This Week in Odessa History Record cold temps, soldiers home for holidays


December 12, 2019

100 years ago

The Odessa Record

December 14, 1919

News updates: Temperatures dropped to 25 degrees below zero, the coldest on record since Jan. 19, 1913, when it dropped to 19 below.

The government order to cut down train service will not effect the locals operating on the Great Northern, company officials state.

Increases in wages from $10 to $20 a month has been approved for the Odessa teachers.

Edwin A. Zabel, former Odessa boy who has been superintendent of schools at Frazier, Idaho, will give a poetic recital here this week. He is here during a teachers’ strike.

F. L. Guth, Al Wagner, Fred Balmer, D. C. Holmes and C. T. Leedy went to Wheeler to take part in a rabbit drive. About 150 men gathered, armed with shotguns and with three wagons on hand to load the game. So many were killed that finally they were left dead on the field. It is estimated from 3000 to 5000 “jacks” were killed. The local men will organize a drive for this community.

In spite of Tuesday’s blizzard enough service men gathered to form an American Legion post. When necessary papers are completed a charter will be issued.

The coal miners’ strike ended Wednesday acting on President Wilson’s proposal.

Ted Wagner writes from Endicott saying that the fuel famine there is bad, and that patrons are purchasing buckets of coal from their office reserve.

Miss Helen Nechanicky went to Spokane Monday to enroll in Northwestern Business college.

The Rieker Motor company plant at Washtucna was destroyed by fire with a loss of 30 automobiles, four large vans used to carry school children, and three trucks. The company also operates at Ritzville and Odessa.

J. D. Jones of the Hotel Odessa has installed a heating plant to insure the comfort of his guests during cold weather.

The Odessa dancing club held another of its regular dances at the Parish hall, with almost a full membership present.

Otto Wegner came up from Irby Wednesday and is helping out at the City Dray.

Miss Anna M. Mayer has left the state normal school to take a teaching position at Ruff.

75 years ago

The Odessa Record

December 14, 1944

Hold family reunion for visiting soldier: Members of the Henry Hardt family gathered in Odessa over the weekend to honor Sgt. Alvin Hardt, who was home on furlough. He with Mrs. Hardt and Roland, accompanied by Mrs. Clarence Hardt and Delbert, came from Spokane on Friday.

They were joined by Mrs. Otto Gans and Mrs. Harry Goddard, Olympia, and Mr. and Mrs. Chris Hille and children, Yakima, and Mr. and Mrs. Sam Hardt and children, Coulee City.

The reunion was held on Sunday at the Emanuel Dormaier home. Mr. and Mrs. Bill Hardt and Dixie, and Henry Hardt, Odessa, completed the group.

Roland and Delbert Hardt were baptized at the St. Matthews church that day.

Club review shows gains: The standing committees of the commercial club made their reports of the year’s progress at the Wednesday meeting.

The program committee had been outstanding in its work with a full variety of programs, including many outside speakers, two speakers having been brought to make public talks. It was recommended that this continue, and it was announced that a public speaker would be presented at the high school on the night of January 31, as the first of the 1945 series. The Rev. A. Hausauer headed this committee.

The planning committee, E. J. Wachter, and business men’s committee, Howard Moore, had but little to report, having handled routine matters.

Community growth, under R. L. Reiman, reported much correspondence with interested settlers, including a Captain who inquired from North Africa, as well as handling the appearance of Dr. Eric Mann early in the year.

The agriculture committee was not represented, but the report could have covered such activities as the 4-H show and farmer-townsman dinner.

The legislative committee dealt mostly with road problems, it was stated, and W. C. Raugust, chairman, announced that the coming legislative session will find much for this committee to do.

Al Wagner of the business stimulation committee was not present, but it was announced that this group would have Santa Claus on the street December 23. The publicity committee, T. C. Anderson, stressed the publicity being given by the members of the armed services.

Sol Reiman of the finance committee announced that his committee has functioned twice, once to raise funds, and again to guarantee the festival costs, the latter not required, and that financing was a complete success.

