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50th anniversary

Serving Verona since 1969


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Thursday, July 2, 2015 Vol. 51, No. 6 Verona, WI Hometown USA ConnectVerona.com $1

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MP#6973

Verona gets a backbone


50 years ago,
a newspaper
succeeded where
others had failed

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A very different
place in 1965
Jim Ferolie
Verona Press editor

Jim Ferolie
Verona Press editor

In May 1965, Verona was small, but growing quickly.


It had fewer than 2,000 residents, and the highways
that served Verona
went right through
the middle of town,
on bumpy, dangerMiller and Sons
ous roads that still
Verona Electric
had gravel parking
spots. Madison was
Ace Hardware (Verona
10 miles away.
Hardware)
The library was
Verona Plumbing and
housed in a single
Glass
(1967)
room inside an old
bank building, and
Kelleys Market (Mobil)
its addition a year
Carnes Corporation
later meant getEllis Manufacturing
ting one extra room
because the police
Johnsons Barber Shop
department moved.
American Legion Post 385
The newly formed
Verona Area Public
Schools was a loose
collection of 13
rural, single-school
Harrington Chevrolet
districts with mostly
one-room schoolBank of Verona
houses.
Verona Furniture
The community
had existed for more
Verona Pharmacy
than 100 years, but
Grabandt and Mani grocery
our annual festiFischl Lanes
val was still several years off, and
Kamm-Ann Lanes
nobody had even
Eagles Nest supper club
yet tried to apply the
The Inn at the Auditorium
phrase "Hometown
USA" here.
A&W Root Beer
Miller and Sons
Verona Lumber
was one-tenth the
size it is now and
Blizards True Value
had two competitors
just down the street
in Paars Market and Grabandt and Mani. There was one
bank a 63-year-old independent one one community

Still around

Flipping through the brittle, yellowed pages of the


16-page inaugural Verona
Press issue, on May 27,
1965, they look much like
any other issue from the
1960s.
Theres one hard news
story surrounded by a
hodgepodge of fluffier
blurbs about scouts and
school kids and engagements and upcoming
events, along with photos
of stone-faced people posing or staring at the camera and quite a bit of selfcongratulation thrown in.
It was a different time then,
and publisher Butler Delaney even felt it necessary
to add an editorial explaining why Verona needed a
newspaper.
One notable reason a
newspaper was the backbone of any community, it
said, was reporting on such
things as the local PTA and
homemaker clubs.
These days, it would
be hard to find anyone in
Verona whos ever been
part of a homemaker club,
much less find a newspaper
report about it, but the mission remains the same to
keep people connected to
their neighbors through feature stories and bits about
local happenings, while
of course keeping them
informed about important
goings-on with their local
governments.
Lest anyone wonder
whether the Press had a
hard edge to it in the early
days, it certainly did.
Original editors David and
Gabriella Mickey Enersen got progressively more
involved in government and
business stories until they
upset too many people in
February 1966, just prior to
the high school referendum,
and Henry Schroeder took
over as editor/co-publisher
a couple of months later.
Schroeder, who ran the paper
until 1998, on many occasions fired off an angry editorial or sharply worded

Above, part of a full-page ad from


Rohdes restaurant in downtown
Madison in the first issue.
Left, a story from that May 27,
1965, issue introducing the
staff of the Verona Press. A year
later, Henry Schroeder took over
nearly all operations.
Below, a photo from Oct. 28,
1965, showing two men cleaning up their mess after defacing
the water tower.

Gone but not


forgotten

Turn to 1965/Page 7

Schroeder, Delany built firm


foundation that still stands
Jim Ferolie
Verona Press editor

When local leaders approached Butler Delany about


starting a newspaper in Verona in 1965, their desires
had almost reached a point of desperation.
Twice in the previous six years a newspaper had
opened and closed in Verona.
According to former Press editor Karl Curtis Sesqucentennial History of Verona: 1847-1997, the Verona
Reporter lasted six months in 1959 and a Middleton
Times-Tribune spinoff was around for an even a shorter
time than that.
Prior to that point, the Times-Tribune, Mount Horeb

Turn to Leadership/Page 6

Turn to 50/Page 4

HAPPY 50TH VERONA PRESS!

Weve been growing with Verona for 8+ Years...


Looking forward to many more to come!

Dr. Tami S. Hunt, OD


Dr. Emmylou Wilson, OD

320 S. Main, Verona 608-848-5168 VeronaVisionCare.com

That was then...

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Verona Press

This is NOW!

July 2, 2015

The Verona Press

50th Anniversary

Where are they now?


