Hanging flower baskets beautify Merrill for the summer

Local business owners donate $1,000 to help fund the flowers


Full blooming baskets will soon grace many of the light poles in Merrill, all funded by community donations. Helene Ader photo.

On Wednesday, June 2, Randy Jaeger, flower grower from Avalon Farms in Marathon, delivered dozens of hanging flower baskets filled with wave petunias to the parking lot across from the Lincoln County Courthouse. Area volunteers/members of the Merrill “Hanging Flower Basket Committee” went to work attaching the chains by which the baskets hang, led by Committee Chairperson Helene Ader. Then it was on to the business of hanging the baskets, which was accomplished with the help of the Merrill Street Department crew. Marcus Reinhardt was in the basket, and Kody Gipple was operating the loader, that enabled the pair to go from pole to pole hanging the flower baskets throughout the city’s main business districts.
To help the project continue beautifying Merrill, local business owners, Darrel and Missy Dengel, owners of Woodland Court, made a $1,000 donation to the Hanging Flower Basket Project.
The baskets make the community look more appealing and more cared for. “This is a tradition that I hope our community will continue,” Ader said. She has been chairing the Hanging Flower Basket Committee since it was formed.
“Right from the beginning, it was a community effort,” she said. At that time, Jane Savaske from the Chamber, then Mayor Doug Williams, and then Street Commissioner Ralph Sturm all took an active role.
“There are currently six members on the Committee,” Ader said, “some of whom have been involved from the beginning. Previously, there had been eight members of the Committee.” They could use a few new members, she added.
They have a system that works well, she said, but as the volunteers move out of active involvement, they will need new hands and faces.
Anyone interested in becoming a part of the Hanging Flower Basket Committee can contact Ader at 715.536.7391.
In addition to volunteers, beautifying the City with hanging flower baskets also takes money. “It’s all supported by individual donors,” Ader said. She estimates it costs almost $10,000 a year. In addition to the cost of the actual flower baskets [100 or more baskets are hung each year], the Hanging Flower Basket Committee pays for the water [.25 per 100 gallons of water], fertilizer, and an employee to water the flowers on the weekend. The City waters flowers Monday-Friday. Those employees also water all of the Park City Gardens flower beds, such as those on the roundabout and in the retaining wall on Main Street. It takes almost six hours each day just to water all of the hanging baskets, Ader said. And they usually go into September.

Helene Ader photo.

The community has been really supportive of the project over the years, Ader said. “We really did have the community behind us.” She enumerated local organizations and businesses that donated for many of the start-up costs or provided services in kind: Rotary Club, Eagles Club, One Way Collision, the Merrill Street Department, and that’s just to name a few.
The Chamber is also very helpful, Ader said. “They do our mailings and keep track of our donations. This year they sent a letter to everyone on the Chamber of Commerce list and we have gotten so many new contributors, we can’t believe it!”
That’s good news, because overall, time and COVID have impacted their fundraising, just as they have affected other organizations. “We used to have 120 donors,” Ader said. “But the last few years, it’s been more like 100; last year it was more like 80, so it was down quite a bit.”
“Serving on this committee has provided a great deal of satisfaction and hopefully has added to pride in the Merrill community,” Ader said. “And it’s our hope that the tradition continues. It is very satisfying that it’s very important to the community. To have the number of donors that year after year faithfully donate, that’s important. You can definitely get satisfaction out of helping beautify the city.”

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