Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
The State of Wisconsin Public Service Commission will weigh in on plans by the city to scrap the municipal bus service and turn its motor carrier license over to a private taxi service. The plan developed by the city is to have one bus make two runs through the city on school days for Junior and Senior High students who live within two miles of the school but are not eligible for transportation. All other functions being handled by Park City Cab and Bus Service which will be operated by Ralph and Glenn Peterson. State Senator Clifford Krueger, R-Merrill, has had the meeting moved to Merrill City Hall a week from today, which was previously set to be held at the Marathon County Court House. The Petersons plan on operating their taxi from 6:00 a.m. to midnight daily.
Harry Wildes, owner and proprietor of Sixth Ward businesses, Wildes Oil and Harry’s Drive Inn, has died. Wildes, age 52, died this past Saturday at the hospital in Marshfield after a brief illness. He came to Merrill about 20 years ago and soon became deeply involved in the community. Besides his two business ventures, Wildes was a Merrill On the Move committee scroll winner in 1970, a former chairman of the Special Promotional Events Committee, a member and past president of the Merrill Lions Club, a member of the Sixth Ward Business Association, Aerie 584 of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, director of the Merrill Chamber, and a member of the Jaycees. Wildes has been returned to his native Tomah where a service was held yesterday; he was buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery.
Issues with water are causing concerns throughout the city, as daytime heat is leading to thawing but nighttime freezing temperatures are wreaking havoc on our water mains. City Engineer Charles Pierotti explained that one of the biggest problem areas is where water mains were replaced in 1970, as soil in that area has a different moisture content or has not compacted properly yet to keep the frost out. Residents can see a reduction in their water bill if they call the Water Department and explain their need to run water to prevent pipes freezing up.
At the annual banquet of the Merrill Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Richard Holt and Chamber President Dieter Nickel both spoke of the current state of business and industry in Merrill and their desire to see the tax base expand. Nickel spoke of the current national economic slump, which is causing double digit unemployment and high inflation. He noted Merrill currently has 400 healthy businesses, with many of them planning to expand or remodel this year. Nickel told of how the Chamber has 180 members and continues to grow and only 13 empty storefronts can be found in the entire city. Mayor Richard Holt laid out his thoughts on the future of Merrill to expand growth. They included making Hwy. 64 a four-lane highway from end to end of town and including rebuilding both Sixth Ward bridges, making parking free downtown between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, increasing ridership on the Merrill Go Round with two new buses on the way, and providing incentives to businesses who hire 16- to 25-year-olds which is the highest unemployed group in the area. He also spoke of continuing to hold off on but exploring a shopping center on the far east side of town and developing uniform store hours. At the end of the speeches, the chairman of the retail council, Wayne Marrier, called to study further advertising of shopping in Merrill.
Residents of the Lincoln County Jail are eating very well this week as the kitchen is transferring equipment from the old jail to the new safety building. Cook-matron Glorian Klempke is overseeing the transfer but is not able to cook during this time. Chief Deputy Harvey Woodward confirms the meals this week are being catered from Galella’s Cork and Dyne until the move is complete. Woodward stated the prisoners are receiving the same meals the senior citizens center does as part of a contract with the nutrition program. During an open house on Sunday, 3,500 people toured the new building; prisoners were moved in on Monday.
A man jailed here 10 years ago now stands accused of a double murder in Manitowoc County. The local incident started in November of 1971 when police radio signals in the county were disrupted sending deputies to check the transmitter tower on Lookout Mountain off of Hwy. B in the Town of Harrison. When they arrived, they found the tower had been toppled over after then 29-year-old Charles Wilda removed about 90 heavy duty bolts holding the tower down. Wilda was still present when law enforcement arrived and was arrested and brought to the county jail. There he purposely clogged a drain in his cell, and when now retired Deputy LeRoy Degner came to help, Wilda assaulted him and stole his gun. Wilda tried to shoot out the dispatch radio before leaving the jail, but Degner was able to recover and transmit a call for help. Merrill Police, led by Sgt. Don Trantow, arrested Wilda about an hour later driving a stolen truck. Wilda now stands accused of murdering his elderly parents in their Whitelaw home. Deputies there went to check on the couple and found them dead of gunshot wounds. When convicted locally after the 1971 incident, Wilda was sent to the Central State Hospital.
Principal Lanny Tibaldo wants his bird back. Tibaldo made a theft report with Merrill Police late last week after the steel Bluejay that sits on the large sign out in front of the high school flew off. Tibaldo estimates the bird is worth $150.
The Merrill BOE announced on Tuesday that they have chosen Ralph Neale, superintendent of Westfield, to head the district. Neale was chosen from a field of candidates and will start on April 1. He will draw a starting salary of $69,000.
The Town of Russell is organizing a first responder group, but they are having trouble finding someone who will dispatch them. A group of 20 people are taking a class to help them deliver care prior to the arrival of the Merrill Ambulance. Originally, the county law enforcement committee agreed to have the sheriff’s office page the group, but that proposal was tabled until County Corp Counsel Nancy Bergstrom can work up language to clarify that they are not responsible for the group, nor are they a branch of Lincoln County government.