3-28 letters


It is an honor to serve on the BOE. The responsibility and duty of the members is to represent 100% of the school district. Three percent are employed by the school district, 97% are not. I have and will continue to represent the 97%. Taxpayers are the most loyal of all the citizens in our community. They paid for all our beautiful schools, have made administrators and teachers the highest paid group of employees in the district. Yet, those employees only paid 12.6% toward their health insurance while other workers are paying 25-30-50 and 66 2/3% toward theirs. When administrators and teachers retire they continue to receive health insurance benefits until age 65, at taxpayer expense. This has our district millions and millions in debt for the next 10 years. When these employees retire they no longer bring any value to our students, school district, taxpayers or our community. Teachers work 38 weeks a year, they are off 14 weeks, work 7 1/2 hours per day. Top teachers make over $50 per hour, over $70,000 per year and with benefits it costs the taxpayer $104,000 per year for those employees. Did I mention they work 38 weeks per year?

Divide $104,000 by the number of hours (1,425) they work and their hourly pay equals $72.98/hour. Did I mention they only pay 12.6% to their health insurance?

The Merrill school district is in a financial crisis. Long range plan shows that if substantial changes aren’t made the district in 3-5 years will be looking at bankruptcy. A presentation on insurance costs show the taxpayer will be paying school district employees as much for insurance as salary in 6-7 years.

These outrageous benefits must be realigned to the real world. If it is true, as I hear from administrators and teachers that students are our top priority then it is time they put their money where their mouth is and work toward a healthy balanced budget. Then and only then can we give all our students what they need and deserve – a good learning experience to prepare them for life after graduation.

Some think an operational referendum to have the taxpayer pay to get our district out of the present financial crisis is a great idea. I am 100% against such a referendum as long as we continue to pay for all the outrageous benefits.

What I really appreciate is your support with your vote on April 3. BOE must make some huge changes. Please support the BOE. Let them know by articles in the paper and phone calls to each board member letting them know what you expect from each member. We must do what is best and the right thing for our students, school district, taxpayer and community.

Thank you,

Gene Bondioli



I would like to take this opportunity to explain where I stand on a few issues as a school board member, and clear up a couple of misguided assumptions. First, the activities fee that has been eliminated. Brad Geiss and I, as board members, pushed to get that topic on our agenda, ultimately resulting in the fee being eliminated. Last week, Mr. Collins misleadingly took credit for that decision (with Mr. Bondioli), even though neither was on the board at the time. However, I am glad to see Mr. Collins and Mr. Bondioli agreed with our decision!

Other contentious decisions while I’ve been on the board include the Human Growth and Development curriculum. I believe what we now teach our children is factual, timely, and relevant to life for our students – and we should strive as parents, teachers and community to give children as much factual information as possible. Ultimately, if parents aren’t comfortable, they can choose to have their child abstain from the class. Mr. Collins ultimately opposed our decision and believes the district should teach nothing in regards to sex-ed, AND parents should have no choice.

I also voted in favor of keeping the book, Montana 1948, in our schools, in spite of the outlandish comments by a citizen group charging the district with teaching pornography, promoting rape, etc. Again, Mr. Collins was not in favor of giving parents a choice to abstain.

Finally, I voted in favor of moving Head start / Early Childhood to the Pine River Elementary School and moving those children into town.

I am on the long range facility committee, which has a long term plan for the district and is commissioning a population study by UW Madison to further understand our district’s future. We as a district also hired a consultant to do an independent evaluation of our facilities, per board approval. However, Mr. Collins states we don’t have a plan… when we do. He might not like it, or agree with it, but please don’t be misled.

On the board, I will always put my personal beliefs aside and look at what is best for all of our children. I hope you expect that of everyone on the board. Contrary to Mr. Collins and some others’ belief – a school board is not supposed to run the district on a daily basis. The school board hires the superintendent to do that, and the board also oversees and creates policy for the district.

I am a middle class blue collar worker who lives, works, plays ball and shops in Merrill. My 3 children go to a public elementary school in Merrill. I help coach kids in various activities. I donate over 100 hours a year at the High School, where I have no children yet attending. I have been and always will be a Merrill Blue Jay and I thank you in advance for your vote on April 3rd.


