The Merrill Police and Fire Commission has chosen Officer Charles H. Johnson, Jr., age 36, to be the next Chief of Police. Current chief Gerald F. Plautz has announced plans to retire in 1974. Plautz was named acting chief in 1962 and assumed the position on Jan. 1, 1963. Johnson who joined the force on July 1, 1960 will now undergo extensive training to prepare him for the job, including attending a police management school at Northwestern University. Johnson will also undergo extensive inter-departmental briefings to be conducted by Chief Plautz, Captain Leslie Kienitz and Lt. Harry Maurisak. Johnson was one of eight internal applicants for the job. Secretary of the Police and Fire Commission Dieter H. Nickel announced also that Daniel M. Caylor, age 24, of Genesee Street, Merrill, has been selected to fill the spot of the retiring Officer Elmer “Madam” Kleinschmidt. Caylor will undergo recruit training starting in March.
The energy crisis was the focus of a meeting held Tuesday evening in the Mayor’s Office. Mayor Ralph “Fata” Voigt appointed the committee to deal with the looming energy crisis facing the nation. In order to follow new federal guidelines, Christmas lighting, store display lighting, and store temperature guidelines were all recommended for area businesses. As a result, holiday lighting will only occur between Dec. 17 and Dec. 26. Fire Chief Ray Priebe also warned the committee of unsafe practices some citizens have been doing, including storing gasoline in unsafe containers in area such as basements of homes.
George Gilkey has a letter to the editor in which he laments the future destruction of the home at 711 E. 1st St. The city bought two homes in the 700 block of E. 1st St. recently to be razed and used as parking lots (now Jenny Towers). Gilkey writes the home at 711 was known as the Harrison Combs mansion and was built around 1871. Combs was a partner in the Combs & Andrews Sawmill which was known as the Andrew Warren Mill and became the T. B. Scott Lumber company in 1880. In the 1890s it was the residence of Baron Rudolph Van Kaltenborn and family, parents of H. V. Klatenborn. (Google that name to learn of another famous son of Merrill.) In the early 1900s the home was the residence of William G. Smith, who was the owner of a saloon, liquor store and cigar store at 312 E. 2nd St. in Merrill.
Tragedy marred this year’s hunting season as four people died in a camper fire north and west of Merrill. An out of state hunter saw the fire and reported it to the Tomahawk Police Department at about 6:10 a.m. Wednesday. When authorities arrived they discovered the bodies of 66 year old Robert Lewis of Schofield, his son 29 year old Jeffrey Lewis of Wausau, grandsons Scott Helms age 17 of Merrill and Richard Chamberlain age 15 of Mosinee. The fire is believed to have been caused by an LP heater in the 14 foot metal trailer which was in ruins by the time firefighters arrived. It is speculated that all of the victims died from smoke inhalation, one of the victim’s wristwatch stopped at 5:50 a.m.
The four deaths in Newwood were just part of the news items in this week’s paper. A fire at a home near Gleason destroyed the Gustin family residence; a Tomahawk woman died after injuries suffered in a crash on US Hwy 51 Monday night; a hunter shooting at a deer put a bullet through a trailer home in Gleason coming six feet from the owner; a Merrill farmer was shot at while riding his tractor near Highland Ave and Corning Rd; and a Tomahawk man was listed in stable condition at a hospital in Rhinelander after he was shot during a deer drive in Forest County.
The Merrill Evening Lion’s Club has elected officers for the 1993-1994 year. Ed Slewitzke is the current president, ably assisted by Glen Strozewski as first vice president, Dave Haskins as second VP, Jim Bares is serving as third VP. Recording secretary is Ira Rebella, and George Wanless will serve as financial secretary, Marv Uttech will serve as treasurer. John Roberts will serve as tail twister and Jim Damrau takes over the lion tamer duties. Don Hostvedt is the new membership chair, Dennis Knott will serve as Pride editor. Directors for the group are Ron Kautz, Bob Roe, Jay Leland, Gene Block, Gene Simon, and Duane Luedke.
Despite trailing at halftime the Merrill Blue Jay girls’ basketball team roared back and pounced on the Marshfield Tigers this past Tuesday. The Jays trailed 9-2 at the end of the first quarter but had pulled to within 19-16 by halftime. Jamie Pfaff scored six of Merrill’s nine points in the first three minutes of the third quarter, and the girls went on a 9-2 run with just seconds left in the game before claiming their 44-31 victory. Coach Bob Yuska credited the team work of Renee Ashbeck and Nikki Thompson on defense as a key to the victory.