George Schiewe, membership committee, announced a ready response, and Secretary M. J. Galle announced a present membership of 147 and a treasury balance of nearly $600.

Special committees reported, the Goodfellows stating that few pre-war toys or coaster wagons had been sent in for the children of the Washington Children’s Home. The decoration committee announced that the Lions club had brought trees and that it was hoped to again have a lighted tree. Santa Claus would appear on the final Saturday before Christmas.

The nominations of Howard Moore, president; R. L. Reiman, vice president, and Rev. M. J. Galle, secretary-treasurer. Election is set for the December 27 meeting.

It was proposed to send delegates to the aviation meeting at Seattle next Wednesday, and Howard Moore and E. J. Wachter were named as club delegates, or to arrange representation.

Sgt. Winston Weber and George Homburg, M 1/c, were present at the meeting and responded to a welcome.

50 years ago

The Odessa Record

December 11, 1969

Tigers pull cliff-hanger out of fire at Wilbur Friday night; Take Lind: The Tiger basketball team pulled a cliff-hanger out of the fire Friday night in the first non-league game of the season at Wilbur. David Wiest tossed in the winning basket for Odessa with but eight seconds to go in the final period, giving the Tigers a 69-68 edge.

Tom Renner was high-point man with 23 followed closely by Neil Jeske with 22. Marty Meise scored 14, Doug Meek 6 and Dave Wiest 4.

The Tigers made 56 attempts, hitting 29 for 52 percent. The Redskins tried 50, made 28 for 56 percent. Odessa pulled down 27 rebounds to 14 for Wilbur.

In the B Squad contest at Wilbur, the opponents took an easy win 59-36. Mark Iksic was high point man for Odessa with 9.

In the C Squad opening game the Wilbur quint again was victorious with a 42-26 score. Clark Kagele was high-point man for Odessa with 9.

Win One, Lose One at Lind

The Tiger A team, hitting a cool 29 percent, was victorious over the Lind basketball team at Lind Saturday night. The final score was Odessa 57 and Lind 46. The Tigers connected with 16 of 56 while the Bulldogs tallied 19 of 67 for 28 percent. The Tigers grabbed 35 rebounds to 32 for Lind.

Neil Jeske was high-point man with 18. Wiest warmed up with 16, Meek 9, Meise 7, Renner 6 and Jim Weber 1. Darrell Dirstine topped the Lind quint with 23.

The Tiger B Squad suffered a 52-36 loss at Lind Saturday night. Greg Haase led the Tiger scoring with 10 points while Brent Thompson tallied 14 as top man for the Lind team.

The first home game of the season, non-league, will be played here tomorrow night when basketball teams from Davenport will be on hand to match baskets with the Tigers. A second home game will follow on Saturday night when the Ritzville Broncos will be hosted.

25 years ago

The Odessa Record

December 15, 1994

Misinformation could kill sewer again: Twenty-five years ago, Odessa looked forward to having a new sewer system. It had been planned and engineered, and a local improvement district had been formed to finance the project.

No one is certain today just what the sewer would have cost. Newspaper files indicate that the price was estimated at $300,000.

Then, doubts and uncertainty set it. A class action suit was filed on a technicality that an LID was not a legal procedure for financing the project. Within a year, after court cases, Odessa’s sewer project was dead.

It was also forgotten.

The sluggish farm economy of the 1970s brought a half to Odessa’s building boom. Scores of new homes had been built during the previous 25 years. Odessa had grown from a population of 817 in 1940 to 1,260 in 1960. From then on, it was downhill, and the town leveled off with about 1,000 inhabitants from 1970 until today.

After the post-World War II surge of young people and new businesses, Odessa settled into a static mode. It became a community largely made up of retirees. Today 60 percent of the population is over 60 years of age.

In these circumstances, residents have been able to muster little enthusiasm about public works improvements including a sewer. Their septic systems have been adequate. If they weren’t, there was a quick fix. Call the septic tank man and he’ll pump it out.

As we have seen, conditions have changed dramatically in the past two years. The government seems almost obsessed with new rules and regulations affecting everything from the crops we grow to the water we drink.