Verona Press founder
Butler Delany died in
1999, and longtime editor/publisher Henry
Schroeder followed in
2013. But the Press spoke
with other former leaders
of the newspaper to find
out what theyre up to.
Mark Peterson (19881995) is still in the newspaper business, having
for the past 15 years
edited a similar paper in
Stewartville, Minn. He
initially moved to Texas
before Schroeders son
Bill hired him shortly
after purchasing the
Stewartville Star.
Bill Schroeder had
tried to buy the paper
after he couldnt get his
dad to sell the Verona
Press by itself to him. He
stuck around for a while
after Woodward Communications purchased
Schroeder Publications in
1998, then purchased the
Star in 1999.
Curtis, who had lived
here for several years
before he started writing
here part-time under Harville in 1996, is still very
much involved in the
Verona community as the
executive director of the
Verona Area Chamber of
Commerce.
And Harville, who
now goes by Deb Holbrook, used a life-changing experience while
researching a story in her
last year here to eventually become an ordained
minister in Madison.

ConnectVerona.com

Press inspires futures for pair of high schoolers


Scott Girard

Mark Peterson

Unified Newspaper Group

Dates served: July 1988-July 1995


Living in: Stewartville, Minn.
Now working as: Editor, Stewartville Star
Describe Verona at the time: The people were really friendly.
There were some hotly debated issues.
What it was like working at the Press: Hard work, but it was
also fun at the same time.
What did the newspaper bring to the community: We kept
people abreast of how the government was spending their
money. There were a lot of interesting people we wrote about.

Deb (Harville) Holbrook


Dates served: July 1995-June 1998
Living in: Southwest side of Madison
Now working as: Commissioned minister at United Church of
Christ for health care and hospice
Describe Verona at the time: When we moved from La Crosse,
we were told go to Verona (because) it has the best school system
in the state. The sports teams seemed really important, and the
community theater. There was a housing boom and the school
boom. Lots of attendance at school board meetings.
What was it like working at the Press: Henry (Schroeder) gave
me a break. I went from being the front secretary to being the
editor without any real experience at it except watching what was
going on. Butler was still cutting and pasting the classified ads.

Karl Curtis
Dates served: June 1998-March 2006
Living in: Verona
Now working as: Executive director of Verona Area Chamber of
Commerce
Describe Verona at the time: We were moving from small
town to small city. Everything had a political edge to it.
What was it like working at the Press: I used to save all my
stories on a 3.5 inch floppy disk and bring them down to Oregon.
We still waxed (stories and photos) and placed them by hand. I
went from being Mrs. Curtis husband to a local celebrity.
What did the newspaper bring: A sense of identity, really.
People just loved getting their picture in the paper. They really took
ownership. Henry Schroeder when he hired me, one of the things
he wanted to do was make the paper more active and especially
liven up the papers editorial page. We succeeded in doing that.

Rick Fetherston and Ken


Behnke were copy editors
at the Verona High Schools
Indian Echoes newspaper when the Verona Press
came into existence.
Shortly after, though,
the Press editors wanted a
better pipeline to the high
school, and they asked the
pair to begin the High
School Hi-Lites section
they covered until their
graduation in June 1967.
The two would expand
their work beyond the covering the high school, and
they provided continuity
through early editorial transitions, Fetherston said.
Now, both still live in
Verona, having spent many
of their years in a similar
fashion they did to those
years at the Press in the
1960s.
Fetherston became a
television reporter and
local news anchor, working for Channel 3 and
15 for 22 years. He then
worked for American Family Insurance for another
22 years in their corporate
communications office
before retiring last year.
I basically spent my
career in communications,
and it all started with the
Press, Fetherston said. I
had considered the Verona
Press the start of my journalistic career.
The Press didnt change
Behnkes career path quite
so much he worked for

Behnke and Fetherston handled the High School Hi-Lites column


from fall 1965 until their graduation in spring 1967.

years in the U.S. Postal


Service and is now a Realtor but hes certainly
spent his share of time
using knowledge he picked
up while at the paper.
After helping to initiate
Town Board coverage at
the Press and also covering governmental bodies
like the Village and School
boards and the fire district,
Behnke has spent decades
serving in elected positions
on those very same bodies.
I saw firsthand how
everything worked, Behnke said.
He spent eight years on
the Verona Town Board,
20 on the fire district
commission and has been

serving on the Verona


Area school board since
1995.
I always had an interest in politics and government at that level, he said.
Most people have no idea
of how local government
works and all the little
minutiae involved.
Fetherston said it didnt
surprise him to see Behnke or himself continuing
some of what they did back
in the late 1960s for the
Press.
That really must have
inspired within Ken a real
strong interest in government, he said. It certainly inspired and confirmed
my interest in journalism.

