Gateway signage is a key element in community identity. Since its beginning, village signs were erected to announce the village’s name to travelers. They were placed on a prominent road entrance and designed to depict a characteristic feature of the village’s history, heritage, or culture. The highly decorative sign was typically made from wrought or cast iron, carved from wood, or painted and was important in giving the village a sense of identity.
The Village of Nichols has recently placed a sign showing its name and importance that Nichols is still here. The project of erecting the sign was long and arduous, but the final product is a sign that represents the continuity of the village while fostering a community spirit for travelers and the people of the village of Nichols.
The Nichols Advancement Association (NAA) spear-headed the project. After being approached by community members, the club began to process what they wanted the sign to convey about the community to passing travelers. Because the sign would represent its people, it was decided to have the residents come up with a slogan they saw fit to depict the community. A contest was held and Mr. Ron Hartlaben was the winner with his slogan, “Visit Nichols…A Great Place For A Little Change.” Although the motto of the Village of Nichols reads, “Small in numbers, Large in spirit,” Mr. Hartlaben used some word play that he felt demonstrated how much the village wants people to know that Nichols is a great place to visit.
The NAA then focused on the design of the sign itself. As always, all designs, construction, and installation, must conform to ordinances and codes. Being a wetland area, research had to be done with the Army Corps of Engineers and the DNR to place the sign within the legal limits and upon some solid ground.
The installation of the sign was daunting. It took a variety of people to trudge through the dirt, muck, and water to erect the sign. Scott Marcks Trucking installed the poles that started the ground work. His workers were determined to give the sign a great beginning. Mr. Paul Wenzel of ASB Construction consulted many hours with the NAA as to the actual final look of the sign before placing the backdrop for it. Mr. Terry Scheller donated the stone that was placed by Sigl Masonry and embraces the sign beautifully. Mark’s Electric Service installed the lighting, giving the sign a welcoming feature for both day and night.
The NAA extends a special Thank You to the many people who have donated money and time in completion of the sign. There is no doubt the sign is beautiful and beckons one to visit Nichols. The quaintness of the village is evident as the traveler passes through, but it is the warm, friendly, proud people that you meet that show the determination and strength they possess in keeping the tiny community thriving a key feature in Nichols’ identity.