Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
The effects of the national recession have made their way to Merrill and the local wood window industry is reeling from it. Unemployment is high, spring lay-off call backs are slow, and nobody is predicting near future optimism. The most severe reaction is from House of Merrill who decided to close up shop at least temporarily this spring. The plant had been shut down for a week and a half while finalizing the last building orders and then opened up on Monday with a reduced work force to complete those orders. Linda Semling, general manager, said the plant will be closed in about two months for an undetermined amount of time. She reports that market analysts predict the housing slump will last anywhere from six months to a year. Like House of Merrill, most other housing industries in Merrill are reporting a drop of 20-30% in orders. Northern Door reports a 30% drop off. They have had 15-20 employees on lay-off since November with no immediate plans for callbacks according to assistant plant manager Kenneth Klebenow. Northern Door workers who remain working are benefiting for a remodeling project in the factory, which will affect 95% of the plant. Wisconsin Window Unit has about 50 of its 150 employees working. It laid off its 30 production workers last week leaving the managing, sales, assembly, and retail employees working. Lincoln Wood reports a 25-30% drop in orders. There have been from up to 30 employees on voluntary lay-off the past two months with no immediate plans for callback. Employees at Semling-Menke Company have been on modified three day work weeks for several months. This has allowed the company to keep most of their employees working although management concedes that orders have dropped off dramatically in the last year. Anson-Gilkey reported laying off 40 employees in November, but 15 of those have returned. Last year at this time the company had no spring lay-offs. Northern Specialty and Merrill Millwork both reported full production with no planned lay-offs although no overtime is being offered unlike last year. The current unemployment rate in Lincoln County is 8.8% according to Job Service.
Multiple people have been arrested, and three police officers, a suspect, and a patron all found themselves in the emergency room after a scuffle at Gooze’s Blue Jay bar this past Saturday morning. The four that were arrested all share the same last name and list addresses from Wausau to Merrill with ages ranging from 44 to 19. Injured in the arrests were officers Edward Klein, Ned Seubert, and Richard Hermsen. Damage to the bar was estimated to exceed $300.
The Merrill Common Council has agreed to purchase the home of David Detjens at 1007 E 2nd St in order to expand parking in and around city hall. City Attorney John Theil reports this purchase is part of the long range plan for parking for the next three to five years. Plans are in the work to also purchase homes on West 3rd St to provide for additional parking around the high school. Bids will also be sought to remove the former Trantow Building Center warehouse that is located behind East Main Street in order to develop additional parking behind downtown businesses.
A meeting with multiple entities had a positive response as community members explored the idea of a multipurpose facility to be built at the Lincoln County Fair Grounds in order to provide year-round activities for ice enthusiasts. The proposed building would have curling and ice rinks, group rooms, lobby, offices, kitchen, locker rooms etc. – the facility is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $1.3 million dollars. Gremmer-Bablitch of Stevens Point is the architectural firm involved in the project; they and the committee hope to appear in front of the MAPS board in May to get the green light for the project. The county is backing idea of enhancing the grounds.
Monies continue to flow in for a proposed expansion of the T. B. Scott Library. Area financial institutions donated a combined $60,000 and the Avant family, owners of Metal Industries and Rite Screen, donated $100,000. The library board is attempting to raise $1 million dollars for the $3.5 million dollar project.
Looking for a fish fry on Friday? The Entertainment page is filled with ideas. The Buffalo Spirit is offering all you can eat Alaskan cod, the Highway 51 Truck Stop has an all you can eat buffet ever day which features a variety of fish, Champs is offering smelt, haddock, walleye and shrimp, the Italian U-Boat will give you a fish fry for $4.75 all day on Friday, Diamond Dave’s features baked or deep fried cod for $7.95 and perch for $8.80, while Gail’s Place has got shrimp scampi as the special this Friday for just $7.95.