Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Good Old Days: December 12, 2019


December 12, 2019

125 years ago

The Commoner

Dec. 14, 1894

The county commissioners gratified their own puny souls last Friday, just before departing for their homes, by making an order cutting the salaries of all deputies and clerks in the several county offices to the uniform figure of $75 a month. They made no distinction between head deputies and clerks, and only departed from their rule to give the sheriff’s riding deputy $100 a month.

That the salaries paid to deputies and clerks in the courthouse have been too high, considering the scarcity and value of money, the Commoner believes to be true. For some positions in the courthouse $75 is too large a salary. Good accountants frequently receive no more than $75 a month for their services nowadays, and in private business occupations the work is more exacting and of longer business hours than is the case in public office; and even head deputies cannot quibble, at this time, at the size of the proposed allowance.


The exorbitance of the wheat rates now being charge by the railroads from the Palouse country to the seaboard has been hitherto treated at length by the Commoner. The battle is still on. The subject should not be permitted to rest till the desired boon of a just and fair reduction is obtained. If the present rates are to be maintained in the coming year, then wheat-raising will show a falling off in this region, because farmers cannot and will not be bled by the railroads year after year to the extent of all the profits that it is possible to realize on their wheat. Three dollars a ton to the seaboard is what the farmers ask as a reasonable concession from the railroads. The various lines would be making an immense profit even then. The present rate is $4.75 per ton from this grain-producing region to the seaboard. The railroads can well afford to accede to the demand of a reduction of $1.75.

100 years ago

The Colfax Commoner

Dec. 5, 1919

The Colfax high school football team closed a successful season, and they clinched the county championship when they defeated Tekoa on Thanksgiving day by a score of 3 to 0. The Tekoa game was the last game of the season and it was tucked away when Wheeler booted the ball between the posts from middle-field for it was impossible for the boys to cross the Tekoa line as the officials penalized them every time they came within striking distance of the goal line.

The local team’s stone wall defense prevented the Tekoa boys from scoring but the Thanksgiving game was one of the hardest games for the Colfax high to win this season. The game was referred from the side lines and the weak-kneed officials followed the advice of the home rooters. The average football man knows just what kind of a game this would be and it forced the Colfax boys to go at top speed and for the first time this season the game had to be won from the center of the field.

Colfax had the best high school team in its history this year and many believe the team cold have defeated any high school team on the east side.


The question of better fire protection secured the right of way at the commercial club meeting Wednesday noon, and the sentiment of those who were present at the meeting was that Colfax should have a chemical fire engine and this engine should be secured with the least amount of delay.

Robert Gray, chairman of the fire committee, made a report in regard to insurance reduction and better fire protection which was discussed during the meeting. Mr. Gray reported he had taken up the question of securing a reduction in the fire rates, with the different fire insurance companies of the state, asking them just what fire equipment was necessary for the city to maintain in order to secure a reduction in the insurance rate.

In order to secure a reduction of nine percent in the premium rate, the city should have two reservoirs with a total capacity of 1,200,000 gallons. An up-to-date chemical and fire engine and a paid fire department of not less than two men. According to the statement of Mr. Gray, the cost of another reservoir would be about $20,000, the fire engine and truck about $1,300 and the salary of two men would amount to $3,500 a year. The total cost would be something like $24,800. The saving in the insurance premiums to the people of the city would amount to about $3,000 a year.


Before a crowd of visitors that nearly filled the court room. Commissioner Thompson announced that the board had reached an agreement to allow the Endicott road and this statement was greeted by applause from the farmers who were present at the meeting. The road is to be constructed under the Donahoe road law and it is to extend from Endicott to the Inland Empire highway just west of Colfax. The road passes through one of the richest farming districts in the county and it will be of great benefit to the farmers as well as to connect up with the improved highways in the county.

The road has been before the board for the last two years. The right of way follows the old county road and there will be no expense for a right of way. The cost of grading will be less than the cost of any other line. The road will likely be surfaced with gravel and this material can be secured in abundance from the gravel pit at Winona.

Commissioner Thompson stated the order to establish the road would be issued within a short time but asked that the matter be deferred until the test case in connection with the Donahoe law is rendered by the supreme court.

75 years ago

The Colfax Gazette-Commoner

Dec. 8, 1944

Applications for building permits reported by City Clerk Grace Stapleton at the council meeting Monday evening showed a total value in the proposed improvements of $3,750 believed to be more than presented at any one other meeting this year.

Mrs. A. E. Fountain was asking for permission to remodel her house at N908 Clay street and to build a new basement under it at an approximate cost of $1,000. Dallas Cox wanted to remodel the house at E406 Fairview at an estimated cost of $750. Harold T. Mast wished to repair the shop of the Colfax Iron and Machine Works, S500-04 Main street, and install a steam heating unit at approximately $2,000 expense.


Plans for continuing the youth recreation project, instituted a year ago by the Junior chamber of commerce, were considered by a group of 32 men and women at the “Rec” Monday evening, the discussions ending with the election of a board of seven which was given full responsibility in conducting the program during the coming year.

Twenty-five local organizations were represented at the meeting and among those in attendance were several unaffiliated persons who were present because of their personal interest in the project.

The board members elected were Howard Moses, who later was chosen as chairman, the Rev. J. Paul Crowe, Mrs. Florence Hull, Mrs. Harold T. Mast, R. J. Gretencort, Chester Harpole and Lee Lukins.


Rumors of sticker candidates failed to develop in Tuesday’s city general election, when 551 voters, or about 40 percent of those who voted in the primary election, went to the polls and put in office all candidates who had been nominated on Nov. 7.

