Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
The voters took to the polls yesterday and approved an advisory referendum for the annexation of land from the Town of Pine River. The Merrill City Council voted 5-3 to allow the annexation in August but the vote total fell short of the 2/3 needed to pass the resolution. A non-binding referendum was then presented to voters who voted 1,539-779 to annex the land. Merrill Mayor Patrick Nugent advised a annexation ordinance will be readied in case one of the three alderman who voted against the proposal in August asks to reconsider the measure. Alderman Ron Schroeder, Roger English and Anita Gebert all dissented in the original vote, Alderman Jean English abstained as her husband is involved with legal proceedings regarding the annexation. Part of the property that is proposed to be annexed includes nine acres of land which local realtor Pat Buckett and two others wish to develop as a shopping center site.
Voters in the primary election had few other choices on the ballot on the local level. Incumbent Clerk of Court Janet Byer held back a challenge from Joe Chilsen on the Republican ticket by a margin of nearly 2-1. There will be two contested elections come November as incumbent Sheriff Ron Krueger faces another challenge from Democrat Harry Owens and Treasurer Florian Koehler will seek another term against John English who is running as a Democrat. On the state wide level UW Stevens Point Chancellor Lee Sherman Dreyfus received the nod on the Republican ticket to take on Acting Governor Martin Schreiber who held off David Carley as he seeks his first official term in the Governors office.
The good news is he got his money back. Merrill Police proved this past weekend that a drunk and his money can be reunited. Shortly after 6:30 Saturday morning police responded to a home on East Street where a man wearing only his underwear was found sleeping on the porch of the home. Officers arrested the man and charged him with disorderly conduct. When the search for the man’s pants was conducted officers found he had left a nearby home after too much cheer and forgot his pants in the process. When the pants were found police noted they contained $139 in cash (that’s over $500 today) and returned the pants to the man as he finished his nap in the confines of Sheriff Krueger’s hotel. He will probably need the money; he is due in court on the misdemeanor charge on Sept. 18.
The Bowery is now open. Formerly Bud & Dee’s; the establishment on County Rd. K north of Merrill is officially under the new management of Dennis and Helen Mann. Hours are weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and weekends 9 a.m. until closed. The bar is closed Tuesdays. At the Lincoln House the downstairs restaurant and bar is now known as Kings & Queens.
Jane Ann Savaske held off three other challengers to capture the Republican party nomination for the soon to be vacant county treasurer. Longtime Treasurer Florian Koehler is retiring this January and Savaske, Bob Schneider, Marge Johnson and Sue Johanning all sought the seat on the same ticket. Savaske held on to win the primary with 682 votes followed closely by Schneider. She will now take on the lone Democratic challenger Jan Lemmer. In state wide races Republican Susan Engeleiter will face Democrat Herb Kohl in the November election for the United Stated Senate seat being vacated by William Proxmire. In the 12th district Senate seat Joe Handrick will take on incumbent and Democrat Lloyd Kincaid. Former Marine and hostage Kevin Hermening at the Iranian Embassy will challenge Representative Dave Obey in November.
Beatrice Lebal has been named the new director of the T. B. Scott Library in Merrill. Lebal comes to Merrill from D.C. Everest High School where she has served as an Instructional Materials Specialist since 1971. She has a master’s degree in library science from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. Her master’s thesis appropriately enough was about the Merrill Library. During her tenure at Everest Lebal has received awards and grants including the John Cotton Dana Award; something Library President George Diagostine compared to the Pulitzer Price for libraries. She replaces N. Curtis LeMay who resigned to take a similar position at the University of Wisconsin, Marathon Center.
In briefs: The Wisconsin Lottery is official as of noon today. Governor Tommy Thompson is expected to scratch the first ticket at a ceremony in Madison. The lottery will have one scratch game and a pull tab game as well. The Great Speakers Forum will present Captain Joseph Coffee this next week. Captain Coffee was shot down over Vietnam and spent seven years in the Hanoi “Hilton.” His message (which was very good) is “Beyond Survival.” Pastor William Clyma will be installed as Associate Pastor at St. Stephen’s Church in Merrill this Sunday. The public is invited to the ceremony which will be attended by the Rev. David Moyer of Eau Claire. Pastor Clyma began his work at the local church in June, he comes to Merrill from Onaga, Kansas; he was born and raised in Connecticut. (Still serving in Sparta, WI) The Merrill semi-pro football team known as the Merrill City Football Team and later the Fromm Foxes and then the Merrill Foxes held a reunion this past Saturday at Club 64 in Merrill. The club was formed back in 1930 and lasted in one form or another until 1954. One of the highlights of the club was their contest with the Green Bay Packers in 1935. Chuck Summers was the master of ceremonies, and Warren Weckwerth presented a history of the team using newspaper clippings.
Merrill will be flowing with syrup this Saturday as the community celebrates Maple Fest. The event will be centered at the MARC Center where over 30 booths will showcase maple crafts and delights. There will also be tours of area maple syrup productions and hay rides through Council Grounds. Several entertainers will be found at the MARC including six musical groups and Travis Wolf, the Guinness World Record stilt walker. Ads throughout the paper showcase Merrill merchants who are celebrating the homage to the state’s 50,000 maple trees with sales throughout the weekend.
The City of Merrill has put up their share of the expected $9,000+ required for an independent investigation of the Ward Paper Mill dam. The city is looking to partner with Lincoln County, the Town of Merrill and the lake association to have the study done. Ward Paper’s parent company International Paper has offered to transfer the dam to a government body for free along with $200,000 in cash for dam upgrades. The two problems with the offers is the new dam owner also has to accept ownership of the sludge landfill the paper company owns north of Merrill and hope for a matching grant from the DNR to cover the estimated $400,000 in dam repairs. Merrill Mayor Mike Caylor and lake association vice-president Kevin Koss are proceeding with caution both believing the amount of cash being offered is nowhere near what will be needed to repair the dam and perform environmental cleanup with Koss calling the DNR report on the matter “hastily prepared.” Caylor and Pat Taylor from the lake association agree the DNR only covers what is needed to bring the dam up to code, not what it will cost for the long term stabilization of the structure. If the county board approves their share of the study, Ayre & Associates will have 45 days to complete their report.
Slowly but surely what was once the educational center of the downtown area is crumbling to the wrecking ball. Merrill Area Public Schools is paying for the demolition of the former Lincoln School building which started last week. The demolition of the structure was part of the sales agreement with Lincoln County. The county proposed to build a justice center on the site to allow for jail expansion. But, since the sale of the property was approved the county is looking at other parcels of land for their estimated $18 million dollar project. (Instead we have Walgreens now)
Could the city do away with its parking meters? That is the initial signal coming from a recent meeting between city officials and the downtown merchants. Area business leaders spoke of their desire to either eliminate the meters or increasing the time allowed on them to park. The city has some 400 meters throughout the city’s business district and upgrades in the near future may run an estimated $6,000. Downtown store owner Carl Short pointed out to the group that Merrill is the only city within a radius of 50 miles that does not have free parking downtown. Research on the topic will continue on the city’s end who will then report back to the retailers.