Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
The spring election will likely see a larger than normal turnout countywide with several contests on the ballot. The biggest headline grabber is the race to be Merrill’s next mayor that pits two local insurance salesman, Dick Baumgart and Richard Holt against each other. The two are vying for the seat which will be vacated by longtime mayor Ralph “Fata” Voigt who chose not to run. On the council all but one ward will see contests. You will see the following names on the ballot: District one – Richard Hayes and James Richard Mahn, District 2: Elsworth Plautz and Frank Kloth, District 3: Stanley Frisch and David D’Amico, District 4: Ronald Schroeder and Bryan Stimers, District 5: Patrick Nugent and DeLyle Bohse, and in the 8th: Anita Gebert and Walter Proft. Merrill’s Street Commissioner Phil Erickson will see a challenge from Donald Hanneman. Six people are running for three seats on the BOE, they are Dan Olson, David Martindale, Patricia Weber, Dorothy Schneider, Lee Wegner, and Thomas Sazama.
In briefs: Donald Bice has resigned as president of the Anson Gilkey Company. He intends on returning to Indiana to operate his own corporation. Merrill Police have cleared up numerous burglary cases in the city after arresting an adult male and several juveniles. The burglaries targeted both homes and businesses and were mostly on the west side; Inspector Tom Schotz and Juvenile Sgt. Jack Kleinschmidt worked the case. Olaf Lokemoen has announced he is retiring as owner of Lincoln Cleaners and will close the doors next Saturday. The business began with his father in 1928, and Olaf joined in 1946 claiming to have only missed two days of work in over 30 years. MAPS has announced the hiring of Pete Miller. Miller is a native of Michigan and will serve as coach of the girls’ track team and assistant boys’ basketball coach.
The congregants of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Merrill are mourning the loss of their pastor, the Rev. Frederick Pralle. Rev. Pralle was installed at St. John’s in January after serving congregations in Texas, Kansas and Illinois. After being taken ill he returned to his native Illinois where he died today at the age of 59. Rev. Gerhard Michael will officiate at local services; Pastor is survived by his wife Ruth, his mother, and three daughters.
Could a mayoral veto sink the McDonalds before it ever serves a burger? Officials from McDonalds have announced all plans are off the table for the east side eatery after Mayor Ken Sparr vetoed plans for a driveway that would allow access off State Rd 64 onto the property. Sparr would like all traffic going into McDonald to use Pine Ridge Ave to alleviate safety concerns. Other parts of the building plan were all approved, but Ken Hull, representing McDonalds, indicated the company plans to pull back and re-evaluate the Merrill project. Meetings this morning with the Chamber and McDonalds did not change the mayor’s position on his first veto since he took office.
A longtime Merrill Police Officer is hanging up his badge. Lt. Donald g. Trantow will walk out the door on April 1, exactly 30 years after he began employment with the city. Trantow has been a shift commander or lieutenant since 1986. After joining the department, he was quickly promoted to sergeant. For many years, he has coordinated the local school safety patrols and their annual trips to the Wisconsin Dells. When recalling some of his more memorable arrests Trantow recalled the capture of Charles Wilde who had assaulted a deputy and escaped from the jail. Wilde was in custody after he toppled cable TV and DNR towers in northern Wisconsin. Jeffery D. Anderson has been promoted to lieutenant to replace Trantow; Anderson has been on the force since 1977.
The fundraising goal for private donations for the expansion and renovation of the T. B. Scott Library has officially been exceeded. A pledge by the David and Katherine Smith Foundation of $50,000 along with a pledge from Weinbrenner Shoe Company this past week has put the total pledges to $1.2 million dollars surpassing the $1 million dollar goal. Voters must now decide if they wish to support the remaining costs through a tax increase. The Merrill Common Council will have the final say on the $3.2 million dollar project. A similar referendum in 1998 failed.
In a letter to the editor a resident is calling for voters to oust idle county board members over the jail/justice center controversy. The letter points out that 75% of the voters chose to keep the jail on its current spot and the board itself supported the advisory referendum with a majority vote that same month. Now almost a year later the building committee continues to meet and spend money but still cannot decide where it should go. The letter points out an admonishment from Chief Judge Mohr should get the project going now.