Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
In briefs: Things are moving along on North Center Ave as three potential new businesses have applied for building permits. According to City Engineer Charles Pierotti, a Chips restaurant, a Holiday gas station, and a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant all have plans for building this fall. Francis Fox, commissioner of the Lincoln County Highway Dept, advised his agency is behind with their plans to address roads this year due to an oil shortage. This effects the road surfacing projects in the Town of Merrill and Wilson and the seal coating of Hwy 107. Orlen Heldt, postmaster, has announced the window at the post office in Merrill will now close at 10:00 AM Saturdays. Previously the window had been open until noon. The lobby will remain open until 6:30 PM.
The City of Merrill has grown in population and now outranks Antigo and Ashland. Figures from the United States Census were shared by Mayor Ralph Voigt this past week. Census counts show the city has gone down slightly in population, but not as far as the others. Merrill is currently at 9,426 residents, compared to ten years ago when it had 9,451. Ashland follows at 9,274 and Antigo trails at 8,940. Rhinelander dropped over 700 residents and now sits at 8,058, Superior leads cities north of State Rd 64 with 33,563.
The road to the capital in Madison goes through the City of Merrill. Patrick J. Lucey, a democrat seeking the nomination was in Merrill this morning. He spoke at the Lincoln House Motor Lodge this morning before touring Weinbrenner Shoe Company. This afternoon his republican opponent Jack Olson is scheduled to speak at an event sponsored by the Lincoln County Democratic Party at Club 64.
Lincoln County has a new fire department, but they only plan on working for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. The Geiss brothers, owners of the Little Florida Mobile Home Park in the Town of Merrill, have organized a group of volunteers to man Jerry Geiss’s pumper truck to help hold back flames until firefighters from the Merrill Fire Department can arrive on the scene. Jerry Geiss bought the used pumper truck with the intention of using it as a lawn sprinkler. The 1950 Ford was originally used as a fire engine at the Miller Brewery in Milwaukee before making its way to Geiss. The Champion fire apparatus is easy to use as it only takes two people to operate it. It is one of the only high pressure pumpers operating in northern Wisconsin. The intention of the all-volunteer squad is not to take the place of the Merrill crew, but to try to put out as much fire as possible until they arrive from town. Hugh “Pat” Kelly, who served nine years as a Navy firefighter will be chief of the yet to be named fire department. Gary Roggenbuck was chosen as assistant chief.
Things are heating up in the sheriff’s race as incumbent Ron Krueger and challenger Ron Hirte debated in front of an audience at the Merrill Senior Center this past week. Krueger, a member of the agency since 1969, said that he has tried to upgrade equipment and provide leadership. However, Hirte charged that the agency lacks centralized leadership. Krueger contended that he has done all he can to improve equipment around the department but cited tough fiscal times for holding back much needed funding. Hirte, a five year veteran, said visitors seeking the sheriff are often told he is away or attending a conference while promising his door will always be found open. Hirte also cited the need to improve morale from within, noting it was greatly needed.
Riverfest at Ott’s Park in Merrill had mixed success this past weekend as rains dampened crowds. The main event at this year’s event were powerboats which were well received and an amateur boxing contest which kept crowds busy running between the two events on Saturday. A dance was held at the armory on Saturday night that attracted 450 people to hear the music of the band 1910. State Representative Sheehan Donoghue (R-Merrill) made the biggest splash when she made an impromptu jump from a boat and swam back to the park. Donoghue took the plunge to win a $100 bet from Robert Savaske who then donated the money to the Jaycees, the organizers of the fun which they hope to make an annual event.
A former Merrill restaurant owner has died. Keene Warren, 79, now of Waukesha died last Wednesday at his home. Warren was the owner operator of the 51 – 17 Club bar and restaurant (Eagles Club site now) in Merrill for many years. His service and burial will be in Waukesha; local survivors include his son Vern Warren of Merrill.
You have your chance at having a say on the annexation of 85 acres of land on the south side of Merrill from the Town of Scott. Steve Blake, current owner of Club Modern, and Otto Moritz, owner of Maple Manor Trailer park have initiated a petition for annexation into the city. They desire to have city services such as sewer and water. That meeting is next Tuesday at city hall.
It is still a year away, but the Lincoln County 4H Fair Board has announced they have parted ways with their longtime carnival provider Belle City Amusements and will move up the 1991 fair to July. Calkins Amusements will provide the entertainment at next year’s event. Because of the change the fair will have to meet Calkins’ schedule instead of holding it mid-August like normal. (Anyone my age or older will never forget the interesting carnival show called Belle City. Many times I have noted in this column that the second generation of owners had really turned the company around, but unfortunately it appears they did not survive the Covid)