City alerts residents

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 2, 1999

WALTHAM - If they are professional football fans, Todd Bruggeman, David Dvorak and Norbert Eggert performed the ultimate sacrifice Monday night.

Tuesday, November 02, 1999

WALTHAM - If they are professional football fans, Todd Bruggeman, David Dvorak and Norbert Eggert performed the ultimate sacrifice Monday night.

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They gave up the Monday Night Football telecast to help their community.

Bruggeman, Dvorak and Eggert went house-to-house in the community they represent on the Waltham City Council, not to seek citizens’ support, but to give away First Alert smoke detectors.

The Mower County chapter of the American Red Cross Smoke Busters Program received a great response Monday night at the Waltham Town Hall.

Jim Grunewald, the chapter’s disaster services chairman, and Dan Wilson assisted both city and Waltham Township officials and staff in distributing the smoke detectors and lithium batteries free of charge to citizens.

"It’s great to see this kind of response to something like this," said Grunewald. "The Red Cross is happy to do this for the people of Mower County."

Wilson, the city of Austin’s fire chief, has been assisting the Mower County chapter in its ambitious Smoke Busters project for over a year.

The Red Cross organization wants to equip every residence in Mower County with a working smoke detector by the end of the year.

While council members Bruggeman, Dvorak and Eggert walked the streets of Waltham Monday night, canvassing the community’s 67 residences for working smoke detectors, city clerk and treasurer Carol Ehmke joined volunteers Sally Mindrup and Jean Eggert at the Waltham Town Hall in helping register citizens.

Another team from the Waltham Township Board did the same for residents, who live outside the Waltham city limits. Irene Paape, township treasurer, and Darlene Stoltz, clerk, signed up township residents who came to the hall Monday night to get their free detectors and batteries.

Paape and Stoltz said there are 150 homes in the township and more than 300 residents. After Monday night’s special project at the town hall, the Waltham Township Board members will canvass the rural residents to distribute detectors and batteries to those who need them.

Tara Johnson and her 2-year-old daughter, Katelin, were among those who picked up the free fire safety equipment Monday night. "Having a working smoke detector in your home is very important," said the young mother. "Especially if you have children."

House fires are an all to frequent occurrence everywhere and Waltham has known its share.

Mike and Michelle Ehmke had a house fire a year ago in the fall of 1998. The Jim Burmeister family had a house fire at their residence along Highway 56 north of Brownsdale. The Jeff Zelinske family suffered a house fire in Hayfield Township, too, according to the citizens waiting in line Monday night for their detectors.

One observer said a tragedy brings out the best in people and preventing tragedies from happening does the same.

Richard Moe, a Waltham Township Board supervisor, said seeing the city and the township work together was gratifying and typical. "The Smoke Busters project is real important to everyone in Mower County," Moe said. "The Township Board will go door-to-door to check to see if the township residents have a working model, when we know how many have picked up one tonight."

"This is just another example of how small communities and townships can work together for the benefit of everyone," Moe said