Congratulations Verona Press on 50 Years!


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50th Anniversary

ConnectVerona.com

July 2, 2015

The Verona Press

District different, issues often the same


Scott Girard
Unified Newspaper Group

The addition to this


building is needed because
of the growth in the area
served by the village elementary school. All classrooms in the village school
are presently in use, and
with the normal growth
Verona is undergoing, we
shall have no place to put
the additional children in
the village school unless the
four-room addition is constructed.
Printed on Sept. 16, 1965,
that quote (with more current phrasing, including
that Verona is a city) could
easily have been uttered
this year by Verona Area
School District superintendent Dean Gorrell.
But the superintendent of
the newly established Verona Area Public Schools was
talking about the needs of a
much smaller district, one
that had a budget of only
$795,347 for the 1965-66
school year.
John Lawrence was the
districts first superintendent, beginning with the
consolidation of Verona
schools in December 1964.
Before then, many rural
elementary schools around
the area fed into Verona
High School, but there had
been no central leadership
or organization.
There was no one
authority over the whole
district, explained Ken
Behnke, a member of the

Above, the 60 students in the Verona High School class of 1965. Below, the Andrew Henry schoolhouse, one of the rural schools used by
the district. The building, at the corner of Whalen Road and Old PB, is now used as a private residence.

Verona Area School Board


since 1995. Behnke was a
high school student at the
time of the consolidation.
But even after the merger,
it was structured differently
from todays district. Four
of the rural school buildings
remained in operation for
grades K-6 under the districts oversight, while the
district ran the Verona Elementary, Junior and Senior
High School buildings for
students within the village

and grades 7-12.


Developments covered
in the Press throughout
1965 included rapidly rising enrollment, land acquisition and a study that laid
out a 10-year plan for the
districts growth.
While those same issues
still come up regularly in
the Press 50 years later,
Behnke recalled a much
different student body.
Beyond simply the size
60 students, small enough

to fit in a photo on the front


page the students had
much more similar backgrounds than today.
There was no diversity,
Behnke said. Thats just the
way the community was.
He laughed as he recalled
a story of a student being
sent home because he
wasnt wearing a belt, and
explained that shorts were
not even thought of as an
option to wear to school.
Behnke has witnessed
the changes up-close as a
school board member for
the last 20 years, and said
the school system has just
become a lot more complex
from many different perspectives.
You didnt see the differential in wealth and poverty that you see now in the
school district, he said.
Students with learning disabilities I dont think were
served as well as they are
now.
The larger the system

gets, the more complicated


it gets.
It was getting larger
quickly in those early years,
with 1,114 students enrolled
for the 1965-66 school year
and electors approving a
four-room addition to the
elementary school because
schools were full everywhere.
To help with that same
problem, 1965 was also the
first year for the Verona
Junior High School, which
housed seventh- and eighthgrade students to ease the
burden on the rural elementary schools and Verona
Elementary School, now
known as Sugar Creek.
Those rural schools also
served a purpose as community centers, Behnke
recalled, helping create a
closer social network in
rural areas.
Over the years, the district sold off those buildings, like Valley View,
Camp Badger and Gordon.

Those sales began in 1965,


when the district sold
White, McPherson, Andrew
Henry and Shaller schools.
The district sold the final
of the rural schools, Maple
Grove, in 2000.
The years shortly after
1965 wouldnt slow down
for school coverage in the
Press, with a new high
school open in 1968 and
controversy when Lawrence
submitted a surprise resignation Sept. 23, 1968. Rick
Fetherston, who graduated
from VHS in 1967 but continued to correspond for the
Press, recalled the meeting.
I remember covering
that, and it was a big story,
Fetherston said.
Lawrence told the board
the anti-administration
and anti-Lawrence feeling that some people have
in the District could get
in the way of solving the
problems facing education,
according to Fetherstons
article.
The board voted to accept
Lawrences resignation at
an Oct. 7, 1968, meeting.
The district has had many
superintendents since
including now-state superintendent of schools Tony
Evers and again and
again, it asked voters to
approve referendums for
land purchases and buildings as growth continued.
Last years attendance
was more than 5,000, and
the preliminary budget for
the 2015-16 school year:
$62.9 million.

Kathy Bartels...

FROM ONE HOMETOWN BUSINESS TO ANOTHER...


