This is the inaugural edition of “Leader Look Back,” a collection of stories and headlines from 75, 50, 25 years ago this week. This week’s edition examines stories from Jan. 9 to 16, 1937, 1962 and 1987.
75 years ago: A closing order for the village of New Bremen was about to be lifted. The order closed schools, churches, shows and other public gatherings because of an outbreak of scarlet fever. In an effort to protect public health, Mayor Frank D. Kunning and the municipal board of education enacted the closure. On Jan. 12, under the order of Dr. R.C. Hunter, the county health commissioner, schools resumed classes. The Roosevelt Theater reopened with a showing of “Song of the Saddle,” starring Gene Autry.
The Western Ohio Fish and Game Association released 106 rabbits in the community. The animals were brought in from Kansas at a cost of 68 cents each and many members of the group sought a ban on hunting rabbits.
A news brief was published soliciting volunteers to form a civic organization in St. Marys. The group was sought as a way to tackle matters that affected all residents of St. Marys, including playgrounds, festivals and other recreational opportunities.
On Jan. 14, a story recounts how Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Hawkey were rescued by Patrolman Alvin Bubp from the St. Marys River’s rising waters. Bubp rowed a boat out to the Hawkeys and rescued the couple, in addition to their cat and dog.
Flood waters also threatened the presses at The Evening Leader as the newspaper printed at 10:30 a.m. — three and a half hours earlier than usual. The rising waters only permitted three pages to be printed that day.
The St. Marys River flooded farmland north and south of the city. Water poured from its banks. The Miami and Erie Canal sustained a minor break because of water pressure. Foreman John Sunderland monitored the situation throughout the night. At one point, the water from the canal and river almost merged, but the banks were quickly built back up. State Highway 54, southeast of town, was closed because of flood waters as was State Highway 66, north of the city. Lake St. Marys also rose to its highest level in 15 years.
50 years ago: The home of LeRoy Obringer, located 4 miles southeast of New Bremen, burned down. Firefighters from New Bremen, Kettlersville and Minster fought the blaze in sub-zero temperatures and three firefighters were injured. New Bremen Fire Chief Bob Gruebmeyer said the fire started at 2 a.m. because of ineffective wiring in the kitchen. Six trucks were on hand one of the firefighters suffered cuts on his hand while the other two were overcome by smoke.
An open house was held in New Bremen to discuss school topics. Among them was the idea of consolidation.
Board of Education President James Ashbaugh gave a report about his talks with Minster regarding consolidation. He noted Minster officials did not seem interested in consolidation and had their own plans to expand. He said he planned to talk with New Knoxville officials at a later date.
ODNR’s Chief Engineer Ned E. Williams told Lake Improvement Association President Judge Carleton C. Reiser the only permanent solution to solve Lake St. Marys’ flooding issues was to improve the outlet channels from the lake to facilitate lowering of the lake during high flows.
No foul play was suspected in the death of Walter Bowers. Bowers was found dead in a water-filled ditch near his cabin near Jack Fry Landing on the south shore. Witnesses said Bowers left the cabin to get some tobacco but did not return.
The appropriations for 1962 in the city of St. Marys were $798,654.56. The appropriations ordinance included $19,000 for capital improvements, the majority of which went to take care of drainage along South Street. The mayor received a salary of $3,000.
City Solicitor Ed Noble stressed the need for a master plan for the city. Noble said among the greatest needs for the city was a bypass highway to relieve the congestion along Spring Street caused by traffic going between State Route 29 and U.S. 33.
The 1961 Memorial High School football season ended up $858.86 in the red, according to a financial report. Paid admission for the season was 9,921 — down 73 from the previous year. The average attendance was 1,984 — with a high of 2,263 for the Greenville game. The Wapakoneta game drew 1,512 because of rainy conditions. Season ticket sales totaled 417.
25 years ago: The St. Marys School District opened bids for the construction of an 18,000 square-foot Tri Star Career Compact located along McKinley Road. Business Manager Darwin Zeigler said the pre-engineered metal structure had an estimated cost of $800,000 was scheduled to be completed by Aug. 15. Voters approved a 2.5-mill levy in November to fund the project.
Officials were in New Bremen to break ground for the construction of Auglaize Industries’ new building on Boesel Street. The 23,852 square-foot structure was being built on 3.5 acres of land donated by Crown Equipment. The building was made possible by the approval of a 0.45-mill levy, which generated $1.6 million during a 20-year period. The building was expected to open in August.
St. Marys City Councilors approved 1987 appropriations in the amount of $14.6 million.
A 17-year-old St. Marys male was arrested for the July 12 rape and murder of 11-year-old Betty Marie Head, of rural St. Marys. Auglaize County Prosecutor Mark Spees said the delinquency charge was the only charge filed at the time and he declined comment as to whether or not he would seek to have the juvenile tried as an adult.
Members of the St. Marys Board of education voted to increase the base salary for teachers from $15,500 to $16,400 — an increase of 5.8 percent. Members also approved a $7.1 million budget for the district’s fiscal year.