Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
A survey conducted by marking students at North Central Technical College shows a difference of opinion on the state of parking in downtown Merrill. Students George Gunderson, Stephen Loos, Ronald Kuehn and Tim Ravn surveyed both merchants and shoppers in order to get a sampling of opinions on both sides of the issue. For the most part the 48 business owners in the east side district believe that their employees do not have adequate space to park. Many park in metered stalls which takes away valuable parking space for their customers. Suggestions from the business owners in the short term were to increase penalties for parking over the meter limit to the long term solution of building a parking ramp behind Livingston’s Department Store in order to provide adequate space for both customers and employees. A poll of shoppers shows that for the most part they are satisfied with shopping downtown and the majority has no issue parking and walking a block or two to get to their favorite store. Mayor Nugent has forwarded on the study to the Police and Fire Commission but noted he is opposed to a parking ramp behind Livingston’s, instead encouraging the group to seek land in the area of Scott Street where the new elderly housing complex is being built.
Big changes will soon be coming to downtown Merrill as M&I Citizens American Bank is preparing to build a new facility. The board of directors has selected Fluor Brothers of Schofield as the general contractor for the project and authorized spending up to $750,000. During phase one the former Gibson Store located to the east of the existing building will be torn down along with the back offices of the bank. The bank will operate from its present facilities as the new building is constructed around it. By January the new bank should be built and operations will move into the new section while the original building is leveled.
In briefs: John and Jackie Willis have purchased Park City Liquor; they are pictured with realtor Ed Chartier handing over the keys of the previous owners Gene and John Cotter. The new elderly housing complex in Gleason is nearing completion. An open house will be held this Sunday at the facility which should see its first overnight guest around June 10. Anthony Skic has been installed as commander of the VFW Post 1638 with Wayne Kraetsch as the senior vice-commander.
The Merrill Board of Education has voted to make all school campuses tobacco free. Board member Diane Mikkelson stated she would like to see the adults in the community lead by example and help create a smoke free environment for the children noting it should not just be the teachers and administrators who are restricted from smoking. An attempt to amend the policy and allow smoking at outdoor venues such as Jay Stadium was defeated narrowly. The new policy will go into effect at the start of the 1988-89 school year. Good Samaritan Health Center has also adopted a no smoking policy except in designated areas. The hospital will not allow smoking in any patient care areas and other designated areas. It is the hope to have the facility completely smoke free by 1990.
A hearing will be held this evening at City Hall for the proposed annexations on the east end of the city. The two separate petitions include the areas around the Pine Ridge oasis and the Wisconsin Dairies building. The second extends down Big Eddy Road and back to the east through the 3’s Company area. Mayor Ken Sparr is supportive of the plan and told the paper he has not heard one negative comment from any business owner or individual.
Fox Point Sportswear has announced they are closing their retail outlet. All remaining merchandise in the store is 50% off for the sell-off which will run through Saturday. The company explained they need to close the store in order to expand their production facilities.
The City of Merrill Common Council has approved a bid from Ken Matson to raze three houses on West Third Street. The homes are located between 102 and 208 W. 3rd between Lions and Stange’s Parks. The site will provide more parking for park users and students as well as people attending functions at the high school. The school and the city will share in the expense of acquiring the properties, razing the buildings and developing the parking lots.
Work has all but stopped on a proposed extension of Alexander Lake Road after a ruling by Langlade County Judge James Jansen. Jansen’s ruling has directed the township to follow resolutions adopted by residents at their annual town meeting in April which directed the township to stop spending town money on the project. Wisconsin Public Service had planned on putting in a boat landing for the public to have access to Lake Alexander, and the town agreed to extend the road into the landing. Town Clerk Janice Fredrickson has certified petitions calling for the recall election of the town chairman, a town supervisor, and the treasurer. A special election will be held on June 30.
The full report on the state of the city’s finances is still at least a week away from being delivered but city Finance Director Bruce Redlin is warning that the belts must be tightened. The city Personnel and Finance Committee has directed department heads to come up with zero based budgeting for 1999. Despite that the committee did recommend approving a third clerk for the city police department as 75% of the pay will come from a federal grant while also agreeing to reclassifying two newly promoted police lieutenants, Ken Neff and Chris Hartwig, despite questions about whether four police lieutenants were needed for a department that only has three shifts. Reclassifying of other city employees has been put on hold until the 1997 audit is presented with Alderman Kurt Helmstadter saying, “It used to be approve, approve, approve (transferring money from the general fund); now it has hit home.” The council did agree to a request from Merrill Area Public Schools for 18 new informational signs around town to help guide people to the new schools as long as MAPS foots the estimated $100 per sign cost and installs them.
Now that the snow is gone it is time for the next season in town, road construction. The city is busy moving ahead with a full slate of projects with the first being extending Thielman Street and adding curb and gutter on South Alexander Street. The biggest project will be the re-paving of North Center Avenue which will begin next Monday. It is anticipated the federal government will drop a large amount of money into state coffers for roadwork and if that is done the city is set to ask for the immediate reconstruction of Second Street between Polk and Mill streets, those projects were set for early 2000, but if the city can take advantage of the federal funds they will only be on the hook for 20% of the costs.