CONGRATULATIONS VERONA
PRESS ON 50 YEARS!

22 Years in the
Verona Area
School District!

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July 2, 2015

50th Anniversary

The Verona Press

ConnectVerona.com

50: Press was third newspaper to give Verona a try; early crew didnt last long
Continued from page 1

50 years of big stories

news story about an illegal


closed session or a questionable decision from the Village Board. He pulled no
punches with those in power
and made himself into a
community leader, presiding
over the chamber of commerce and other community
organizations and even running for County Board and
state Assembly.
Schroeder eventually
kicked himself upstairs as
publisher but continued to
contribute columns, even
for a few years after selling Schroeder Publications
to current parent company
Woodward Communications, which already owned
the Stoughton Courier Hub.
Woodward soon sold a couple of Schroeder papers and
renamed the collection as
Unified Newspaper Group.
Over the years, the Press
went through several editors, including Mark Peterson (1988-95), Deb Harville
(1994-98) and Karl Curtis
(1998-2006), leading to current editor Jim Ferolie.
The Press has gone
through dozens of employees and contributors over
the years, and one of the first
was a writer who continues
to be well-known in Verona
50 years after he took his
first job here. Ken Behnke,
a semiretired postal worker
(and current Realtor) has
spent the past 20 years on the
school board, but he started
his working career in high
school, co-writing the High

Fire destroys Paoli grocery, tavern 1966


New high school opens 1968
Quasquicentennial starts a tradition 1972
Village president resigns under pressure 1977
Verona becomes a city 1978
Cable TV controversies 1978-82
Charter school and referendum debates 1990s
U.S. 18-151 bypass opens 1995
FitzRandolph and Neil Walker win gold 2000,
2002, 2004
Signing/arrival of Epic 2002-05
Triple homicide 2003
Bank of Verona sells 2007
Merger effort fails 2008
EF-3 Tornado destroys school 2014

The first two months of the Verona Press went to every household
in the village, then this ad was in the paper, saying last free week.

School Hi-Lites column with


future WISC-TV news director Rick Fetherston.
Behnke would go on to
cover all sorts of news during college and afterward,
and he was the first person to
cover the Town Board, even
though the town had as many
people as the village back
then. He finally left the paper
to become a trustee on the
Town Board in 1975.
Fetherston, who also still
lives in Verona, recalls how
much the paper energized the
community.
The community hadnt
had a real newspaper, he
told the Press last week.
The community was very
excited about it.
What stood out to both of
them about the Press, particularly in contrast to todays
news coverage, was how
much it was about a day in

the life of average people.


There was more reporting
on everyday life, Behnke
said, noting that the communitys own social network
was organized around rural
schools and 4H clubs. (It
was) some of the stuff youd
see on Facebook now.

The first year


The Press was the third
Verona newspaper to get its
start in a six-year span, and
its original crew didnt last
long. The papers first editor lasted just a year, with
the Enersens, a husband-wife
team, splitting the duties as
managing editor and news
editor, respectively.
(The first editors) were
very energetic and aggressive, Fetherston told the
Press. They ran into a difficulty with a very small group
of business people in town,

Your Hometown
Community Bank

and they, in effect, lost their


jobs.
Until then, they covered
news stories, but to fill the
insides, they relied heavily on submitted sports and
community pieces and compilations from several correspondents who reported on
which families hosted visitors or took trips out of town
or held dinner parties.
Starting that fall, Fetherston and Behnke gave the
rundown on high school
sports, academic groups,
new classes and teachers
(including the introduction
of longtime teacher and cross
country coach Randy Marks)
and anything else that caught
their eye.
The newspaper was free
for two months, then started
charging $1 for four months
as a special introductory rate.
Some notable stories from

the opening of Verona Furniture on the outskirts of the


village, all of which are long
gone.
The paper even poked fun
at itself in honor of the chamber of commerces Crazy
Days promotion by printing
a page of silly, made-up stories under a Verona Mess
flag. Among other things, it
showed a 23-story high-rise
building and claimed a new
high school was opening,
showed a photo of presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and said that favorite
son Harry Coldwater was
coming home and told of
the police chief testing out a
new car with a photo from
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a
movie about a 1920s jalopy
that could fly.
In those days, the Press
office was located on North
Main Street in a house that
was torn down in 2004 to
make way for Walgreens.
It later moved to far newer
facilities at 451 S. Main St.,
which is now an apartment
complex, and then to 120 W.
Verona Ave., now the site of
the Verona Area Chamber of
Commerce.
It was just Henry Schroeder and an office person,
Behnke said of the tiny offices the Press held during those
stints. We just did it on our
typewriters. We would just
bring the stories in.

