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Douglas County Past: Wisconsin celebrates 'Mortorelli Day'; Cat hoarding case triggers calls

From the July 30, 1987 Telegram: "A bronzed plaque mounted on one of the old Arrowhead Bridge footings and featuring the likeness of the late Americo “Mertz” Mortorelli will be unveiled Friday as part of the festivities being held to pay tribute to a legendary sports pioneer and dedicated community ambassador."

Douglas County Past graphic
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune
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July 29, 1947

Swimmer’s body found under diving tower

Funeral services for James Rodney Christianson, 15-year-old drowning victim, whose body was found shortly after 5 p.m. Monday at Pattison Park lake, will be held Wednesday, 2 p.m. at the First Covenant Church.

Listen: Roth's department store in Superior was ahead of its time

The Christianson boy’s body was found wedged under a protruding log on the piling of the diving tower after the artificial lake at the park had been drained. Christianson’s death was the second at Pattison lake Sunday. Stanley Orlich, 19, of Duluth was also drowned at the park, and his body was recovered late Sunday night. In both instances, the two victims had slipped out of sight with no one being aware of their plight for several hours.

Christianson had gone swimming with a friend about 2:30 p.m. Sunday and apparently drowned sometime between then and 5 p.m. when his companion sought unsuccessfully to find him. Thinking the boy had gone home, he did not report that he was missing. Mrs. Christianson reported that the boy had not come home late Sunday night and the search was started.

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July 29, 1987

Poundmaster busy after cat incident

It’s been raining cats and dogs lately for Superior Poundmaster Tom Nord.

Ever since Nord and members of the Douglas County Health Department and the Humane Society of Douglas County impounded 45 cats from a Superior trailer house on July 11, the city pound has been deluged with calls about residents with “too many animals in their possession.”

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Superior Poundmaster Tom Nord. July 29, 1987 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

“It’s been unreal — usually I’ll have seven or eight calls a day about stray animals or whatever, but the other day I had 23 calls,” said Nord. “Once the news about this lady with the cats got out, people have been calling.”

Former Superior woman Daisy Byers was charged in Douglas County Circuit Court last week with a state offense of cruelty to animals and three city ordinance violations of failure to provide food, water and care of animals, confining animals in a cruel manner and having more than three animals in a residence.

Byers, who pleaded innocent to the charges, is free on her own recognizance pending pretrial conferences.

July 30, 1987

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Memorial unveiling and street renaming will be held Friday

A bronzed plaque mounted on one of the old Arrowhead Bridge footings and featuring the likeness of the late Americo “Mertz” Mortorelli will be unveiled Friday as part of the festivities being held to pay tribute to a legendary sports pioneer and dedicated community ambassador.

Listen: Garden clubs helped Superior blossom

Throughout the state, “Mortorelli Day” will be observed, following proclamations by Gov. Tommy Thompson and Superior Mayor Herb Bergson in recognition of Mortorelli’s many achievements, including introduction into 10 Halls of Fame across the nation.

The highlight of the festivities will be the renaming of Boundary Avenue, which runs behind Ole Haugsrud football field and UWS’ Gates Arena, to “Mortorelli Drive.”

Mortorelli, longtime UWS athletic director, educator and coach, kept that road “hot” for more than 34 years as it was his direct path to work and play.

For many, the road name change carries deeper meaning and significance because of the fact Mortorelli’s work and the impact that he had on so many lives “knew no boundary.”

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The late Americo “Mertz” Mortorelli stands on the bleachers at Ole Haugsrud Field on the UW-Superior campus. July 30, 1987 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

July 31, 1987

Group seeks support to beautify bayfront

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“If we don’t do something to the bayfront area within two years, we might as well level it, put blacktop on it and just use it as parking for shuttle buses to run to Bayfield and Duluth,” said Tom Hendrickson, director of Fairlawn Historical Museum and a member of a group of citizens interested in renovating the Barker’s Island area to attract more tourists to Superior.

The group is proposing to raise $2.5 million to improve the area’s existing facilities and construct a Great Lakes Heritage Center on Barker’s Island.

