Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
June 3, 1970
Local authorities reported traffic was normal for a holiday weekend as thousands of tourists headed north for the unofficial start of summer. Sheriff Al Giese reported that for the first time he had a minimum of two deputies patrolling around the clock although traffic work on Hwy 51 is mainly done by the Wisconsin State Patrol. Chief of Police Gerald Plautz noted most of his weekend staffing is centered around providing traffic control on the highway which runs right through Merrill. The State DOT reports the City of Merrill sees on average 5,043 cars a day travel through on Hwy 51. During the summer months those numbers rise to a daily average of 8000 cars per day in August. Sheriff Giese stated the traffic count would be higher on the highway but by now most locals have taken to using County Rd W and State Rd 17 to avoid weekend travelers. Officials at the state plan on building a bypass around Wausau that will end north of Merrill with completion slated for 1975.
Emil Krueger, formerly of Merrill, has purchased the former William Nick Funeral Home in Tomahawk. Emil began working as a funeral director under his brother Norbert at the Krueger Funeral Home on 3rd St in Merrill before he moved to Tomahawk 17 years ago in service to the Nick Funeral Home. Emil has been manager of that funeral home for the past five years. Emil Krueger will be joined by his son James Krueger who just completed his studies at Milwaukee and has received his funeral directors license. The new company will be known as Krueger and Son. John (Bud) Nick was operating the William Nick Funeral home after the death of his father; he plans on moving to Wausau where he will teach at Horace Mann.
County Clerk Ken Oldenburg is letting prospective candidates know they can begin circulating nomination papers for partisan offices for this fall’s election. One less position will be on the ballot as the county eliminated the elected position of Surveyor. The post was held by Anton Kordic, but he declined to run in 1968 and no one stepped forward to fill the seat. Seats on the ballot and incumbents holding the seats are: Clerk Oldenburg’s seat, Treasurer held by Mrs. Glenn (Florian) Koehler, Clerk of Courts held by Mrs. Ted (Lucille) Lokemoen, Register of Deeds currently Warren Weckwerth, Sheriff’ office held by Alfred Giese, District Attorney James Rogers’ post, and Coroner’ s post filled by Dr. William Braun.
It was a tragic start to the summer season as a youth from Milwaukee drowned at Tomahawk this past weekend. The youth was swimming with a companion near the Somo View Resort when he began floundering 100 feet from the shore. His companion reached the victim twice but was not able to bring him to shore. The victim’s father watched the boy drown from the shore, unable to swim he was left helpless.
After a lengthy debate the Merrill School Board has raised the cost of behind the wheel to $10 per student. The costs associated with renting new cars from local car dealers was the main reason behind the increase. The negotiated cost per day to rent the vehicles is $4, an increase of $3,280 over last year’s cost. MAPS expects 375 students to take behind the wheel training this summer. Another reason driving the increase is the cost of gas which has risen to $1.30 a gallon. In comparison, Wausau is charging $15 per student for the training.
Off duty deputies raced into action Friday night after a tornado warning was issued for the Merrill area. Deputies in Marathon and Taylor counties had previously reported funnel clouds leading to the added awareness and prompting County Emergency Government Director Norm Heideman to issue the warning around 4:30 PM. Merrill Police officers kept watch while deputies fielded phone calls from spotters. Officers reported vehicular traffic in the city quickly slowed as people sought refuge from the storm. The bulk of the high winds quickly came through the city around 4:40 PM followed by torrential rain and swirling clouds. Heideman declared the storm had passed by 5:15 PM and lowered the warning to a watch.
Students looking for work this summer may find it hard to come by with the downturn in local industry making jobs hard to come by. Roy Hull, guidance director at Merrill High School, noted many local factories hire graduating seniors to provide for fill in staff to cover vacation and help during summer rushes. Most local factories have laid off many employees in the last few months so jobs are hard to find. James Alft, director of the Merrill Job Service, is pointing teens to summer jobs at resorts in northern Wisconsin but notes those jobs can be costly as the resorts often deduct room and board directly from the paycheck. Those seeking to enter schools such as North Central Technical may find relief in the way of financial aid as that school is reporting 90% of those students applying are getting the aid.
The Merrill Board of Education has once again made known their desire to tighten the belts of the administration team when they voted 7-2- Thursday to study the elimination of a principal position within the district. School Superintendent Thomas Struck had sought to replace Washington School Principal Robert Gruling by moving around some current principals and planned to hire a new person to fill the principal role at Midway School, formerly held by Garth Swanson. Swanson has been moved to Washington to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Gruling. School board member Thomas Sazama led the charge to seek further consolidation of administration duties, voting against the study were members Mike Willman and Tom Wardell.