Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor, Jr.
Telephone service is still operating normally here despite a strike by operators of Bell Telephone. Local phone service is provided by GTE; however, a main switchboard at Rhinelander is staffed by Bell staff. Instead of the normal 35-40 operators,20 people, mostly men, staff that center currently, and most are supervisors.
The Merrill Chamber has initiated a plan to have a group of ambassadors. Mrs. Herman Krueger has been tasked with organizing the crew who will greet visitors and dignitaries and assist at open houses and dedications. The group would also like to erect a billboard out on the highway welcoming travelers. Chamber manager H. J. Evers was also asked to plan what hopefully will become an annual Chamber banquet held in October.
The battle between Sheriff Alfred Giese and Chief Deputy Harvey Woodward continues, with Woodward now being suspended after Giese filed a complaint with the Law Enforcement Committee. A hearing on the matter will be set for July 27, and Woodward will still be paid pending the outcome. Giese tried to fire Woodward two months ago, but the Committee told the Sheriff he does not have the sole authority to dismiss Deputies under the civil service ordinance. Woodward became the first Chief Deputy in the County after the Board abolished the position of Undersheriff in 1969. Previously Woodward was a Supervisor and 20-year veteran of the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office and former traffic patrol.
Property owners and members of the business community are reminded of a meeting next Tuesday in City Hall to discuss the future of East Main Street in Merrill. Above ground, the crumbling sidewalk and pavement is evident to anyone driving or walking through, but City officials say what lies under the roadway may be the costly part of the project and may add considerable time to the project.
Chief Deputy Harvey Woodward (spoiler alert, he is still there) has an idea that may save taxpayers thousands. One squad car has been converted to run on both standard unleaded gasoline and liquid petroleum gas, or LP. Deputy Bob Lee took the first test run with an LP-fueled squad car last week and noted no difference in speed or acceleration as he switched between the two products while traveling down the highway. Woodward thinks his County may be the first in the state to try the LP-fueled squads; he is hoping for savings of up to $15 per day; currently gas is running at about $1.24 per gallon, while LP is at .80 a gallon. (That comes out to about $5,500 per year or $16,000 in today’s money.)
After 150,000 miles and 1,900 students, driver’s education teacher Bert Knott is hanging up the keys on his career at Merrill High. Knott, 62 has led the program since it first began in Merrill in 1962, the first year the state mandated both classroom and behind-the-wheel training. Over the years, the student population increased, so Knott went from a one-man operation to a staff of five, most of whom provide instructions over the busy summer months. With retirement at hand, Knott worries about the future of the program as the legislature has threatened to cut or reduce funding. Local car dealers have always provided cars for students for free; however, now they charge a small fee. Increased costs have also come from rising gasoline prices which has gone from 35 cents to $1.30 a gallon since Knott began instructing. (Hold your hat at the price now, Bert.) Knott figures the schools will either pass along the costs to the students or just drop the program altogether. As he drives off into the sunset, Knott is proud of the fact that no students were ever injured in a driving accident under his watch.
The second annual Central Wisconsin Riverfest will have to wait for now. Jeff Peterson, organizer and chairman of the event, which is sponsored by the Jaycees, said his organization felt it was best to cancel the event rather than hold it without its main attraction, the racing boats. The club which brings in the boats has a conflict this year due to a national race being held the same weekend. Everyone involved hopes to bring back the events next year.
After a meeting with the Central Labor Council and local clergyman this past week, it appears as if the Lord came out on top in the debate for the start time for the Merrill Labor Day parade. Historically, the parade has always kicked off at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, but area pastors have complained that time sharply reduces the amount of people who attend services on the Sabbath. In a meeting with parade organizer Ron Kautz, the group expressed their concerns, as did Kautz as he works around other area parades who often share traveling bands and bugle corps. In the end, Kautz agreed the Merrill parade will now start Sunday at 2:00 p.m. (Eventually it appears Kautz and the Lord agreed Monday was even better.)
The Lincoln County 4H Free Fair gets underway today at the fairgrounds. Calkins Amusements will be providing the midway rides, while a host of entertainment will be found in front of the grandstand. On Friday, Randy Thompson will perform, as will the truck and tractor pulls; Saturday is the band Three Dog Night; and on Sunday the demo derbies will make their return. Do not forget the Merrill City Band plays on Thursday right after the market animal show.