Fotos from the past

Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr

At a meeting of the Merrill Provisional League of Women Voters this past week, City Engineer Charles Pierotti spoke of the present state of the city and made some predictions of its future growth. Pierotti predicted that the largest growth in the future will be near the Highway 51 bypass. He felt there would be a mix of both residential, commercial and industrial building near the freeway including the area north of the city where Business Hwy 51 joins Hwy. 51. Traffic studies have shown that the mid-city of Merrill is the highest traffic area of the city and as a result Pierotti predicts that will be a strong area of growth into the future. Because land is precious in the city, Pierotti foresees a division between potential home builders and developers as the size of building lots continue to shrink as available land space becomes more scarce. Thanks to the years of advance notice, Pierotti thinks the downtown will deal favorably with the expected commercial development near the highway and remain strong and vibrant into the future. The highest traffic counts in the city have historically been on North Center Avenue where 9,000 to 12,000 vehicles a day traveled. The second highest traffic count is in the 400 block of 2nd Street and the 800 block of East 1st Street, showing the city traffic flow now goes more east to west than north to south as it did in previous years.
Could the Merrill City Transit system be expanding? That is the hope of the City Council who approved a plan to seek nearly $300,000 from the federal government. Merrill-Go-Round officials would like to purchase four to five buses that are all equipped with lifts for wheelchairs. Officials predict the total cost of the busses will be $291,500 and the city’s share will be $58,300 with the remaining amount being covered by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration. Citizens can have their say on the project at a public hearing scheduled for March 6 in the council chambers.
In news briefs: All three judicial candidates for the Lincoln County Circuit Court will appear at a forum next Monday. Michael Nolan, William Wulf and Richard Olson will speak at the event being held at Gallela’s Cork ‘n Dyne. The event is sponsored by the Merrill Business Professional Women’s Club. Expect to know the new name of the high rise facility being built in Merrill’s downtown next week. A contest coordinated by the Merrill Housing Authority to name the complex has been underway for the past month. In the case of a tie on the selected name, the envelope with the earliest postmark will be declared the winner. So far over 900 names have been suggested. Expect no breaks if you are caught running on city streets with your snowmobile. Chief of Police Charles Johnson issued the warning last week in light of recent complaints of sleds on streets and in alleys. The Weinbrenner Shoe Company held its annual retirement dinner this past week at Lincoln Lanes and for the first time a husband and wife team of retirees were honored. Marion and Albert Zimmerman of Cottage Street both worked for 38 years at the factory; Albert worked in the milling department where he started in October of 1939 and Marion in the finishing department where she began employment in July of 1940. Also honored were Gilbert Bootz, 38 years, retiring as maintenance supervisor; Kathryn Bloomquist who is retiring with 29 years in the insole department; Phyllis Kell of Irma who worked in the sewing department for 25 years; and LaVerna Brand who was in the sewing department for 25 years. An estimated 90 people attended the dinner which honors retirees and those employees with at least 25 years of service.
The Merrill Area Board of Education is beginning to lay out their plans for a middle school concept. MAPS actually began discussing the change in the 1970s when James Boettcher began laying the groundwork for the shift of grades that would put grades 6-8 in one building, likely the present day Junior High School. Today, Tom Genisot, former principal of Midway School, is taking charge of preparing a proposal for the board of education; he has been visiting middle schools throughout the state to learn what is working to help Merrill prepare a plan to change the Junior High building to a middle school. The BOE would like to vote on a plan by March and if approved potentially transition to the program by the start of the 1990 school year. If the change is made, it will affect all 3,400 students in the district as the plan must encompass every student from kindergarten to the high school, according to Genisot. Merrill Schools Superintendent Thomas Strick is completely behind the efforts to add the middle school to the local education system; he is also pleased with the theme of the project, “Kids First,” as studies have shown the need for extra guidance, support, understanding and motivation for those students in their most formative years.
In other MAPS news: Five candidates have stepped forward to try to fill three seats on the Board of Education; seeking re-election are Patricia Woller, Bruce Giese and Michael Willman. Their challengers are Brian Gridley and Barbara Chisnell. Gridley is a corporate systems analyst for Wausau Insurance Company and serves as a deacon in his church, Bible Presbyterian. Chisnell is a resident of Hamburg and teaches in the Edgar parochial school system; she said her campaign is based on her feeling that the current administration of MAPS is ignoring the rural schools. MAPS was also notified this past week they will be the recipient of a $2,500 grant for alcohol and traffic safety education. Merrill was fortunate to be one of only 34 districts in the state to receive funding for the program; Bob Yuska will coordinate the project for MAPS and hopes to form a local SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) Chapter. It is also the hope of Yuska to carry the message to the elementary school level.
There is much “Joy” in one Merrill household this week as a local couple is likely doing a “Jigg” as they escape the cold Wisconsin winter. The drawing for the winners in the annual January Thaw where held last evening at the Fairway Supper Club. Finalist from the 10,000 entries were invited to attend the drawing which was conducted by Foto News salesperson Kevin O’Day. The winners this year were Dawn Muschinske, winner of the microwave; Lorraine Preboske, winner of the trip to Las Vegas; and Joy Heideman, winner of the trip to Orlando. Thirty-six other qualifiers received gift certificates from area businesses, 18 of whom participated as sponsors of the event.
The Merrill Post Office has said goodbye to a guy who really knew how to deliver. Richard Simon has officially hung up his mail pouch after 31 years of government service. Simon is shown with postmaster Dennis Ball on his last day. His fellow postal workers added up the steps and believe he has walked around the world three times in total when you add all of his miles from his routes.
The normally quiet Merrill golf course had a bit of winter excitement this past Saturday when a hot air balloon landed on the snow covered 9th green. A 911 call alerted authorities to the balloon going down, but law enforcement was not needed according to the police department. Steve Woller of Wausau was giving a friend flying lessons when the balloon lost air and he was forced to set it down. The balloon and basket were removed to a waiting pickup truck.
Detailed biographies of the candidates for the newly created branch two of Lincoln County Circuit Court are provided in this week’s paper. Jim Godlewski, Donald Dunphy and Glenn Hartley are all seeking the spot. A primary will be held next Tuesday to narrow the field to two.
Looking to take the better half out for Valentine’s Day? Here is what some local merchants are offering: Kathy and Cal’s Club 64 is serving a prime rib and shrimp dinner for just $16.95, 3’s Company has a full menu including lobster for two, Buffalo Spirit restaurant is offering a 16oz T-bone steak with shrimp dinner with the first 25 ladies getting a free corsage, Club Modern has a two-day celebration with sirloin for two and a shrimp or lobster choices for just $29.95 including a bottle of champagne, Diamond Dave’s has a tenderloin and shrimp dinner for $14.95, Pine Ridge is offering over a dozen steak specials starting at just $5.95, and Skippers Restaurant is having its grand opening under new ownership with specials all weekend. Does a trip sound like more fun? See the folks at Travel Adventures for these specials on airfare only from CWA: Las Vegas $309, Tampa $298, Paris $442 and Honolulu $630.

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