that year included the imminent closing of Paars Market,


after the death of one co-owner, a strike and subsequent
union vote at Carnes which
had more than 500 employees and a series of profiles
of all the local churches, leading up to two prominent dedications. The first issue of the
Press tells about the upcoming opening of Salem United
Church of Christ, and a few
weeks later, a four-page special advertising section tells
all about the new St. Andrew
Parish building.
Other notable stories and
photos included a shot of
people cleaning graffiti off
the defaced water tower
(which has since been torn The Schroeder years
down) and all sorts of busiBy 1966, Schroeder and
ness news, including a story
about the A&W Root Beer Delany had formed a partshops expansion, the move nership called Southwest
of Harrington Chevrolet and
Turn to 50/Page 5

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Our founders and leaders believe in supporting the


communities they serve. Strong local communities
benefit everybody. Weve been supporting Verona and
its residents for over 30 years. We salute The Verona
Press for 50 years of serving this great city, its residents
and helping it become the vibrant community it is today.

50th Anniversary

ConnectVerona.com

July 2, 2015

The Verona Press

50: Woodward Communications bought Schroeder in 1998


Continued from page 4
Suburban Publications, in
which the two were both
editor and publisher of their
respective territories, Schroeder in Verona and Delany
in Oregon. By 1980, Delany
was ready to retire and sold
his interest to Schroeder.
Schroeder continued to
be the papers editor, but he
sought more and more help
and finally hired Peterson in
1988, a few years after his
son, Bill, joined the family
business out of high school.
Photos were often simplistic set-up shots of people
shaking hands, sitting down
or looking like theyre working hard except for the
occasional submitted photo
of an athletic event or a compilation of several 2-inchwide pictures of a parade. It
wasnt until Bill Schroeder in
the early 1980s that the Press
managed to bring in lively
photos or cover high school
sports on a regular basis.
Eventually, Bill Schroeder
began handling more and
more of the business duties
and editors like Peterson and
Harville took over the news
operations until finally, Henry Schroeder was ready to
retire and spend his winters
in Arizona.
During his more than 30
years with the paper, Henry
Schroeder continued to display his passion for local
government and supporting
local businesses, frequently
offering his opinions over
what the local government
should or shouldnt do.
He was very passionate
about everything, especially
politics and politics within
the communities that he had
papers, Bill Schroeder said.
Henry Schroeder continued to be a firm guiding hand
throughout his time at the
Press, which presided over
Verona becoming a city, the
start of the Hometown Days
tradition, the building of the
first city hall, library and fire
station and all sorts of controversies.
Peterson, who had come
from a smaller paper in Pardeeville, recalls Schroeder as
giving him wide freedom in
a relaxed atmosphere.
And Holbrook, who
worked in the front office
with Peterson for about a
year, recalls Peterson as setting a good tone for her to
follow.
He gave the Press a very
good balanced feel, Holbrook said. I think people

The 1966 widening of West Verona Avenue. A Walgreens is in


place of these buildings, which include Verona Pharmacy.

appreciated that.
Peterson eventually moved
with his family to Texas, and
Holbrook stayed on until
just weeks before Schroeder
sold the group to Woodward
Communications, Inc.
That was happening during the heart of Veronas
transition from small town
to suburban city. Holbrook
remembers when a certain
issue, such as a discussion
over cutting the ag program,
would draw farmers from
around the area.
They would show up in
their bib overalls and everything, she said.

WCI takes over


Curtis was on the job for
just a couple of weeks before
he found out his son had brain
cancer, and shortly after that,
the papers were sold.
(Schroeder) did not let
anybody know, Curtis said.
It was a total surprise.
Despite that sudden
change and Veronas volatility around that time, the Press
has maintained quite a bit
of stability since then, with
Curtis serving eight years and
Ferolie another nine.
Verona was really starting to grow, Curtis said.
We were building houses
so fast the schools couldnt
keep up.
As Verona changed and
grew to 10,000 residents and
beyond, the paper changed,
too, as did peoples perceptions. Computers, the

