Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
A 20% loss in business? Race track for teenagers? $4000 in wasted tax money? Could Merrill soon find itself a wasteland of destruction if the city continues on with their plans to turn E 1st and E 2nd Streets into one way streets? Those concerns were brought to a packed city council floor last evening as a public hearing was held on the matter. Alderman Roger English denounced his fellow council members for their quick acceptance of the proposal instead wishing for more study on the affect it would have on businesses. English noted even if the council voted to halt the project thousands of dollars had already been spent on signs to mark the streets as one way. Harold Dahlke who owns the smallest business on the targeted 2nd Street predicted his business would see a 20% reduction in customers, something no business could afford, he stated. Bob Knafe, manager of Gibson’s Department Store worried the one-way system would create a street out of his parking lot which sits between the two streets. Knafe is convinced motorists would use his parking lot as a shortcut. Chief of Police Charles Johnson told the group he remains neutral on the whole concept but noted the money has already been spent on the signs and “until it’s tried, we don’t know.” (Despite the fears the town and concept has survived since the trial basis)
The streets are lined with flags and three young ladies are anxiously awaiting the big dance as Labor Day weekend is upon us. Those three young ladies, Wanda Kleinschmidt, Cheryl Baumann, and Brenda Wilde, are all competing for the title of Labor Day Queen. That crown will be handed out on Saturday at the dance at Les & Jim’s Lincoln Lanes. The parade kicks off Monday morning at 10:00 AM and winds through the city streets to the fairgrounds where multiple drum and bugle groups will compete.
Lots going on with the local sports scene: The Merrill Giants captured the Wisconsin Baseball Association state championship with a win over Hayward in 12 innings. Giant Mark Simon picked up the win and the MVP award. One could say Hayward handed the trophy over themselves after a number of miscues late in the game. Merrill had tied the game 4-4 in the ninth when Dale Klug drew a walk and scored on an error. Head Coach Ira Rebella will begin his twelfth year at the helm of the Merrill Blue Jay football team as they kick off the season this Friday in Antigo. It is unusual for these two teams to hook up this yearly in the season; the Jays have a tough start of the season ahead of them as senior standout Mitch Wickman is sidelined for the season with a knee injury. Eleven letterman are returning for the season.
A meeting this past week was well attended as developers from Minnesota laid out their plans for a 16 unit elderly housing project in the building known as Old City Hall. Strand Wedul bought the building ten years ago to save it from the wrecking ball, and he felt confident that the developers would preserve the building and return it to its former self. The City Planning Commission will now have to approve the plans and most importantly the parking proposal; Mayor Ken Sparr spoke in favor of the renovation but wanted it noted that no city tax money will be used.
Union workers from Ward Paper Company staged an informational picket in front of River Valley State Ban this past Monday to protest demands placed upon the union by International Papers. River Valley was chosen as union and company leaders are utilizing the bank’s conference area for negotiations. The proposed contract calls for the end to premium pay on weekends, a cap on the company’s contribution to the employee health insurance premiums, a company option to operate 365 days a year and other contract language concerning wages and positions. Union members said they expect most employees will see a wage decrease between ten and twenty percent; they also noted that last year International Paper showed a profit of $750 million dollars.
MAPS has announced their support staff awards. Helen Burk, Randy Gatterman, Coletta Schroeder, and Rita Daley were all recognized for their work.
Good Samaritan Health Center has announced their plans for a $5.5 million dollar expansion. Construction will soon begin on a new surgical center which will be located on the north side of the building and an expanded emergency room which will double in size. The expansion is being made possible by a healthy hospital foundation fund which was bolstered by a fund raising campaign in the early 1990’s. The hospital has also improved financially the last few years according to Craig Nienow, Good Samaritan’s Chairman of the Board.