Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
Authorities think a tornado might have touched down north of Merrill as a torrential rains and wind tormented the area this past Saturday. Flash flooding was an immediate concern after the storm as the Prairie River overflowed its banks and washed out roadways in the Towns of Merrill and Birch.
High winds destroyed several buildings in the Irma area and caused chaos at Lincoln Hills Schools as roofs were torn off of buildings. Lincoln County was first alerted to the severity of the storm when a tornado was spotted near Goodrich in Taylor County at 4:56 PM, this prompted tornado sirens to be sounded at Merrill and evacuations to be ordered at Lincoln Hills. At the time the storm passed the school held 251 students and 35 staff members. Roofs were torn off cottages R and the security cottage, while the roof of the gymnasium was lifted and moved several inches. Some of the facility also sustained water damage and Merrill rural firefighters rushed to the facility after smoke from an emergency generator was mistaken for a fire.
Multiple roads were closed as culverts were washed out and Raymond Kloss, foreman at the highway department, reported it was easier to tell the roads that were open than to list all the roads that were closed. In total 3.68 inches of rain fell at Merrill, while 2.12 inches was reported at Tomahawk. City engineer Charles Pierotti reported the wastewater treatment plant at Merrill processed 3.6 million gallons of water Sunday, most of it from storm drains, up from the usual 1.6 million gallon daily average.
In a bid to attract and retain seasoned lifeguards the city’s Personnel and Finance Committee voted to increase the pay up to $3.50 per hour for experienced guards with a certificate from the Water Safety program. The moves is an attempt to keep Otts Park beach open for the summer.
The Merrill Historical Society is celebrating the completion of phase one of the remodeling of the former T.B. Scott home into their museum. A dedication will be held tomorrow at the facility to honor the 435 members of the group who have helped facilitate the remodel. A permanent plaque will be placed in the museum commemorating the major financial contributors for the project. According to the Rev. Paul Nulton, who acted as the chair of the fund drive, approximately $35,000 in cash was raised and $28,000 in donations such as grants, labor and materials was also donated. Much of the focus of the work included the exterior siding of the home, the roof, and the upper exhibit gallery. According to President Alice F. Kruger phase II of the project will now begin with another fund drive, in hopes of establishing a logging museum in the former garage of the home. The home was acquired as part of a 20-year lease from the neighboring Christ United Methodist Church; it was the home of Merrill’s first mayor Thomas B. Scott prior to becoming a funeral home operated by the Krueger family in 1940.
The Merrill Fire Department sharpened their skills this past week by burning an abandoned home on 2nd Street across from the Fair grounds. Firefighter Ron Hocket is shown spraying water on the burning home on page three. Hocket, a Merrill native, was recently appointed to the department after serving on the West Milwaukee Fire Department. The house was purchased by Larry Peeters who intended on remodeling the home, but when the city informed him the only option was to raze the home he instead donated it to the fire department to use. Lt. Dan Deml headed the training; it put to use the department’s new positive pressure fan which helps remove smoke, heat, and toxic fumes from fires. (It only took 100 years for those in the fire service to figure out to turn the fan around to make it work)
Merrill Federal Savings and Loan has announced they will be closed until Noon Friday as they mourn the loss of their former Chairman of the Board, Frederick Doepke. Doepke, a 1933 graduate of the Wisconsin Law School at Madison, passed away Sunday at Pine Crest Nursing Home at the age of 79.
He was one of the founders of the bank and was currently considered Director Emeritus of the financial institution.
Doepke was the former city attorney for Merrill and served as the court commissioner of Lincoln County; he and his brother in law Mel Monroe at one time owned Monroe Motors in Merrill.
If you have the cash you could be in charge of the rocket’s red glare and a few bombs bursting in air this 4th of July. Lyle Jaegler will auction off the job of being his assistant as he lights the sky above Merrill on the Fourth, a show Jaegler has declared the largest Merrill has ever seen. The auction will be held at Dave’s County Market at 9:00 AM Saturday and will be carried live on WJMT.