Fotos from the Past
Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
The fiscal control board will meet this evening at 7:30 to decide the direction of the proposed renovation plans for Merrill Senior High School. The agenda also lists the proposed borrowing of $3.8 million dollars to fund the project. Observers noted that overall the project is gaining acceptance around town and now has the endorsement of the Merrill Optimist and Lions Club. The big question that keeps coming up is what to do about parking around the school, which has notoriously lacked parking for years. Suggestions include utilizing the pool and Athletic Park for parking.
The police logs are filled with activity over this past week: Sheriff Ron Krueger said foul play is not suspected in the death of 70 year old John Oestreich who was found dead Monday in the Town of Harding. Oestreich went fishing by himself on Averill Creek when he went missing; relatives began searching for Oestreich when he did not return and found him in the water. Police will now enforce and signs have been posted warning residents not to feed waterfowl in the city. The hope is that with a lack of food supply the birds will migrate south over the winter. Vandals are being sought after damage was found at the fairgrounds this past week; the reporting person, Ellsworth Plautz told officers he suspected children of the damage to the St. Johns and St. Francis stands.
Tom “Skipper” Walters is hanging up the spatula after 42 years of serving customers at Skipper’s in downtown Merrill. Walters sold the business to Bob and Signa Lambrecht who officially take over September 1st. Skipper gained his nickname while working as an 18 year old skipper at a Minocqua resort boat launch. When he opened Skippers you could get a chicken dinner with dessert for .35 or a T-bone steak dinner for .50. Originally the restaurant was down the street from the current location where 12 counter stools filled the entry way and waitresses worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week serving customers. In 1947, the restaurant moved to its current location where it eventually evolved from a 24 hour breakfast place to a restaurant that closed after lunch. Lambrechts plans on keeping the established name.
The buzz is distinct on the far east side of town as Drew’s Piggly Wiggly prepares for their grand opening this Thursday at 8:00 AM. The 30,000 square foot store will feature a deli, floral shop, large video rental section, and a bakery as well as a fresh fish center. Brothers Phil and Steve Drew will manage the store, which will employ 150 people.
Plans to annex land from the Town of Pine River were denied by the City Planning Commission this past week. Stuart Smith failed to appear at the hearing to discuss the annexation although progress is already being made on the trucking terminal in the targeted area. Reports indicate Smith had requested a 30 day delay in the hearing.
Mayor Ken Sparr got to play host to the mayors of several central Wisconsin communities today. The group gathered to discuss underground storage tanks, recycling, annexation and state budgets. Also attending were numerous city engineers and chamber organizations.
Sacred Heart Hospital in Tomahawk will open an out-patient clinic in Merrill. The clinic will be located at 402 W Main St and will allow employers to direct their troubled employees to professional assistance and get them on the road to recovery. The hospital still has an inpatient center at their Tomahawk campus.
Roger Gutknecht has announced the completion of the first of 19 condominium projects on Thielman St. It is expected that occupancy will occur by the end of the year in the fourplexes he is designing. The development will be known as Eastgate.
The lake known as the Prairie is no more. This past week International Papers began drawing down the lake as part of the plan to remove the dam at the now idle Ward Paper Mill site. Judge Patrick Brady from Wausau denied the last ditch attempt by the City of Merrill to issue an injunction to stop the drawdown. Many residents visited the area over Labor Day weekend and left shaking their heads as the area became a smelly mud flat. Black balloons were even festooned on bridge railings with a sign that read, “this used to be God’s Country.” DNR Secretary George Meyer did not respond to a petition asking for reconsideration.
In an editorial on page two, Publisher Jim O’Day announces that the Foto News has been sold to a company known as Add Inc., a division of Journal Communications. O’Day thanks his family and dedicated employees for making the paper an award winning publication that has served Lincoln County for the past thirty years. Currently, the Foto News enjoys a circulation of 16,500.