You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
Angela Major 

An auctioneer with Kraft Auction Service points as auction attendees buy license plates and other items Wednesday, October 17, 2018, on South River Road in Janesville.

top story
Hundreds throng to Janesville auction for bits of history


Dozens of pickup trucks pulling flatbed trailers lined the side streets near 1621 S. River Road on Wednesday.

They had come from across the Midwest and beyond to bid on the collections from two lifetimes.

It was a rare opportunity for collectors and restorers of antique cars and trucks, but automobiles were just a part of the horde that had been kept in sheds on the property, in some cases for decades.

The collection included 105 “hit-and-miss engines” from the days when electricity arrived in these parts. The engines powered everything from milk separators to washing machines.

“I’m surprised at all they have here. I’m amazed,” said Ann Koch of Evansville, who came with friends looking for bargains.

A wooden washing machine. Two copper vats once used for making cheese. Farm implements. Two old buggies once pulled by horses.

More than 1,000 had registered to bid by mid-afternoon.

Three auctioneers from Kraft Auction Service worked nonstop, with the goal of selling everything by the end of the day. A 1932 Ford pickup went for $3,500. An old truck chassis with a steering wheel, stick shift, wheels and little else went for $100.

“It’s like stepping back in time,” said Tim Webber of Waterford.

Webber was waiting, like a lot of others, for his special item to be auctioned. He’d been there for hours, walking around and drinking in the history.

Webber waited for a 60-hp Ford engine, made in the late 1930s.

“People make custom motorcycles out of them,” Webber said with a gleam in his eye.

Steve Ihus was impressed with all the items on display, even though he had grown up next door and still lives two doors down River Road.

“A lot of this stuff was in mint condition 30 to 40 years ago,” Ihus said.

Over 1,000 bidders attend Janesville auction

Drill presses. Lathes. An old telephone switchboard. Model A’s. Model T’s. A Jeffrey Motors car, built in Kenosha—rotted and rusty with parts missing, like many but not all of the vehicles.

Gus and Ester Korthals had lived there, and Gus was the first collector, Ihus said.

Gus worked at Samson Tractor, the precursor of the General Motors plant. One of the items up for auction was a Samson truck, the last one off the Janesville line, Ihus said.

Ihus remembered Gus as a “great guy” and Ester as a great cook.

Gus and Ester’s son, Leigh, inherited the property and a love of collecting, storing his treasures on the 2.73-acre property, Ihus said.

“A lot of people complained. I never did,” Ihus said.

Leigh, who died last year, worked at General Motors for 25 years, said Tom Pearson, the executor of the estate.

Leigh never married and didn’t know any living relatives, Pearson said, but 46 second cousins were located, including some in the Clinton area and others scattered “from New York to Hawaii.”

The cousins will share in the proceeds from liquidating the estate, Pearson said.

Pearson said he had worked since January, discovering everything stuffed into seven outbuildings. Some cars were invisible, stored under eight feet of other stuff, he said.

A horse-drawn wagon used to sell roasted peanuts. Iron fences and gates. A set of books, the “Cyclopedia of Automobile Engineering,” published in 1915.

On Wednesday, people dug through muck and unidentifiable objects in the back of an old truck when a man pulled out a shiny chrome thing with red plastic, like a piece of an alien spaceship—a Buick taillight.Among the highest bids of the day were for the Samson truck, $14,500, and a 1932 Ford Cabriolet, $17,000, Pearson said.

Pearson declined to estimate the amount of money changing hands Wednesday.

“There’s a lot of guesses,” he said with a smile. “We’ll know at the end of the day.”

A Samson tractor, “made right here in Janesville,” according to the auctioneer, was sold after a small bidding war between a man from Minnesota and a woman who apparently was receiving bidding orders over her phone.

The man took it for $2,000.

His grandfather had a tractor just like it, said the man, who declined to give his name.

An old wagon that looked a lot like those that settlers drove across the prairies. Several Sampson Tractor radiators and stacks of old car fenders strewn on the ground.

Pearson described the younger Korthals as a “kind of eccentric” man who had an eye for high-quality collectibles and didn’t allow many people in his house.

Leigh Korthals also had a house in Beloit, where another trove was stored.

That smaller but higher-quality group of items—including antique firearms and wooden slot machines—will be auctioned in Valparaiso, Indiana, in January, Pearson said.

A 1932 delivery van with its floor rotted out. Ornate wood stoves. Trucks that looked like the ones the Okies used to move their possessions and families to California during the 1930s Dust Bowl. …

top story
Milton Joint Fire Commission foresees future budget constraints


Members of the Milton Joint Fire Commission on Wednesday agreed that the intergovernmental agreement with the city of Janesville has worked for both cities’ fire departments.

But at least one member expressed concerns about leadership and future costs.

Jon Jennings, a Milton town supervisor and commission member, requested that the commission discuss the agreement Wednesday night as it nears two years since the Milton and Janesville fire departments began sharing services.

