Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors moved up on their plans to examine the finances of Pine Crest Nursing home at their monthly meeting. Voting on a proposal from Supervisor Eugene Schmidt, the board voted to spend money to examine why they are losing money in the facility. Pine Crest Administrator Mark Willkom assured the board he expects the financial situation to turn around for the facility this year to at least the breakeven point. He said the 1977 construction and remodeling project left the home in a deficit, but the home is now full to capacity and beginning to stand on its own. Included in the measure was a statement which asked the research be concluded prior to September in case of a need for a referendum.
The mayoral race and other city business remains the focal point of advertising and stories this week. In an advertisement on page three, 13 local union heads list their endorsement of Alderman Jean Rogers for mayor. Those members include: Richard Rhyner, Anson-Gilkey; Dale Jabas, Lincoln Wood; Helen Frederick, House of Merrill; Dennis Henrichs, Building Trades; Edward Leavitt Laborers, Local 1359; Jake Reist, ROW; Betty Osnewski, WCA; Donald Nelson, Plumbers Local 557; Verlyn Yonke, Lincoln Co Highway; Dick Moser, Merrill Manuf; Milton Krause, Carpenters Local 204; Robert Beyer, Semling-Menke; Annette Evenson, Weinbrenner. Also the much talked about Community Research and Management Report from Dr. George James will be presented to the public at an open meeting next Tuesday. Mayoral Candidate Dick Baumgart has been critical of the council in the past for failing to hear the costly report. The report will be broken down into sections throughout the day with the first being the police department at 9:00 AM and ending with the treasurer at 2:30 PM.
Wisconsin Public Service has announced Joe Proulx is retiring as superintendent of Wisconsin Public Service Corporations western hydro plants operations headquartered in Merrill. Proulx joined WPS in 1945 as a laborer at the Wausau Hydro Plant where he was named operator in 1947. In 1967, he moved to Crivitz where he was named assistant superintendent of the company’s eastern hydro plants. In 1969 he transferred to the western division and was named superintendent in 1971. Charles Jameson will take Proulx’s place; he started at Merrill Hydro in 1953 and was named hydro operations aide in 1970. There are eight hydro plants along the Wisconsin and Tomahawk rivers.
A cabin at the Spot Motel north of Tomahawk has been destroyed in a fire. Tomahawk firefighters were called to the scene last Friday in the Town of Bradley. Chief John Peeters felt the fire was likely tied to heat tape attached to a sink in the building.
The Merrill Blue Jay boys’ wrestling team has completed their dual season with a perfect Valley 8-0 record. On Thursday, they faced a visit from the tough Athens’ team but walked away from the meet with a win by a score of 44-18, which brought their overall dual record to 16-0 on the season. Coach Roger Wendorf said the next step will be the conference meet in Antigo this Saturday.
Staff and students at the Prairie River Middle School got a surprise visit last Friday when a load of pulpwood spilled off a trailer and landed on the school’s land. A Merrill Police Officer reported a chain snapped as the truck rounded the corner causing the spill.
In the end fire put an end to what was almost an 80 year operation in Merrill’s Sixth Ward as the bean cannery has burned to the ground. Workers were already beginning to dismantle the factory, which was scheduled to be demolished this week, when it is believed a worker’s torch started the blaze. Firefighters from both Merrill and Corning battled the blaze for over five hours. The Lincoln County Canning Company was organized in 1920. Building of the factory began in February of that year allowing plenty of time to be ready to can vegetables by that fall when 275 acers of peas were harvested. The first building was 42×84 feet and three stories high. By 1922 the facility had quadrupled their acreage and doubled the can output to 71,000 cases of peas. After the war the company was producing 400,000 cases or tens of millions of cans of peas and beans. In 1924, 90 seasonal employees were on the payroll and by 1953, 475 operated the canning plant during the season. Oconomowoc Canning purchased the plant in 1953 making additions and modernizing the plant. In the 1970’s the company celebrated their millionth case of canned goods produced in one year. When Stokley sold to Chiquita, the assets of smaller plants like Merrill were quickly sold off leading to the end of the iconic fixture known to many in this area simply as the bean or pea factory.