Internet and digital photography made everything faster,


easier and more complicated
at the same time, and people
began to assert themselves as
part-owners of what they saw
as a community good.
People took the paper
very personally, said Curtis, who would often find
himself delayed just picking
up groceries. It was part of
their community, and they
thought they owned it.
Part of the reason, perhaps, was the tension of the
time. Certain politics have
always gotten people animated from the battles over
fluoridation in the 1960s and
the petition against spending
$600,000 on a City Hall in
the 1970s to charter schools
in the 1990s, but Curtis
served during a particularly
long-lasting period of rowdiness the Target the Basics
movement in the early
2000s, along with vicious
land use fights in the towns,
and drama over expansion
in the city.
Verona was a very active
political place, Curtis said.
We had some of the nastiest school politics you can
ever imagine, and that kind if
filtered into our city politics
and town politics.
That sort of thing had
mostly settled down by the
time Ferolie took over, giving way mostly to growth and
development and generally
cooperative efforts among
and within local governments

CongrATulATionS to the Verona Press for


50 years of service to the Verona community
Electric

Inc.

Readers recall early days


Longtime readers recall
the early days of the Press
as being light on news,
and yet there was still a
draw that led it to survive
long enough to cover some
weighty topics that changed
the face of the city. The
paper grew to be a watchful
eye and a valued resource
for a fast-growing city.
Weve read it every single week for years, said
Linus Stampfl, a Verona
native and former Village Board member whose
fathers name adorns the
high school baseball field.
There wasnt much to it
(in the 1960s). Im surprised that it survived and
it grew into what it is.
Art Cresson got the
paper in the early days but
didnt pay close attention
until he got on the park
board in 1976. Cresson,
who later became a mayor
and is still involved with

the Community Development Authority, said the


paper fostered a deeper
community conversation.
Once we had a newspaper, people started writing letters to the editor and
issues were discussed more
than they would have been
otherwise, he said. I
think people became a little
more aware of what was
happening.
Doreen Stewart moved
to Madison with her husband, Don, in the mid1970s, but shes been a
subscriber from the start.
She told the Press shes
always enjoyed reading
the newspaper both small
and without a lot of news
like the old days, and the
more modern version.
I always enjoyed it, she
said. For as long as weve
lived here (in the Madison area), weve gotten the
paper.

Congratulations
to the Verona Press

Where I held my first job 50 years ago!

Ken Behnke
A Lifetime Commitment to Verona!

with Rick Fetherston,


high school news reporters.

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Since then, the mayor and the
school superintendent have
been constants a rarity in
Veronas history along with
software giant Epics continual growth and Curtis running
the chamber.
Over the years, some of the
big stories the Press has covered included the construction
of the library and the city hall,
and then another library and
another city hall, unionizing
in the public and private sector, contentious battles over
growing subdivisions, growing schools and changing
educational styles, the landing
and arrival of Epic, the fights
over big box stores and the
failed consolidation.
It covered a triple homicide, a couple of bank robberies and a bank shutdown,
a couple of tornados, big
business and big building
projects. School expansion
has been a regular issue
every few years, as has
growth in businesses large
and small, in residential areas
and on roads. Big-time athletes have made their mark,
too, from speedskater Casey
FitzRandolph and swimmer
Neil Walker in the Olympics
to NHL player Jack Skille.
But for Holbrook, what
stands out are the little stories that people cared deeply
about.
I was always surprised at
how people really thought it
mattered, she said. People
saved stories where the kids
were mentioned and its still
in their scrapbook.
UNG reporter Scott Girard
contributed to this story.

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www.KenBehnke.FirstWeber.com
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July 2, 2015

50th Anniversary

The Verona Press

ConnectVerona.com

Leadership: Schroeder got involved locally; Delany had worked with papers his whole life
Continued from page 1
Mail, the Capital Times all carried Verona news, much of it written by Alice Kuntsman. And for
17 years, there was Emily Elders
three-page mimeographed newsletter called the Verona Reminder
that carried ads and light society
news.
But Verona needed its own professional newspaper to be more
fully galvanized as a community.
Delany granted that wish, but for
most of the time he was involved
with the newspaper, he was almost
completely hands-off. He hired a
husband-wife editing team for the
first several months, then started a
partnership with Henry Schroeder
in April 1966, and when that happened, a local legend was born.
Schroeder edited, wrote and
published the paper in various amounts from then until his
retirement in 1998, while Delany
focused his efforts on Oregon. He
bought out his partners share of
Southwest Suburban Publications
in 1980, though he kept Delany
employed on a part-time basis for
several years afterward. They created the Fitchburg Star together in
1975.
Neither lived long enough to see
the Verona Press turn 50 years old.
But it wouldnt have happened
without their efforts.
Delany died in 1999 at age 83,
and Schroeder who kept in touch
with the Press, writing columns
and occasionally letters well after
his retirement died in 2013 in
Arizona at age 84.

