Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
Plans by the Lincoln County Board to sell or lease Pine Crest Nursing Home to a private company have been met with strong backlash from supervisors and members of the public, leading the board to vote unanimously to end talks. The board’s Legislative Committee was tasked with studying the possible change in ownership or operation of the facility after some members of the board of trustees expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of reimbursement and direction given Superintendent Margaret Stark. Supervisor George Thieler of Tomahawk expressed mixed thoughts in discussion before the board last week saying the county owns the building and it would be foolish to lease it or sell it. Critical of the management of the facility, Thieler did call to “have a man out there who’s qualified to manage it.” Lester Voigt, a former supervisor and now chairman of the Pine Crest trustees, told how Stark had offered her resignation two weeks ago, but it was refused by his group. Voigt said the facility operated at a loss in 1969 but expected to make up the loss in 1970 thanks to a rate increase that became effective July 1st. The county had been in talks with Edward Hong of Rhinelander to operate Pine Crest; Hong currently owns the Golden Age home in Tomahawk. Supervisor Patrick Nugent of Merrill’s Sixth Ward led the efforts to halt the sale or lease.
Lincoln Hills School in Irma hosted over 3,400 people this past weekend to tour the recently completed facility. Visitors were able to tour the administration building, school, chapel, and at least one of the 25 man residence cottages on the $7.3 million dollar campus. Newly installed mercury vapor lights were highlighted as a new security addition to the fenceless facility; those economical lights only cost the facility $190 a month to operate.
Lincoln County Sheriff Al Giese is warning hunters to be more wary of their surroundings as his agency spent Sunday searching for the tenth missing hunter this year. A Merrill man and his 15 year old son became lost and then separated while hunting up off of Conservation Rd this past Sunday. DNR Warden Don Manthei found the boy on Monday morning; during the search, four volunteers also became lost but were quickly found.
An explosion at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church behind the high school last night left 34 boy scouts from Troop 309 injured and five more dead—and thankfully, it was only a drill. Fire Chief Ray Priebe and Hospital Administrator Robert Koepke planned the mock disaster with no previous warning to emergency providers. It took firemen 45 minutes to transport the “injured” to Holy Cross Hospital where teams of doctors and nurses were waiting for them. All off duty firemen and policemen reported as planned and the civil defense siren on the Sixth Ward fire barn was instrumental in altering them to the trouble. Off duty hospital staff and doctors reported to the hospital as soon as word spread through town of the event and worked to clear areas including the cafeteria for patient triage and care.
In the end, the members of the Lincoln County Board voted to install a jury room in the courthouse but rejected the request for an elevator. The current jury room is located across the street in the basement of the jail, however, that will likely be demolished when the new safety building opens. The low bid for the elevator is from Wimmer Construction of Schofield for $27,700; the jury room project has seen bids as high as $22,900. Supervisor Frank Magnus chastised the decision to stall the elevator project saying it was like building a bathroom without water. The board also approved the hiring of Michael Hemp, Route 1 in Arpin, as the new Lincoln County Highway Commissioner. Hemp will replace Duane Gau, who resigned last month to become the Marathon County highway commissioner. Hemp holds a registered professional engineers license; he becomes a second generation highway commissioner as his father Marvin held the post in Clark County for the past 18 years.
Residents on Merrill’s west side are searching for a new shopping venue after the closing of Mel’s Big Dollar store. The store closed suddenly late last month and now residents in the area are forced to go to mid-city or to the Sixth Ward to purchase groceries according to Ray Gutenberger, president of the West Side Business Association. Hardest hit by the closure are the 95 residents of Park Place, many of whom took advantage of the short walk to the store. Now many of them are taking advantage of the Merrill Go Round, which has seen ridership nearly double on grocery run days according to Harry Banaszak, administrator of the bus service. Delores Olsen, executive vice president of the Merrill Chamber is hoping something goes into the empty building soon, but so far, the chamber has heard nothing as to a possible occupant.
The Semling-Menke Company of Merrill has submitted the high bid for the purchase of the Anson & Gilkey plant complex. The bid of $300,000 was received Friday at the US Bankruptcy Court in Milwaukee. A bid submitted by Lincoln County Bank for $200,000 was rejected. Stuart Smith, owner of the Woodchip Corporation of America also placed a bid. The buildings are comprised of 440,000 sq feet under one roof on 16 acres.
Hunters having issues with their licenses for the gun deer season are reminded that County Clerk Kenneth Oldenburg will hold office hours until 9:00 PM on the Friday before the season starts. If you have any issues after hours or on Thanksgiving, you can call Oldenburg at his Gleason home.
Things are looking bleak for Merrill’s historic former city hall building as the city council has greenlighted plans to demolish the building. The 101 year old brick building has been condemned by Fire Chief Harvey Emanuel, and city building inspector Dan Dziadosz has issued a raze order. The council had postponed the order giving building owner Strand Wedul one year to repair the structure, but that reprieve expired October 1st. Wedul is working with Gary Stenson of RPI, a developer from Minnesota who is trying to obtain a federal grant to save the building and turn it into apartments for the elderly. Stenson has yet to hear back on his application but is fearful poor economic times may hinder the government grant.