Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
Members of the Merrill School Board took a major step towards a proposed expansion to the Merrill Junior High School. The board approved the preliminary drawings and sought approval from the fiscal board to get funding for the project. Roger Zuelsdorff cast the lone no vote on the matter; voting yes were Dr. E. O. Ravn, Harold Edmund, Barbara Hanson, Darrell Hulke, Dieter Nickel, Harold Schenzel, and Eleanor Sukow with Charles Eckerle absent. Discussions at the meeting centered around the current enrollment and proposed enrollment as well as if Merrill will continue to sustain the projected numbers. Currently the Junior High contains 832 and was built to contain 850 while projections show the school may swell up to 1,100 students within five years; currently 95% of the classrooms are currently in use. In his vote against the measure Zuelsdorff stated this is just a bad time in our economy to be spending millions of dollars. The need for classroom space is evident at this point, but Zuelsforff and others in attendance did not see the need for things such as a full swimming pool which is in the plans. Other concerns addressed by board members are the yet to be settled teachers contracts and the fact that Tomahawk voters just turned down a proposal for a new school there.
Local law enforcement is reporting very few problems after hundreds of students descended on Gleason over the weekend. The UW Point student newspaper came up with the idea of seeking out a change of scenery from the local beer bars where they normally spend their weekends. Residents of Gleason were able to take advantage of the surge in population with groups such as the Gleason Community and Ski clubs selling sandwiches and soda to the new residents, and Tony Montabon reported a one day record of beer sales at his bowling alley. Chief Deputy Harvey Woodward reported a couple of minor issues such as a broken window which quickly led to an arrest; he estimated the crowds between 1,500 and 3,000 students. Visiting law enforcement officers who numbered over 100 actually shut down the road heading into Gleason from about 2:30 to 7:30 on Saturday. Safety was a major concern, but many female students were provided chaperoned housing through the generosity of local residents. On Sunday morning many of the visitors joined local residents who picked up debris all over the village many then went and joined in an inter-denominational church service at the town hall.
The City of Merrill Common Council approved several zoning requests at the meeting last night which could result in considerable growth around the city. Second ward alderman Ellsworth Plautz cast the lone dissenting vote for a the rezone of an area at 3rd Street and Center Ave on what was the Seventh Day Adventist Church from residential to commercial. With the green light a developer from Wausau will now seek to build a CHIPS restaurant on that site. (Zonie, you voted against Chips?) Other projects include the area of Ninth and Spruce St for a 42 bed nursing home (never happened), a change of property on St Paul Drive and Taylor St for a 152 bed nursing home (still waiting), Paul Weaver has requested an area of St. Paul and Lakeview to be zoned as residential along with a request for water, and sewer service for 11 proposed building lots, (ended up being his home), a request from Kentucky Fried Chicken of Rhinelander to zone a residential area into commercial for a proposed restaurant on North Center Ave, and a request from Roger Gutknecht to expand Whispering Pines Trailer Court.
Paul Gruett has been elected chairman of the new Merrill Appliance Dealers Association. The group met for breakfast at Wisconsin Public Service this past week and selected Gruett as their leader; Lois Kluetz was also appointed secretary. Members include Douglas Hargrave of Hardgrave Appliance, William Radke of Associated Co-Op Service, and George Wanless of Kloss TV and Appliance along with Robert Akey and Bruce Stark from WPS.
Merrill’s new mayor won’t be sworn in until next week but Richard Holt is wasting no time checking out the insides of city hall. This past week he met with department heads to discuss his plans for the city. Holt told the group that although the position was part time he planned on being in his office every morning to take care of the affairs of state and would attend committee meetings as he is able. When discussing his campaign, Holt said the largest request he heard was about speeding vehicles in town and pedestrian safety. He charged Chief of Police Charles Johnson with coming up with a plan to work on both citizen concerns.
In local crime new: MAPS has suspended a bus driver pending the investigation into his arrest for driving a school bus while intoxicated. A deputy from Marathon County arrested the 53 year old man after stopping the bus he was driving for erratic driving. On board the bus was 23 track and field team members and two adults who were heading to a meet. As part of the discussion into the incident MAPS officials were pressed to make policy where a chaperone or teacher can stop a trip if they feel the bus driver is not fit for driving. Sheriff Ron Krueger is searching for the former chairman of the Town of Tomahawk. An investigation by Chief Deputy Harvey Woodward points to misuse and possible theft of town funds and bounced checks. It is suspected the former chair has fled to New Mexico in the wake of his resignation.
A Merrill man has been arrested on suspicion of violating his parole but larger charges may be looming as Inspector Tom Schotz investigates the man for an internal theft at a local convenience store. The man was secretly observed working the overnight shift at the store during which time cash and merchandise valued at $105 vanished, however, company investigators reported the thefts have been taking place for some time and they suspect over $4000 in losses.
The Merrill Common Council failed to override the veto of Merrill Mayor Ken Sparr leaving the future of McDonalds up in the air for now. Council members repeated their same votes with David D’Amico, Dennis Grefe, Cheryl Kanitz, Ellsworth Plautz and Patsy Woller voting for the controversial driveway and Roger English, Robert Monti and Bryan Stimers voting against. Kenneth Hull said his company will now regroup and decide if they still want to build in Merrill. The company had been looking to add a driveway off of State Rd 64 to turn into their parking lot, Sparr prefers the entry be made off of Pine Ridge Ave, calling it a safety matter. (Don’t worry they will still build, I bet)