The commission also is preparing for a leadership transition with the January retirement of Fire Chief Randy Banker.

The two fire departments began sharing services in early 2016 and started sharing administration in late 2017.

Banker said the intergovernmental agreement has allowed both departments to offer higher-quality services without burdening taxpayers.

Commission member Lynda Clarke, who also serves on the Milton City Council, expressed concern about whether the commission will have input on hiring a new chief.

Janesville’s Police and Fire Commission, which consists of people appointed by Janesville City Manager Mark Freitag, will hire the new chief, Banker said.

However, he said he asked that the Police and Fire Commission allow the Milton Joint Fire Commission to offer input at some point in the hiring process.

Milton Mayor Anissa Welch said she wants to see administrators and officials from the city of Milton, town of Milton and city of Janesville discuss the status of shared services and goals for the departments.

Jennings said he’d like the joint fire commission to establish firmer goals for its future and the future of Milton’s fire department—a common refrain voiced by other commission members and Banker in recent meetings.

Banker said the commission should answer three questions: Where is the department at now? Where is it going? How will it get there?

The commission also began preliminary discussion on the possibility of capital and operational referendums.

Commission Chairman Bryan Meyer, who also serves on the Milton Town Board, said the fire department’s operational costs are increasing quickly, and he fears the department will not be sustainable without changes.

Banker said a referendum likely would not be feasible until 2021.

Meyer responded that he’d like to begin talking about it now so the commission is ready in the future.

The commission recently started planning for a new fire station, which likely would be funded through a capital referendum.

Dan Nelson, Milton’s finance director, said the commission needs to decide staffing for a future station and how it would be paid for before making other decisions about the station.

Randy Banker

Obituaries and death notices for Oct. 18, 2018

Terry Edward Benish

Thomas J. Burke

Robert Lavern Dibble

Anna Carolyn Dow

Virginia C. Essen

Joseph B. Meehan

LaNolla Narbone

Roger Raymond Reay

Walker, Evers tussle over tax increases


Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tony Evers are arguing over tax increases.

Walker’s campaign asserted Wednesday that if elected Evers would raise taxes by billions of dollars. Evers’ campaign spokesman Sam Lau responded by saying, “Scott Walker is just making stuff up at this point.”

Walker has keyed in on taxes as a central issue with the election less than three weeks away and polls showing the race is a tossup. While Evers has been vague about some of his plans for raising taxes, Walker has also not outlined in detail how he would pay for hundreds of millions of dollars in additional spending and tax cuts he’s proposed.

Evers has made two concrete tax-related proposals. He wants to repeal the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit program created by Walker and supported by the state’s business community to pay for a $340 million, 10 percent income tax cut for the middle class. Evers launched a new ad touting the tax cut Wednesday.

Evers has also said that “everything’s on the table “ when it comes to paying for roads, including a gas tax increase.

Walker has zeroed in on that comment, saying because Evers wouldn’t initially rule out a $1 per-gallon increase that means he’s open to it. Evers has subsequently said a $1 per-gallon increase would be “ridiculous.” Such a tax increase would raise $6.7 billion—enough to create and operate a second state Department of Transportation, which currently runs on a budget that size that includes federal funding and bond money.

Wisconsin’s gas tax is 32.9 cents per gallon, ranking it 19th in the country, according to the Tax Foundation. An increase of the size Walker cited would make Wisconsin’s gas tax more than double the highest such tax in the U.S.—Pennsylvania’s at 58.7-cents per gallon.

Yet Walker has keyed in on that number, including in a new campaign ad Wednesday featuring a mom saying she couldn’t afford Evers as governor because “he’s going to raise the gas tax by up to a dollar per gallon.”

Walker campaign spokesman Brian Reisinger, in a conference call with reporters, said if the $1 per-gallon increase isn’t realistic, then Evers should give a range of what he would consider.

While Evers has not stated a range, Walker hasn’t said specifically how he would pay for his proposals to increase state funding for schools to two-thirds of expenses or bolster local road funding by about $110 million annually.

Walker also wants to spend $30 million more on worker training; approve a tax break for Kimberly-Clark Corp. that could cost tens of millions of dollars; give new college graduates tax credits of $1,000 a year for five years if they stay in Wisconsin; expand a property tax credit for senior citizens; and provide a tax break for child care costs.

The two-thirds education funding increase would be roughly $130 million a year, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, but Walker’s campaign has refused to put a dollar amount to it or say exactly where the money would come from.

“Good fiscal management and a strong economy puts us in position to do this kind of thing,” Reisinger said. He stressed that Walker has shown over eight years as governor that he follows through on promises, while Evers has “no proven track record of getting things done.”

Evers, the state superintendent since 2009, last month submitted a budget proposal that would increase funding for schools by 10 percent and include two-thirds funding. But his proposal leaves it up to the governor and Legislature to figure out how to pay the $1.4 billion increase in spending.

Scott Walker

Tony Evers