Names were written in for all officers except that of councilman for two years in the third ward, the votes numbering from 1 to 33. Grace Ellis Stapelton, city clerk under appointment for the past year, is the first woman ever to be elected to a city office in Colfax.

50 years ago

The Colfax Gazette

Dec. 11, 1969

A dry trend was indicated in bookings at the Whitman county jail for 1969. Drinking charges in the jail register dropped by 10 percent last year, the first such decline in five years. Drunk driving charges were 144 for the year, 22 less than the record high of 166 last year. Drunk in public charges totaled 68, nine fewer than last year.

The annual survey, made by Deputy Joan LaVerne, includes bookings to Sept. 30.

With the drinking arrests down for the year, total bookings at the jail also declined during 1969. Total prisoners lodged in the county jail in 1969 were 425, compared to 435 for the previous year.

Total charges filed against the 425 suspects were 471, compared to 525 charges for the previous year. Six cases were dismissed in 1969 compared to three cases dismissed in the previous year.


So far the present winter has been worse than last year’s record breaker, according to figures kept by Lenn Long at the Colfax weather station. As of Tuesday, 3.3 inches of snow had been recorded, compared to .2 inches last December at this time.

Also, Long reports, this December has been colder to date than December of 1968. The first six days of the month were below freezing. The thermometer didn’t get past 32 degrees until Saturday. Tuesday’s 38 degrees was the warmest to date.

Last Thursday had the low reading to date with 23 degrees.

Last December ended with 17.8 inches of snow and a chilling minus 33 degree reading Dec. 30. After a .2 inch snow reading Dec. 5 and Dec. 12, the record shows two inches Dec. 18. Total for the winter was 75.5 inches. December 1968 continued warm until Dec. 19 when the reading dropped to 26 degrees.


An offer to purchase, lease or transfer a former schoolhouse at Dusty was made at the meeting of the Colfax school board Monday night. Mrs. Bill Steiger, representing the Dusty BB club, said her group was interested in acquiring the building, known as the former Jones schoolhouse. Her club has occupied the building since 1946, she said.

The school board recently started investigating property holdings like the Jones schoolhouse. The sites were acquired over the years when country school districts consolidated with the Colfax district.

Colfax school directors first decided to investigate the properties after considering liability insurance coverage earlier in the year.

25 years ago

Whitman County Gazette

Dec. 15, 1994

Rosalia School district went to market with its bond last week one day before the Orange County debacle in California hit the bond market. The result was a savings of thousands of dollars for the school district.

Overall interest rate on bonds will be 6.67 percent over the 20 years.

“That pretty good interest rate for 20-year loan,” Jon Gores, vice president of Seattle Northwest Securities, commented. Gores noted bond prices are always a matter of timing. Northwest was bond agent for the district.

“We’re really happy with the results,” Dr. Jerry Simon, Rosalia superintendent said.


Projects for the Port of Whitman have been pegged at $1.26 million in the budget for next year. Almost all of the spending will be out of Port reserve funds which have been growing for the last few years.

“Next year is going to be a capital intensive year,” Port Manager Jim Weddell commented. “There haven’t been many times that we’ve had that many projects going at once.”

Topping the list of projects will be the expansion of Boyer Park, now budgeted at $450,000. Work on the industrial site at the Whitman County Airport, a second phase of development at the Industrial Park in Pullman and other expenses at Wilma are other capital projects.

The port will undertake the capital projects while carrying on an operation and maintenance budget which is pegged at over $645,341.


A lineup of “contract towns” on the list of library branches could have been a factor in the defeat of the library’s levy proposition in the Nov. 8 election. The towns contract for library services but are not in the library district.

That means their voters, most of them library patrons, never had an opportunity to cast a ballot on the library measure, Pat Zuger, acting library director, explained. The impact of the contract towns was reflected in the elections returns.

Zuger gave a report on the situation to the library board at its meeting last Tuesday.

10 years ago

Whitman County Gazette

Dec. 10, 2009

Sheriff Brett Myers said deputies will have fewer bullets and patrol time if County Commissioner Greg Partch’s budget proposal goes through.

“I am concerned that Commissioner Partch does not seem to recognize the overall responsibility of the sheriff’s office, especially when it comes to providing safety and security to the county,” Myers told he Gazette Tuesday.

Myers and Prosecutor Denis Tracy spoke out against Partch’s proposal during a public hearing on the county’s $52 million 2010 budget Monday night.

“We always say that we’ve cut all the pencils and paperclips we can trying to bring down expenses,” said Tracy. “Now the sheriff’s office is going to have to cut all the bullets they can, literally.”

Partch and two other commissioners have drawn up plans to cut the county’s general fund budget.


Come Jan. 1, Whitman County residents will no longer be able to legally dump their old computer or TV into their curbside trash.

This is because the county landfill that processes almost all garbage in the county ships it to Oregon, which has a state-wide ban on the disposal of electronics starting Jan 1.

“We’ll be fined if it comes in our trucks and they find it,” said Judi Dunn-Gray, county waste reduction coordinator. The electronics no longer allowed are mainly computer monitors, computers, laptops and TVs, called Covered Electronic Devices (CEDS).

Instead Whitman County residents can dispose (for free) of those electronics at two recognized sites; Pullman Disposal and the Goodwill Industries trailer in Pullman.


Tekoa citizens can expect a $4 monthly increase in their water and sewer bill next year, a step down from the $10 added surcharge the council had planned to add to utility bills.

Hoping to ease the financial stress on families during the national recession, the council has put a one-year moratorium on their annual $10 increase for sewer and water.

“We just felt like they were struggling and people were having a hard time paying their bill,” Mayor John Jaeger said.

In 2008, the council enacted a $5 increase on both water and sewer rates, making an extra $10 monthly surcharge on a resident’s bill.


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