Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor, Jr.
A 20-year-old Merrill man is in the Lincoln County Jail after getting into a gun battle with law enforcement this past weekend at his Town of Merrill home early Sunday morning. The incident started when Deputy Paul Proulx and Special Deputy Francis Coenen responded to a report of a stalled car on a town road at 3:30 a.m. When they arrived, they found the intoxicated 20-year-old and brought him to his home, turning him over to his mother. A few minutes after Proulx and Coenen left, the man’s mother phoned the Sheriff’s Office and reported the man was getting out of control, prompting Proulx and Coenen to return. When Proulx arrived, he was greeted with four blasts from a shotgun. Calls for help went out, bringing about a dozen Sheriff’s Deputies, Merrill Police Officers, and an ambulance, after initial reports indicated Proulx had been shot. Over the next hour and a half, nearly 30 shots were fired from the home and by law enforcement members, trying to keep the gunman confined to the home. Eventually tear gas, brought to the scene by Merrill Police, was fired into the home, causing the gunman to surrender. After the arrest, Sheriff Al Giese said the tear gas is likely what saved the young man’s life. District Attorney James T. Rogers charged the man with endangering the safety of others by conduct regardless of human life; Judge Ronald Keberle remanded him to the jail on a $2,500 bond to await the return of vacationing Judge Schnabel. (Back in those days, those guys had a lot more close calls then their wives ever knew about.)
City Engineer Charles Pierotti admits he has an odor problem, but he is hoping a new perfume like substance can help solve it. Pierotti and city residents near the center of town began smelling the foul odor a few months ago, an odor that only worsened as time went on. Pierotti believes the odor is the result of the 600,000 gallons a day of treated effluent discharged each day by the Ward Paper Mill into the sewer system. The company added a deodorant in hopes of eliminating the smell, but that did not cure it, prompting them to turn to the new perfume-like substance. Pierotti asked residents who live near the mill and then south on Mill St. to keep track of when the odor is the heaviest so the chemical introduction can be adjusted during peak hours.
The Lincoln County Board voted yesterday to decline an offer from the City to lease office space in the old vocational school on West Main Street. The city had unofficially offered to remodel the building and lease it to the County this past winter. Supervisor Patrick Nugent, Chair of the Special Building Committee, said the group is no longer considering purchasing the former Alft Garage and Monroe Motors across from the Courthouse building. The group decided to continue to study space needs. The City of Merrill Common Council also met last night; that group is looking to set standards for park closing hours. Parks Director Andy Olivotti explained the ordinance requires parks close by midnight, but any beer drinking must stop at 11:00 p.m. This draws conflicts when ball tournaments sometimes last into the wee hours.
Could the City of Merrill eliminate primary elections? That is one thought the Council is looking at to save funds. Various officials in the valley are studying the idea, but so far no endorsement has come forward. Mayor Richard Holt pointed out that quite often a spring primary has only one contest, weather is often poor, voter turnout is scant, and quite often, little is known about primary candidates for voters to make informed decisions. Holt and other officials would like to see one spring election, with a run off being held if the top vote getter does not get at least 50% of the vote. In Wausau, Mayor John Kannenberg said if it wasn’t for the primary, he wouldn’t be mayor. Kannenberg came in second in the primary election when he first ran for mayor in 1964, and his opponent had more than 50% of the vote. However, with just the two men left on the ticket come the spring election, he won.
Consumers have spoken, and for the most part they enjoy the hours kept by our downtown merchants. On average, every downtown store in Merrill is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, and closed on Sunday. Some merchants who are noting a decline in business on Fridays would like to see Thursday as the late night shopping night. However, those who responded to the survey said they prefer to keep Friday as having the longest hours with over 70% saying 9:00 p.m. was a better closing time than 8:00 p.m. If merchants were to choose to stay open late on a second night per week, most consumers who responded asked that the night be on Monday.
This past Thursday, 298 seniors of Merrill Senior High School walked across the stage in the new Field House, for the first and last time, as they graduated from the newly expanded building. Class President Matthew Janowiak presented the class, along with their gift to the school, a large wooden Bluejay emblem, which will hang in the Field House. Janowiak seemed stunned when it was announced he had been selected for the Anson Scholarship, while classmate Stephen Slewitzke received the O’Reilly Scholarship. Dr. Thomas Strick announced an estimated $195,000 in scholarships for the class. (This year there were 183 graduates; however, the scholarship total was much higher.)
The first Merrill Jail has been demolished, although most would not have known what it was. The original jail was located in what became a garage in the 1400 block of E. Main St. (mBank lot now). It was believed to have first been used as a jail in the 1870’s. The walls of the structure were 8” thick with a 5” square nail pounded every few inches to discourage escape. One window still held 19 iron bars, which were salvaged by Lt. Mike Caylor of the Police Department who watched the demo while off duty.