History of Jail & Bail
Early history told by Bob Gibbs via radio interview, who was a prisoner at the 2nd JAIL & BAIL event in 1958, and was the past March of Dimes Director for 29 years; retired in 1992, deceased 2006:
1957 marked the first Jail and Bail , as a result of a “brainstorming” session spearheaded by Lee Van Dam, disc jockey at WTTH Radio, and Sheriff William Pettengill
- First presiding Sheriff was William Pettengill (chair unknown…but the 2nd chair in 1958 was Tim Sheldon).
- 7 prisoners raised $200.00 at the first event, held at the St Clair county Jail in an actual “jail cell”.
- WTTH Radio (now WPHM) and WSMA Radio (Dick Sommerville, owner as of 1967) began the broadcast. WPHM is still broadcasting the event of this date, but WSMA ended their broadcasting in 1992.
- Volunteer prisoners ate the same food served on trays that actual prisoners were served, and wore the same full length, black and white striped uniforms that the actual prisoners wore (and they also went out in the community on “jail breaks” with those uniforms on!).
In 1974, the committee had decided to discontinue the Jail & Bail event, but Tim Sheldon wanted to keep it going, so he added a few new components to make the event more exciting, and his wife, Belle, was in charge of coordinating the event day meals for prisoners and workers. The March of Dimes Women’s Auxiliary (President Bernie Emerick) also began soliciting food donations and serving it on event day.
1993 marked the 1st year the event was a live simulcast with WPHM Radio and Cable TV (first with Adelphia, then Harron, then Comcast). Don McIntyre, detective with St. Clair County, said John Ogren of Adelphia (Comcast) suggested we should put the JAIL & BAIL on tv, so Don called Division Executive Director Jerry Keller in November 1992 and asked him if he would like to do that…Jerry agreed, and it has been broadcast on TV ever since
1993 also marked the first year the event raised over $100,000.
1999 marked the first year our event total exceeded $200,000.
2000 marked the last year the event was held in the SCC Jail “Garage”. At that time, the county needed to use the jail garage year ‘round, so we had to look for somewhere else to have it. Dennis Sharrow and William Worden offered the use of the Masonic Temple in Port Huron.
2001 marked the first year the event was held at the Masonic Temple, 927 – 6th St., Port Huron , and has been held their ever since. The new jail, on Michigan Ave., might be a possibility in the future if we outgrow the Masonic Temple.
2012 marked the 50th and final year that Richard “Dick” Phillips served as the Jail and Bail event Co-Chair.
2013 marks the 75th Anniversary of the March of Dimes Foundation. Tom Bligh became one of our Jail and Bail event Co-Chairs.