Questions, Anyone?

Who gets the money?

Q. A reader asks “What school districts will receive money if the millage passes on Feb. 26?” He says he has an absentee ballot and the wording for the millage proposal doesn’t mention specific school districts.

A. Revenue from the millage will be distributed equally on a per-pupil basis to Alcona Community Schools, Alpena Public Schools, Atlanta Community Schools, and Hillman Community Schools, according to Brian Wilmot, superintendent of the Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational School District. For more information go to or contact the AMA ESD superintendent’s office at 354-3101.

Community Chorus

Q. Reader Joyce Gohlke states that at a recent community chorus concert, Director Jim Hart was recognized for 26 years of directing the chorus. But she remembers singing in a choral society more than 26 years ago. She asks, “What’s the history?”

A. Jim Hart, the present and long-time director of the community chorus, and Mary Louise Hart, accompanist for an even longer time, recall the following history. In l955, Gordon Johnson (Alpena High School and Alpena Community College music instructor) organized the Alpena Choral Society. Four music teachers, during their tenure at AHS and ACC, continued the group. Directors, in chronological order, were Bill (Willard) Fast, John Dovaras, Larry Torkelson, and Robert Hein. Pat Bunce and Carol Witherbee also directed for brief periods.

It was in l987 that Sonya Titus was responsible for the return of a choral group to the Alpena area; she secured the sponsorship of Alpena Community College, Alpena Public Schools and Thunder Bay Arts Council. At that time, Jim Hart became the director and reinstated the December concert, performing Handel’s “Messiah” with the group known as Alpena Community Chorus. After a few years, it was chorus members who asked to continue rehearsals during the winter and perform a second concert in the spring. Currently the group presents a Christmas concert, which includes selections from the “Messiah”, and a spring concert. The group, now sponsored by the Thunder Bay Arts Council, is known as the Thunder Bay Arts Council Chorus.

Alpena: 1920-1940

Q. What was Alpena like in the decades between 1920 and 1940?

A. Historian Robert Haltiner wrote: “The Roaring Twenties, Prohibition, The Flapper Era – all ran their course relatively smoothly in Alpena and its surroundings … though we did have our share of “blind pigs,” “rum-runners” and illegal gambling machines that kept the local law enforcement agencies on their toes.

“The cement industry, which saved the city from ‘ghost-town’ status when the lumber ran out,

developed into the area’s largest industry … The endless supply of limestone encouraged other industries to establish factories here and existing industries to expand. The Besser Company, a cement-related industry, revolutionized the world’s building industry when they introduced their Automatic Plain Pallet Stripper Tamper in 1924, making possible the production of all sizes and styles of concrete block and brick on one pallet. The company prospered soon becoming the largest of its kind in the world as Huron Portland had become the largest cement company in the world.”

Please send questions and comments to or to “Questions, Anyone?” The Alpena News, 130 Park Place, Alpena, Michigan 49707.