And the water we drink is now the cause of a threat of our way of life here in Odessa. New state and federal regulations will impose new standards on septic systems in order to assure that the aquifer, the source of drinking water, is not contaminated.

To meet these standards, we are told, it may cost every householder $12,000 to install an on-site water sewage system. Of course, that wouldn’t have to be if Odessa had a town-wide waste disposal and sewage system.

Had we known 25 years ago what we do about conditions today we may have been wiser about putting in a sewer. There wasn’t a great deal of sorrow when the sewer project died in 1970. Sweeping the issue under the rug seemed to be the logical course of action then.

In the years to follow, just forgetting about the sewerage problem was easier than solving it. And when the subject was brought up, there were always those who could respond that $20,000 for residents to pay for sewer hookups was simply out of the question.

Twenty thousand dollars? Yes, that’s the figure bantered about by some who are said to be part of an “underground information network.” They are the nameless, nebulous individuals who like to spread gossip. Maybe they don’t exist. But we can be sure that if someone-- anyone-- says that a sewer for Odessa is going to cost every resident $20,000 that word will spread like wildfire all over town.

This is the kind of misinformation we don’t need, whether or not we favor a sewer. And it’s a disturbance we should be able to avoid after the middle of next month.

At that time Wyatt Jaykim, the Odessa Town Council’s consulting engineers for the proposed sewer project, are scheduled to report on a feasibility and engineering study which has determined the cost and what type of waste disposal and treatment facility would best suit Odessa.

Yule lights glow for 24th year: By Linda Gustafson

Every year, the week after Thanksgiving, Christmas lights go up downtown. Few people have a clue as to who does the job or how long it takes. The task is similar to all those things which are taken care of during Deutschesfest-- it is just done.

What’s the origin of Odessa’s Christmas lights? They’ve made their appearance every holiday season for as long as many people can remember.

The story goes that in about 1966 Mike Nichols, Claire McBride and Paul Hopp decided to string lights across downtown streets. Dave Wacker, then Odessa’s Washington Water Power representative, hooked up the electricity for them, and the town began to shine. This was the holiday decor for about three years. At the same time, stars and Santas graced the light poles.

Lester Wolff, Mavis Smith’s brother, who was working at Maxwell Electric in Spokane in 1970, knew of a firm which had decorated Spokane’s streets but no longer had the contract to do so. It had decorations for sale. Wolff told this to Bob Monroe, who was shopping for decorations for Odessa.

For $800, the Odessa Chamber of Commerce bought 20 decorations, which consisted of garlands and lights. Hopp remembers that many local residents were worried about how to pay back the loan for the purchase of the decorations. Deutschesfest was born the following fall, and the money problem was taken care of.

Laurence Libsack says the light bulbs alone in the decorations were worth more than the $800 which was spent. But they proved to be expensive to operate. Originally, each generated about 1,800 watts. Home heaters are equivalent to 1,500 watts. WWP donated the electricity.

“Things were bright,” says Libsack.

Ralph Heimbigner, who has cared for the decorations for years, has modified them since that time, taking out many of the lights to make them more economical.

In the first few years, the decorations were placed on light poles throughout the business district and nearly the entire length of First Avenue. Now there are only 12 placed on First Avenue’s light poles along three blocks between Birch and First streets.

In the beginning, the only way to put up the decorations was with the use of a ladder. This was accomplished by 15 or 20 men working with flashlights in hand.

Libsack and Hopp recall there were some interesting times. Overhead wires were sometimes hit, causing sparks to fly. And once, Libsack fell, ladder and all, to the ground.

The crew became better organized, using proper equipment to make the job easier and safer.

Today, a full crew of 12 or 14 volunteers can do the job in about an hour and a half, Heimbigner says.

“Basically, it is the same crew still putting up the lights as it was in the beginning,” he said.

Over the years, the crew has replaced the plastic garland material. Many spare parts are available to keep the decorations in shape each year.

“I think Odessa has the prettiest decorations of all the small towns in the area,” said Hopp.

The decorations seem to symbolize Odessa’s spirit. When citizens decide to do something, it gets done. And it looks great.


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