Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor, Jr.
Overcrowding at MAPS buildings may be eased, thanks to an offer from St. Francis Church. The church and MAPS have been in discussion for months for a potential purchase of either the W. 10th Street buildings or the property known as St. Robert’s on E. 10th St., however, an agreeable price seems to be the question. Father Peter Szleszinski has proposed to the Board that they rent the St. Francis facility in order to use the classrooms for an immediate relief to overcrowding. The Board verbally agreed to continue to study the lease for the now idle school.
Authorities reported a quiet Memorial Day holiday; an officer from the Police Department manually operated the stoplights on Center Ave. from noon until midnight on Friday to try to keep traffic moving steadily. One motorist reported traffic backed up and stopped as far as seven miles south of the city at one point Friday, causing a commute of 45 minutes from the north side of Wausau to Merrill. Firemen made a couple of runs over the weekend, but not for any serious calls; the oven at Club Modern caught fire on Sunday afternoon but was out upon arrival of firemen.
The Merrill Veterans Council made the best of Memorial Day after an early morning discovery showed miscreants wrecked or stole flags off buried servicemen and women and also stripped the flag poles at the cemetery and American Legion Hall. The Rev. Larry Bremer of St. Stephen’s UCC used the acts to tell those assembled in the dreary rain that dissent is expected but must be orderly. “America can be loved and it is loved by many who seek change,” he said. The Merrill City Band opened the program, while the World War I veterans recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Jack Ament will return to Merrill and intern this summer under DA James T. Rogers. Ament, the son of Attorney Jacob Ament, will be paid for the 12-week assignment as part of an agreement between Marquette University and the federal Omnibus Crime Control Act. Ament graduated from Merrill High School (MHS) in 1965 and from UW Stevens Point in 1970. He just completed his first year at Marquette and is one of 11 students assigned this summer to DA’s offices.
A man whose name is synonymous with the Lincoln County Fair has died. Ted Lokemoen died last week at Pine Crest Nursing Home. Lokemoen was the former Clerk of Courts in Lincoln County, a professional musician, Chamber of Commerce Secretary, and a salesman. Lokemoen was probably best known for his 45 years of service on the Lincoln County 4H Leaders Association Board, where he served for many years as the Secretary and Manager of the annual 4H Free Fair. He retired from that Board in 1978. He also served as Superintendent of the Rabbit Show at the Wisconsin State Fair for many years, served as a judge, and assisted at many fairs throughout the state. A professional musician in the 1920’s and 40’s, he later served as master of ceremonies for many local programs. He was Clerk of Courts from 1941-1944, and then worked as a salesman for the former Lincoln Textiles, Merrill Woolen Mill, and Weinbrenner Shoe Company. Funeral services were held this past Saturday, and burial took place at St. Francis Cemetery. (In case anyone ever wondered why the rabbit building at the fairgrounds is named the Lokemoen building.)
The former owner of the Anson & Gilkey Company in Merrill was acquitted by a federal jury on charges that he arranged to have the idle factory burned down. Charles R. Conant, 47, an Oconomowoc attorney, was the only defendant to testify on his behalf in the trial, which has been taking place in Madison. He said he did provide cash to Fred Welchman of Irvine, Calif., but the purpose was for Welchman to drum up additional investors to help restart his ailing company. Conant’s attorney, Gerald Boyle of Milwaukee, told the jury it is likely Welchman arranged to have the factory burned as he came up short of investors he had been paid to find. Five other men have all been found guilty or pled guilty to charges in the case, including Daniel Schlacks of Hoffman Estates, Ill., and Frank Briggs of Chicago, who stood trial with Conant. The investigation began after Merrill Police Officers Rick Hermsen and Lt. Dennis Hintze interrupted the attempt at burning the factory down. Special Agent Tom Burg led the local investigation team. (Well, Tom, was he guilty?)
The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors has approved a request from Stuart Smith of Merrill to rezone a 38-acre piece of land in the Town of Scott in order to house Smith’s wood chipping operation. Smith said he will move his chipping factory from 301 N. Foster St. to the property on South State St. Smith said he currently has 35,000 cords of wood now, purchased at a cost of $1.3 million, with over 500 people currently working to supply his factory with additional wood to be chipped. Forty percent of the wood supplied comes from within a 20-mile radius of Merrill, according to Smith.
Nancy Stevens, Chair of the Russell First Responders, reports that her group is ready to respond in case of an emergency. The group, which counts about 20 people as members, suffered a setback as local agencies decided who would dispatch them. The County Board voted this past Tuesday to endorse a plan from the Law Enforcement Committee directing the Sheriff to alert the group to any emergency. In the past, the County had tried to stay away from the paging for fear of liability. The program will respond to calls in the Town of Russell, Schley, Birch, and the Langlade County Towns of Parrish and Summit. All of the members have completed the 46-hour required training; however, some are still waiting for equipment.