File photo

Henry Schroeder, left, and Butler Delany, right, introduce the Fitchburg Star in
1975, while holding up their other publications, the Verona Press and Oregon
Observer.

passionate advocate for his community, for local business and for
transparency in government. He
got involved in a variety of ways
locally, from being the chamber
president and chairing the committee that put on the Hometown
Days parade to running for county
and state office and serving as the
president of the state newspaper
association. He would often opine
about national politics and social
issues, but he pulled no punches
when he wrote about local affairs,
skewering anyone who he thought
Schroeder: Active advocate deserved it with his sharp words
While he was still active, par- on the editorial pages and even in
ticularly in the early days, as edi- news stories.
tor/publisher, Schroeder was a
Henry is just a wonderful

character, said former Press editor Deb (Harville) Holbrook, who


held that title from 1994-1998
after starting in the office as a secretary. He was extremely conservative and a total skinflint, but he
always backed me up.
At one point, Schroeder planned
on keeping the business in the
family for the next generation.
He brought his son, Bill, into the
fold shortly after Bill graduated
from high school. He involved
him in business meetings and trips
and getting to know not just writing and photography where Bill
clearly excelled but the publishing end.
I graduated in 1982 and went

full-time pretty much until I left


(in 1999), Bill Schroeder said.
Bill Schroeder applies those lessons today as the publisher of the
Stewartville (Minn.) Star, but he
had to find a new community to
call home after his father decided
to sell the group for his retirement.
He told the Press last week that
he had tried to buy the Verona
paper from his dad, but his father
wanted to keep the group together
and sell it all at once, and that cost
more than he could afford. At that
point, it also included papers in
Fitchburg, Monona and McFarland.
Local lore has it that Schroeder
was willing to sell the newspapers to just about anyone as long
as it wasnt Lee Enterprises, which
continues to own the Wisconsin
State Journal and Capital Times.
That was what led him to sell his
business to an Iowa-based company in Woodward Communications, which continues to own the
Press, Observer, Fitchburg Star
and Stoughton Courier Hub today
as Unified Newspaper Group.
He didnt get along with Lee
Enterprises for various reasons,
but mostly because . he liked
the small business better, Bill
Schroeder said. His impression
of Woodward was more familyoriented than it was big, conglomerate business.
Henry certainly knew how to
carry a grudge, but they didnt last
long locally, his son said. There
would be occasional feud with
people who wanted to spend money in ways he thought was reckless such as a band director who
wanted the school board to pay for
a band trip to Florida in the 1970s
but he pretty much got along
with everybody, Bill said.

Delany: Veteran publisher


Delany, meanwhile, stayed on in
a variety of roles after 1980, helping to do paste-up of classified ads,
with Schroeder supporting him
even while Delany began to lose
his ability to work, Holbrook said.
Delany became the face people
would see at the Observer during
those days, Bill Schroeder said.
Butler was getting old, he
added. He was sharp, but he
couldnt do the physical part of it.
But before then, Delany was the
one giving Schroeder a break.
An experienced publisher, he
had purchased the Observer in
1959 after having owned a newspaper in Poynette and serving as
the plant superintendent at the
Sauk Prairie Star.
He had been working with newspapers his whole life, according to
his obituary, learning to operate the
linotype at his grandfathers paper,
the Poynette Press, and taking over
in 1945 at age 29. He and his wife
bought the Observer in 1959, and
when leading businessmen and
community officials from Verona approached him, he agreed to
branch out to a second paper while
keeping his focus on Oregon.
He hired David and Gabriella
Mickey Enersen, former Fox
Lake Representative owners, to
run the Press, and they stayed on
until a big dustup in February 1966
forced them out. Robert Anderson,
a former Sauk Prairie Star editor/
publisher who had worked with
Delany for years, filled in on an
interim basis, and Elder took over
as office manager, closing the
Reminder.
Then came Schroeder, who had
previously done public relations
work with CUNA International.

Serving Verona For Over 11 Years!

