Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
Two Merrill firemen were injured, one seriously after a firetruck they were riding in rolled over Monday morning while responding to a call. The pair were riding in the front of the 1967 rural pumper truck being driven by fireman Harvey Emanuel. Lt. Lee E. Hodgson received leg and back injuries while firefighter John Reisinger Jr received a broken wrist. Emanuel was driving the pumper west on Main Street near Water Street when the accident occurred. Police said they have been unable to talk to Emanuel yet to determine the cause of the crash; he escaped injury. A thunderstorm was occurring at the time of the mishap. Firemen responded in a second truck and ended up calling a third in to contain the fire the group was responding to. The fire broke out at the Alexander Hydro Dam in the town of Harding at 7:00 AM. The fire was contained to the lower room of the dam in the circuit breaker system. District manager Don Koll from Wisconsin Public Service called the fire costly, estimating to have caused $250,000 in damages. ($1.6 million today) Fire Chief Ray Priebe oversaw the fire scene; he called the fire the hottest he has ever fought. A second fire was reported about the same time on Cain Creek Rd and County Line Rd in the Town of Pine River. Firemen weren’t immediately able to respond to that fire and were later told it was under control.
The storm that rolled through the area on Monday caused widespread damage and outage of essential services from Tomahawk to Merrill. General Telephone Company reports most of their telephone lines were down for most of the day. A main feeder line on State Rd 107 near Club 107 went down and took out power to the Ward Paper Mill which sat idle for hours waiting for the line to be repaired.
The population of the new school for juvenile offenders at Irma continues to grow. Paul Imler, superintendent of Lincoln Boys School reports that 26 boys ranging in age from 12 to 18 are now housed at the facility. Imler predicts that 120 youth will be at the school by January with some being moved from School for Boys at Wales in Waukesha County. Two of the 12 cottages are open and a third is expected to be open later next month. The question that remains unanswered is whether the school will become co-educational and allow the admittance of delinquent girls. Imler said that 22 juvenile institutions in 18 states operate as co-ed; it would be up to the state Health and Social Services Board if Lincoln Boys School will allow girls. If approved a plan calls for separate cottage like dormitories. The boys and girls would attend school together and participate in some social and recreational activities.
Police Chief Charles Johnson has confirmed parking enforcement officer Marie Golde will remain on the job. Johnson had two meter maids/cross guards hired under a federal program that paid the wages of the two. Faced with a lack of funding from the new defunct CETA program Johnson was forced to choose one of the two to now be funded by the city. Chief Johnson explained both Golde and her counterpart Patricia Engel did well in their rolls, but Engel dropped out of contention as she and her husband will likely be moving from the city for his employment. (When I was a kid my dad parked in front of the meter outside John’s United Foods, just to “run in quick” for something. Here comes Marie in the Cushman and she started writing him a ticket. I get out of the car and inform her that the car belonged to my dad, who was a police officer. She replied, “then he should know better” and kept writing.)
It appears the factory known as the Anson and Gilkey Company will remain idle as the current owners have filed for bankruptcy protection. The building was closed in June and 150 employees were locked out in what was described as a temporary suspension of production. The C. R. Conant Company of Oconomowoc bought the company in 1972, at the time 250 employees worked under its roof. Conant was trying to sell off equipment in the building and local firms had asked about purchasing the buildings, but all of those talks have now ended due to the bankruptcy filing.
Maybe Ken Oldenburg picked the wrong occupation? County Clerk Ken Oldenburg is reporting very positive results of the short term investment the county made in funds earmarked for the now under construction Safety Building. The county had borrowed the money but realized it did not need to make payments with the cash until this fall. The board recommended investing $75,000 and Oldenburg reports between the interest earned and short term investment County Treasurer Florian Koehler is now reporting having $130,690 on hand. Initially the county hoped to earn $50,000 which they planned on using for furnishings and landscaping, now the money will go towards the debt of the building which is scheduled to be completed in February.
A criminal case that has involved three prosecutors, seven judges, and several defense attorneys came to an abrupt end Monday when a murder trial that was set to be heard by a jury from Dunn County was adjourned after a plea of no contest was entered. The almost yearlong (and tragic) case resulted in the conviction of Merrill Attorney Ronald Priebe for second degree murder. Priebe, a graduate of Marquette Law School, was charged in the death of Jamie Spamer, 21, at his North Center Ave home. The events began on December 3, 1979 when Priebe called for an ambulance for the injured Spamer who died a short time later at Holy Cross Hospital. A pathologist testified that Spamer died from blunt force trauma to the head and chest. Priebe has practiced law in Merrill since his 1972 graduation from Marquette; he was ordered to report to the Lincoln County Jail to awaait sentencing.
Lincoln County is under pressure to quickly apply for a state grant to remove the ill-fated Prairie Dells Dam. The dam was deemed as unsafe in 1980 and a series of blunders, lawsuits, and repairs has only resulted in more indecisions between engineers, residents, the Town of Schley, Lincoln County, and an interest group headed by Clifford Mosser. The DNR warned the county that the fund, which has earmarked $200,000 to remove the dam, may be used for other purposes if the funds are not accepted this year.