Merrill area voters will have a full slate of decisions on the ballet next week during the spring election. A slate of nine candidates will contend for three seats on the school board including one open seat. Incumbents Darrell Hulke and Lester Voigt will face off against Kurt Bartz, Vivian Borchardt, Carolyn Boucher, Donald Ledger, Arlan Moyer, Harry Nelson and Harriet Woller. The referendum on whether to build the new Jefferson School at a cost of $550,000 will appear for a third time for voters. Endorsements for the project in this week’s paper include a letter from Mayor Ralph Voigt and an ad paid for by Jefferson Parents Committee Chairman Eugene Bondioli. Also on the ballot is a state wide referendum on whether the state constitution should be amended to allow bingo games to be held by religious, charitable, service, fraternal or veterans’ organizations.
University of Wisconsin’s Athletic Director Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch was in Merrill Tuesday night to address the county chapter of the UW Alumni Association. At that meeting it was announced that Merrill Mayor Ralph “Fata” Voigt will take over as president of the national UW Alumni Association. In his remarks at the dinner held at Dick’s Riverside Club, Hirsch noted the dire conditions of the UW’s athletic budget. Hirsch noted it would take football crowds between 62-64,000 fans next year for the entire athletic budget to break even. No taxpayer money or student fees are used to fund the athletic department, instead the money comes from ticket sales for football, basketball, hockey and track. Television helped out last year by generating $245,000 but the entire budget for the programs is $2 million. (The latest figures show modern operating budgets and revenue both exceed $80 million dollars)
Weather permitting the Merrill Golf Club will open for play this Thursday at noon. The locker room and clubhouse will remain closed.
Three major races will be on the spring ballot next Tuesday. The largest race is the district 12 Senate seat which was vacated by Clifford Krueger. Fighting for that seat are Sheehan Donoghue, a Republican from Merrill, and Lloyd Kincaid, a Democrat from Crandon. Both are currently representing their respective districts in the State Assembly. On the local scene Judith Stockowitz is being challenged by Lynn Henrich for the City Clerk’s job. Stockowitz was appointed to the position after the death of longtime City Clerk Robert Klug last summer. And on the school board, Incumbents Patricia Weber, Rev. Dan Olson and Thomas Sazama are being challenged by former board member Vivian Borchardt and newcomer Edith Gross.
Police Chief Charles Johnson and Fitness Force owner Paul Kienitz have devised a unique program to encourage physical fitness among the 19 officers on the Merrill Police force. The idea started as a way to test probationary officers, but Johnson found himself working out with the younger officers. Johnson noted despite being 46 years old he did quite well in the testing and hopes more officers join in the program. Pictured are Kienitz along with Officers Rick Hermsen and Brian Sladek.
Two promotions at the DNR will bring a new head of Council Grounds State Park. Mike Willman of Prairie du Chien has been named the new director as of Monday. He plans on moving to Merrill with his wife Sarah and three sons. Willman started working for the DNR In 1969 first at Point Beach State Forest in Two Rivers. He was later served at Pattison State Park in Superior and Wyalusing State Park in Bagley. Willman will replace Dave Jackson who has managed the park for the last eight months; he has been promoted to Forest Ranger in charge of fire operations at Merrill. Jackson began his career with the DNR 25 years ago after receiving his bachelor’s degree in forestry from UW Stevens Point.
Lincoln County Chief Deputy Robert Lee reports that $35,000 per year will be saved if the county would hire three new deputies. The County Board approved the three new positions at their monthly meeting last week. In past years the overtime for the agency swelled to over $116,000 and Lee and former Sheriff Ron Krueger agreed the cause for the overtime was understaffing. Current Sheriff Harvey Woodward developed a new shift system of three fixed shifts as compared to the previous four swing shifts. Union president Tom Koth is quoted in the article noting the union’s approval of the new shift system and notes the workers are eager to cooperate with the changes.
In other county board action the time for their monthly meetings was addressed at their recent meeting. Supervisor Bob Nedden has been pursuing a change from the 10 a.m. meeting time to an evening schedule. Nedden argues with an evening meeting time more citizens would become involved and new people could be attracted to run for the board. Board Chair Bob Sumnicht on the other hand stated that evening hours had been tried in the past and attendance was not larger and nine new supervisors were seated in the last election despite the morning meeting time. Currently of the 22 supervisors 15 are retired, 3 are self-employed and 4 work full time for an employer.
A new scholarship will be available for MHS graduates thanks to a substantial bequest from the estate of a Merrill couple. The Herbert and Elizabeth Guenzl Scholarship Fund will provide a scholarship to UW Madison yearly. The Guenzls met while students at the UW Madison campus; he was a law student and she was taking education courses. They married in 1935 and moved to Merrill where Herb served as the district attorney for one term. Following service in the Navy during WWII Herbert founded the Tiny Tot Manufacturing Company which he headed until 1975. Afterward he was associated with the Nienow, Guenzl, and Nienow law firm until his death in 1981. Mrs. Guenzl passed away in 1991.