance Band in “Syncopation.”

100 years Ago — July 6, 1917

Maria Kesler, 75, widow of Peter Myers, Henry Randall and Luther Fisher died at home of “neuralgia of the heart” and “bore her suffering with patience until the very end.”

Editor-Publisher George Mosher, in describing the Fourth of July celebrations: “It seemed as though everyone must own an auto and everybody and turned loose” in leaving town for the holiday festivities in Allegan. However, around noon, the local “stay at homes appeared at the park with picnic baskets to hear speeches by orator John C. Ketchum of Hastings and entertainment by the Rev. Fay C. Wing. Ketchum spoke of the many hardships faced by prisoners at Andersonville during the Civil War.

A recent change in mail service by train to twice delivery each day is “making it about the poorest mail service that we have been getting in a number of years.”

The July 12 meeting of the Wayland Grange will have attendees answer roll call by naming famous farmers. The topics for discussion will be “Are today’s farmers keeping pace with the rest of the world?” and “Can the farmer adjust his work to the eight-hour scale of other occupations?”

A picture and feature story showcased “The Modern South High School in Grand Rapids.”

A full house of enthusiasts greeted speaking guest Lawyer Tomlinson at the Methodist Protestant Church, Gun Lake. His presentation focused on patriotism. Miss Raymond of Yankee Springs and Mrs. Ball sang selections.

A major rainstorm flooded roads and home basements in the southeast portion of Allegan County.

Mrs. Lyman Ehle was named chairwoman of the newly-organized American Red Cross chapter in Dorr.

Weekly Woman Legislator Feature No. 7 — Mrs. Emma Pauline O’Neill of Arizona, who has been spearheading a legislative effort on behalf of suffrage in a state that entered the Union only five years ago.

Mrs. L. P. Fisher died at her home in Howard City. She had been a longtime resident of Leighton Township.

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