While Hendrickson is supportive of the entire plan, his primary concern, he said, is the repair and revitalization of the 97-year-old Superior landmark (Fairlawn), which is in danger of not being around to celebrate its centennial.

Garon Mills is ‘up and running’

Garon Knitting Mills is “up and running” in Superior and company co-owner and chairman Tom Maas couldn’t be more pleased.

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Elma Tuomi finishes work on stocking caps by sewing the ends closed on pre-knitted tubes. The sewing and knitting operations occupy separate floors in the four-story plant. July 31, 1987 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

It’s been a long time since Oct. 2, 1986, when Maas and former Mayor Bruce C. Hagen announced the 80-year-old Duluth business would be relocating to Superior.

In between came the acquisition of the former Jeno’s Pizza manufacturing plant at 1901 Winter St. and converting it from food processing facility into one which would be turning out thousands of knit outerwear garments every day.

Aug. 1, 1947

Superior’s most welcomed guests back

Speaking for himself as well as for the New York Giants, Head Coach Steve Owen offered Thursday night that “It’s good to be back.” Owen was particularly pleased about the weather.

“Its been a regular hot-box back east,” the stout head man of the New York National League football team declared as he relaxed on his favorite parking spot, the front porch of Crownhart Hall, home of the Giants for the month of August.

“Yes, this cool air feels awfully good.”

Allouez bean bake is huge success

Four gallons of delicious Boston baked beans were enjoyed by a large crowd Thursday night at the Franklin school playgrounds.

The beans baked in the ground by a special method by children of the playground, under the supervision of Mrs. Michael Plachta, playground director, were declared by all to be delicious.

The bean bake was such a huge success that children of the Franklin area plan on having similar events in the future.

Aug. 1, 1987

Old-timer tells tales of timber, trapping days

SOLON SPRINGS — Times are not now what they once were. In the Lake Superior region changes came swift and everlasting. Only those who recall back eight or nine decades can tell the stories of a vanished era firsthand.

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At 93 years of age, Ben Kreiner's memory stretches back to turn-of-the-century Douglas County. This photo was taken at the mini-park Ben has built behind the Bashara Apartments in Solon Springs. Aug. 1, 1987 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Among the old timers is Ben Kreiner — an elderly gentleman of 93 years who today resides at Solon Springs, and whose ancestry includes not only one of the first white men to settle the region, but also the Indians who were here far longer.

Kreiner was born in 1894 just northeast of Webster near Devils and Connors Lakes. The latter lake was named after the family of Ben’s maternal grandfather, Benjamin Connor, who might well be given credit for being the first white man to settle at Superior. For when George Stuntz arrived to survey the site of a city in 1853, he found Benjamin Connor and his brother building a preemption shanty on what is today known as Connors Point.

“They both married daughters of an Indian chief named Nee-wa-wash-kum from Fon du Lac. So my mother was half Chippewa,” Kreiner said.

He was told that as a child all he could speak was Chippewa. He still knows some of the Indian language. In 1901 his mother sent him to the Indian school at Tower, Minnesota. When he left and came back in 1903, the sign at the train station still read White Birch — it was not yet called Solon Springs.

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Two boys on Lake Minnesuing halt their play to watch a couple ducks float by while their dad, Jim Yadon, Bennett, strums his guitar in the foreground at Douglas County Park. July 29, 1987 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram
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The world’s only waltzing elephant is shown being directed in its dance by Joan Gunderson, trainer. Donna Ely and Doris Raulerson were the hidden performers in the act and did an excellent job of waltzing “Jumbo.” Aug. 1, 1947 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram
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Erick Olson of Poplar is pictured with one of the 40-pound king salmon he caught while fishing in the Talkeetna River near Talkeetna, Alaska. He also caught a 102-pound halibut in the Prince William Sound. Olson was fishing on board the SISU, owned by Alvin Heikkila, formerly of Maple, who resides in Eagle River, Alaska. Olson is a sophomore at Northwestern High School, Maple. Aug. 1, 1987 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Articles and pictures courtesy of retired librarian Judy Aunet with Superior Public Library.

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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