The City of Merrill will begin service of its new public transportation this Friday when “Dial A Bus” begins service to the city. The bus will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will transport handicapped and persons 55 years and older. Mayor Ralph Voigt is pictured on the front page with Mrs. Delores Kelly who is the coordinator for the new service. The first bus driver is Dan Caylor, but other potential drivers are currently taking written and behind the wheel tests.
“I will fight him to the bitter end” is the vow that State Senator Clifford Krueger has made after Governor Patrick Lucey indicated he might close the Lincoln Hills Boy School as a part of the next budget. Krueger explained with the current budget it should not come as a shock that correctional institutes might be closed, but with the large service area and outstanding job that LBS does rehabilitating juveniles Krueger will not support any plans to close the institute.
In local politics, Judge Don Schnabel will run unopposed in April for Lincoln County Judge. Schnabel was appointed by the governor in 1955 to finish the unexpired term of Judge Max Van Hecke, and has been elected three times since then. Schnabel is a Wisconsin Rapids High School grad and lives on 6th Street in Merrill. The list of candidates vying for the Merrill School Board is much larger as eight people have submitted papers to run for the three open seats. Incumbents Darrell Hulke and Les Voigt will face off against challengers Carolyn Boucher, Arlan Moyer, Vivian Borchardt, Harriet Woller, Harry Nelson, and Donald Ledger.
Don Kerr’s basketball team is starting to make believers out of the local faithful as they continue on their winning ways. The boys knocked off Rhinelander, and D. C. Everest in a game which was well attended by Blue Jay supporters. The Jays were once again strong on defense and have swatted away 84 enemy shots this season, with Merrill’s 6’9″ center Dave VanDerGeest knocking down 54 of those. Norris Hattlestad’s wrestlers are still rolling along as they are 11-1 in dual meet competition. Local winners at the Merrill Invitational this past week included Todd Mann, Scott VanDerGeest, Mark Richardson, and Mike Londerville who was recently selected as the state’s best 98 pounder in this month’s issue of Crossface Magazine.
Merrill Police have been busy with numerous arrests this past week. Three men were taken into custody on drug charges after raids at a Merrill apartment and a Sixth Ward tavern. Two of the men were arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver while a third was arrested for delivery of a controlled substance. Those three men are in the Lincoln County Jail. Three 17 year olds and a 19 year were arrested for recent burglaries and thefts in Merrill. The incidents took place at two Merrill homes, a Merrill business, and five lockers at the high school. And finally, an 18 year old Merrill man was taken into custody after police found him in the office at St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ at 5:40 a.m. Saturday. That man was taken to the health care center for treatment of intoxication.
“Hey Tiny, you live here?” Was the question posed in 1936 which changed the course of the life of a 17 year old Merrill man who would go on to become one of the most influential politicians in Madison. Clifford “Tiny” Krueger was running to the circus in an area of the city known as Tannery Town when a circus worker spotted the 400 pound youth and asked him if he would be interested in traveling with the Siels-Sterling Circus as their fat boy. A four page tribute of photographs and a story by Sharon Thatcher explains the young man’s transformation from shy Sixth warder to multi term state senator as the community marks his retirement from politics. Krueger stated he has no regrets about his sudden retirement and looks forward to spending time with his wife Floriene, children, and grandchildren.
Bargains fill the pages of this week’s paper as many Merrill businesses are offering winter sales. Spurgeon’s is offering men’s jeans starting at $19.95; The Drapery Den has 20% off all fabrics and 40% off all blinds; Auto Stop in the Sixth Ward has Budweiser products for $6.59 a twelve pack along with the new Crystal Pepsi in stock; Campbell’s Clothing is holding a warehouse sale out of the old Wanless TV building at 900 E 1st St, and the Merrill Golf Course is offering a 10% discount for membership if paid by March 1, the cost for a single for the season is $595.
In sports the Blue Jay wrestling team lost their own invitational on Saturday losing to Athens by ten points. The Jays took on Athens back in December but the team to the south outmatched the Jays with pins, and repeated the performance on Saturday. In boys’ basketball the Jays lost tough Valley games, to Wisconsin Rapids on Tuesday and Marshfield on Friday. In other sports news, Merrill Area Catholic Schools announced the second annual Robert J. Hartkopf Memorial basketball tournament will be held this weekend at the St. Francis gym.