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July 2, 2015

The Verona Press

1965: One-room schoolhouses, village space was all rented, debates over fluoridation
Continued from page 1
park, no industrial parks, no
Epic, no Cleary.
The Post Office had just
begun city delivery. And
there wasnt even fluoridated
water or garbage pickup.
But there was finally a
newspaper.
After two previous attempts
had failed, local leaders
pleaded with Oregon Observer publisher Butler Delany to
apply his formula here, and it
stuck. The arrival of the Verona Press heralded the maturation of the community, and as
the village, then city grew, the
paper grew along with it.
John Scharer, who moved
to Verona in 1936, remembers reading the Verona
Reminder in the years before
there was a Verona Press. The
newsletter had a few ads and
was printed out on mimeograph and mailed for free to
everyone.
The Reminder carried bits
of society news and not much
else because that was all
people had needed before.
But as the city got bigger,
people didnt all know one
another anymore.
We werent quite as
close in neighborhoods, he
recalled. Things were happening a few blocks away,
where a few blocks away
wasnt there before.
Don Stewart, whose father
partnered with William Miller
to found the one grocery store
that has survived all of Veronas changes, doesnt live in
Verona anymore, but he is
a regular contributor to the

Photo submitted

With no other community pool, Firemans Park beach was a popular hangout in the 1960s.

communitys historical society and still visits.


His most vivid recollection is how self-contained the
community was, and that it
had just started to grow after
World War II. It still seemed
very far from the urban world
and very small.
If you were going to Madison, you dressed up, he said.
Art Cresson was still new
here in 1965, and he recalls
Verona being far more social
and less active at the same
time.
We used to do more
things with our friends and
neighbors than I see people
do now, he said. Wed get
together with neighbors, play
cards, just socialize.
One example was the
Verona Varieties, which
might be considered an early

forerunner to the Verona Area


Community Theater. Only
there were no trained actors.
A lot of people from the
community would get together and put on these plays,
Cresson said. My wife was
in a couple of them. Ed Faber
he was in a few, Ken Zingg,
he would do the narration.
It was just a bunch of people having fun.

Then and now


Verona was just a different
world 50 years ago.
Carnes, with just over 500
employees, was by far the
biggest employer in the community.
Its newly formed school
district had 13 schools, but
only 60 high school graduates. All of its elementaries
except for the one now

Hometown Comfort & Convenience

known as Sugar Creek


were one-room schoolhouses.
Just this month, the district
graduated 366 students from
its high school, which pulls
from two middle schools and
seven elementaries, most of
which have at least 300 students.
In 1965, Verona had no
municipal buildings of its
own, other than the water
tower pump house. It rented
space for the village hall,
fire station, police station
and library. Even as late as
1980, the city was renting
space at Carnes, where the
mayor worked at the time.
The library and police station shared room in a former
bank building that would later house a doctors office and
liquor store and was finally

torn down in 2005.


This month, the city is
finishing new $10.5 million,
45,000-square-foot fire station and has have nearly $30
million worth of buildings,
including an administration/
police complex and library
that each cost more than $7
million.
Scharer recalls the city just
starting to expand its borders
in the years after World War
II it had been to that point
basically confined to the area
between Marietta and Franklin streets, from just south of
the Paoli Street intersection to
what is now the high school.
Big news in the 1960s was
expansion of the school district and the new buildings
including the high school
in 1968 that came with the
consolidation, which had to
go through a public referendum.
Carnes was growing, too,
and so was everything else
in Verona. There were two
new churches, a new library,
the citys first industrial park
and the widening of the Main
Street-Verona Avenue intersection.
There were lots of complaints over rising taxes, a
plan to establish a county
landfill and of how to stop
Madison from growing too
close. That included the first
discussions about possibly
merging the town with the
city.
One of the most memorable news items was before
the Press existed, when fire
chief Keith Miller the
owner of Miller and Sons
Supermarket chased down

a burglar in 1961 and tackled


him before the police arrived.
He would soon find out that
the burglar had nitroglycerin
in his pocket, which he had
used to blow up a safe.
Big debates included
whether to fluoridate the
water (which did eventually
happen) and whether to build
a combined village building with library and police
(which didnt).
Linus Stampfl, who went
off to the Navy after graduating and then hopped around
Wisconsin for a few years
before settling back down
here in the 1960s and getting married, said Verona
was everything he wanted at
the time small, familiar and
basically boring.
Serving in the military
I got into some really horrible places, he said. A
little place like Verona was a
place I wanted to be.
Stampfl would later serve
on the Village Board, which
didnt spend much or do
much in those days, he said.
That was quite an experience, he said. We had no
money we spent no money
and we never talked about
spending money.
Cresson, too, served on
what would become the
Common Council, then
became mayor in the 1980s.
But long before that, he got a
job at the new post office at
the age of 26, and as a result,
he got to know almost everyone.
I felt Verona was such
a welcoming community,
he said. I hope Verona will
continue to be that way.

Happy Anniversary
Verona Press
and Congratulations
on 50 Years in Verona!

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8 - The Verona Press - 50th Anniversary - July 2, 2015

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