Brad Kanitz



My name is Hans Breitenmoser Jr. and I am running for the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors from District 11. My family and I own and operate a dairy and crop farm in the town of Scott. My wife Katie and I have four small children with number five expected in May. I currently serve on the Farm Service Agency County Committee as Vice Chairman, the Lincoln County Ag and Natural Resources Advisory Committee and as a delegate for Genex Cooperative. Past appointments include the Merrill Area Public Schools Ag Curriculum Advisory Board and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Agriculture Waste Emissions Advisory Group. I grew up and have always lived in Lincoln County. My family and business have benefited from what this area has to offer and I have always felt that it is important to contribute whenever possible and practical. My goals for the Board are merely to help facilitate thoughtful discussion about all the important issues facing our County and to encourage all involved to keep an open mind. I think the County Board is a place where I could make a contribution given my experience managing the resources of a modern dairy farm. If you live in District 11, I would appreciate your vote of confidence on April third. Thanks very much

Hans Breitenmoser Jr.


Fellow Merrill Area Residents,

My name is John Shull and I am a candidate for the Merrill Area Public Schools (MAPS) Board of Education. I am asking for your vote on Tuesday, April 3, for this very important position.

My primary goal as a board member is to return commonsense and respectability to our school board. In a March 20, 2012, editorial, the Wausau Daily Herald referred to our school board as “dysfunctional, with meetings that tend to go badly off track and bickering among members.”

The primary way to end dysfunction and bickering among board members is by showing a willingness to listen to each other and keeping an open mind. As a practicing attorney I have tried dozens of jury trials and found it easier to convince a jury of my client’s position by submitting positive evidence in support of my case, rather than belittling the opponent. If elected to the board of education, it will be my goal before reaching any decision to keep an open mind as well as to listen and consider the opinions of other board members and all others that might be affected by board decisions.

The MAPS Board of Education will face numerous challenges during the next several years. Obviously, the most important challenge will be how the Board of Education handles decreasing revenue as a result of declining enrollment. Over the next 5 years, MAPS enrollment will decrease by 40 to 50 students each and every year. The result of the decreased enrollment will be the loss of $400,000 in state aid each year for the next 5 years. It is critical that our school district develop a long term plan addressing what budget cuts need to be made as a result of decreased state aid. Furthermore, any long term budget plan must be made public so the Merrill community is aware months, even years ahead of any dramatic budget cuts.

No one person or group should bear the brunt of budget reductions. We got into these dire economic times together and we must work together to dig our way out. All options must be on the table to address our district’s budget problems including teacher and staff reductions, building closures, as well as possible tax referendums.

Over the last several years, MAPS has balanced the budget by reducing administrative positions, reducing teacher and staff positions through attrition, providing little to no wage increases to teachers and staff, and requiring teachers and staff to contribute significantly more toward the costs of their benefits. However, there will come a time in the not too distant future when it will be difficult for our district to retain quality teachers due to the ongoing budget problems. In the future, it will become more likely that teachers and staff leave our district for other local districts that pay better or provide better benefits because they do not face the same ongoing budget issues we face. The point is: we can only cut so far before the cutting begins to affect the quality of our kids’ education.

Candidates for office typically make campaign promises but fail to deliver. Therefore, I cannot and will not make any promises as to how I would vote on any particular issue. However, I can promise that I will consider each issue with an open mind, listen to other board members and members of the public, and treat others with respect. Thank you and I hope you will support me on April 3.

John Shull

School Board


Pine River-Merrill

To the Editor,

My name is Dean Haas and I am a candidate for 1st Ward Alderman.

My wife and I dairy farmed in Schley township for 24 years. Six years ago we retired and purchased a home on East 12th Street.

Prior to that I worked as an electrician in Browntown, WI. I also was a member of the volunteer fire department and on the first response team. I taught hunter safety in the area also and in Gleason.

I am currently on the Merrill Zoning Appeals Board, the Lincoln County Sports Club Board of Directors, and a hunter safety instructor.

The census report shows family income adjusted for inflation, has fallen in the last 10 years. That means Merrill residents, many of whom are retired, don’t have the income to support increased taxes. I will work to give the city good services at a price that is affordable.

The cost of running the city is unlikely to go down. I believe that Federal and State shared revenue will decrease in their efforts to reduce deficit spending. The best way to offset this is to bring business and industry into Merrill. The increase in tax base would help keep taxes in check. That should help Merrill grow.

I realize with competition from other cities with the same needs, it won’t be easy.

I would appreciate your vote.


Dean Haas


Thank you from Relay for Life of Merrill:

The Relay for Life of Merrill committee expresses their heart-felt gratitude to Rookies Bar & Grill for their generous contribution to the Relay for Life Kick-off Party. They donated free use of their very nice hall and the delicious buffet they prepared for our guests was also at no charge.

We don’t have the words to convey how much your warm hearted and generous donation meant to us.

Because of people like you we can have another season of successful fund raising.

Thank you,

Ginny Schaper

Relay for Life

of Merrill


Mr. Chuck Bolder submitted a letter endorsing Rick Santorum for the GOP presidential candidacy because he thinks that Mr. Santorum is for “everyday folks.” I would have to strongly disagree with that because Mr. Santorum has said that if he were elected, he would cut the corporate tax rate by 10% but he did not mention anything about cutting the appropriate spending programs that are funded by this revenue. This leads me to believe that the “everyday folks” would end up putting the bill to pay for the corporate tax cut. How is that using common sense?

President Obama is trying to undo the country’s financial crisis brought on by 8 years of President Bush and the Republicans, so don’t expect everything to get fixed in the blink of an eye.

So, if Mr. Santorum is supposed to be the best offering that the Republicans have for “everyday folks” you had better look elsewhere.

Patrick Hommerding


Dear Editor,

A beer can laying in a ditch can last 200-500 years, a plastic drink container the same. Styrofoam never disintegrates and glass takes a million years, give or take. Whether it’s blown there or thrown there, it’s not going away in our lifetime… unless someone picks it up. Each year 7,000 items per mile across U.S. highways gets tossed. It is literally a crime. In Washington State the penalty is $1,000 for throwing a cigarette butt (they are notorious for starting fires.).

Wisconsin has a reputation for its beauty. Let’s all start taking more pride in protecting its landscape. As busy as we are, there is still time to grab a bag and do a litter walk or organize a club for a worthwhile cause. Becoming proactive makes our community more inviting to live in and visit.

Rita Wiechman



When your cat climbs up into your lap and purrs – or when your dog licks your face and wags his tail, you know they’re happy. They thank you like that every day for the loving home you’ve given them. But there are lots of animals that don’t have that. They’re waiting in cages for that loving home they may have had before they were put in those cages. BUT, they ARE loved and cared for while they’re in those cages – at the Lincoln County Humane Society. Every year, hundreds of animals are found as strays or given up because their owners just couldn’t care for them anymore. We want to thank a few special people that helped make a recent fundraiser for the Humane Society a huge success – success that will help to continue to love and care for these animals. To Debbie Alvin and Marlene Graap – the two powerhouses behind the scenes. What an amazing job you did pulling the whole fundraiser together. Thank you for all the hard work and dedication!! To Brenda Zettler for making the “fine cuisine” and to Rick Stine of Taylor & Stine Funeral home for the donation of the tent. Thank you!! To our “Miller Guy” for chipping in on the free beer. Thank you. And lastly, to EVERYONE that bought tickets and attended the fundraiser – we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for your generosity. If I forgot anyone, it’s because I’m old – and that happens.

Thank you!!

Linda & Greg Berlin

Berlin’s Trophy Bar



Lately Wisconsin employers have been experiencing a shortage of educated skilled workers to run the increasingly complicated and technical equipment in their workplace. At the same time, our governor cut millions of dollars from our schools; the very institutions which prepare our workforce. No wonder employers are not flocking to Wisconsin to open new businesses.

Bill Lussenhop



St. John Lutheran Church and School hosted its 1st annual auction on Feb. 18 at Les & Jim’s. The evening was a huge success raising over $19,000.

We would like to thank everyone who helped to make the auction so successful. Thank you to the businesses in Merrill and surrounding communities who were so generous with their donations and advertisements; thank you for the overwhelming support of St. John Church and School members through donations, helping to spread the word and attending the auction; thank you to the community as whole for coming out and spending the evening with us. We look forward to next year!

Meredith Heldt

Auction Committee Member

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top