Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
A 30-year-old Merrill man is in the Lincoln County Jail on a $50,000 cash bond after being charged with first degree murder this past Monday evening. Wayne L. Smith of 120 S. Mill St. was arrested Sunday evening by Chief Gerald Plautz and other investigators and officers at his Lincoln House apartment; he offered no resistance. This was all in the wake of the discovery of the body of Hye Son Hanke, a 24-year-old Wausau woman who was found murdered early Friday morning in a driveway in the 200 block of Hendricks Street. Hanke was employed for a total of four days as a waitress at the new restaurant, the “House of Hibachi” – also in the Lincoln House – before she was murdered. Smith is a former resident of Rochester, MN and is employed as a millwright/mechanic and traveled the state of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa spending Thursday through Sunday at his Lincoln House apartment. Police were well aware of the similarities between the Hanke murder and the murder of Katherine Schmidt, which occurred on the morning of July 14, 1973 in her apartment on E. 2nd St., but at this time Smith has not been formally charged with that murder.
The Merrill City Council dealt with some ordinances but also some personal issues this past Tuesday. A request from employees at city hall to work all day on Dec. 31 and have off on Dec. 24 was denied. Currently city hall employees work half a day on each of those days. The police unions attempt at increasing their wage was also denied. They lowered their request from 8% to 7.5 but according the Alderman English the city is standing firm at a 6.9% raise as that is what was budgeted.
Santa Claus will be in his little red house at several spots in town over this next week. He will be at the Cenotaph tonight, in the parking lot of Golde’s Bar on Friday and in the M&I parking lot Saturday. Santa will also appear at the annual children’s Christmas party at the Cosmo this Saturday. M&I Bank and the Optimists are sponsoring the party which includes three Walt Disney cartoons, games for the children, the feature film of Abbot and Costello “Dance with me Henry” and a treat for the children. (Who remembers when Sophie used to bring out the wooden drawers? They drew four ticket stubs and if yours was one of the lucky ones you got to pick a drawer and hopefully get candy not snakes. My sister still holds onto her ticket stub no matter where she goes in case Sophie comes around with her red four-sided box with the blue drawers).
Two men arrested in Ohio on burglary charges are suspects in several major clothing store burglaries committed in Wisconsin, including two here in Merrill. FBI agents arrested the two men after a burglary of a clothing store in Parkersburg, WV and caught the pair with $100,000 worth of clothing including 400 men’s suits. A spokesperson for the FBI admits that there is nothing to link the pair directly to the Wisconsin burglaries but confirmed the methods of operation as compared to the West Virginia heist was identical. One of the suspects is on probation after being caught in Watertown, WI attempting a burglary. Thefts in Wisconsin include stores in Marshfield, Appleton, Tomah, La Crosse, Wausau, Beloit, Janesville, Stevens Point, Thelma’s in Merrill on Dec. 5, 1982 and the Guy’s Shop in Merrill on Jan. 16.
A half page article on page 18 written by Myrtle Natzke tells the story of Kate Hamilton Pier. Born in Vermont in 1885 as Kate Hamilton, she became one of the largest land barons in northern Wisconsin, holding thousands of acres in Lincoln, Langlade, and Oneida County and beyond. Kate Hamilton met and later married Colwert Kendall-Pier after he returned from service after the Civil War. A lawyer by trade, Colwert set up a law office in Fond du Lac and there they raised three daughters. When the oldest daughter decided she wanted to go to law school in Madison both Kate and Colwert were worried about their daughter living there alone. So Mother Kate went to Madison too and attended law school with her daughter. Soon the other two daughters also went to law school in Madison, and of the first eight female lawyers in Wisconsin, four of them were from the Hamilton-Pier family. Besides the vast land holdings in Lincoln County, the Piers were also investors in the Merrill Boom Company along with T. B. Scott and S. S. Merrill and others. Kate’s biggest success in the courts was taking on logging barons who threatened small and large land owners alike. The story mentions Pier Street but it is not known if the street is named after Kate or her husband Colwert, but she clearly was one of Merrill’s strong pioneer women.
The girls’ basketball team enjoyed two more victories as they stretched their win streak to five. The Jays defeated Wausau East 78-56 on Friday and beat Marshfield 64-60 on Saturday. The girls have a tougher Valley foe coming up in Stevens Point. They only have one loss on the season and are led by All-Valley guard Deb Steward. The boys’ team has not been as lucky, losing two games last week including a 75-34 loss to Wausau East that coach Bob Wojtusik called the “worst loss I’ve ever faced.”
It took a dozen men to do it, but for the first time in nearly a dozen years the Courthouse rotunda has a 30-foot balsam filling it. The first choice of a tree was a smaller tree as has become the tradition, but it broke while being loaded onto the truck due to the cold weather. Bill Wengeler, the County Forester, knows where the biggest trees are, so to Chat the crew went where the county’s largest truck was used to haul in the balsam fir. Wengeler noted there were still enough old timers around who remember how to get a tree that large into the rotunda. The dozen men slid the truck through the north entry doors, they blocked the trunk in the south entrance and three guys with ropes pulled the tree up into position while a ground rope pulled the trunk back to the north. Food pantry donations will soon find their place under the tree as the county employees give back for the holiday.
A dispute between the board of education and the Merrill teachers’ union resulted in picketing at last Wednesday’s BOE meeting and a statement from the board regarding contract negotiations. The two sides are at a stalemate that seems centered around insurance, although some of the signs being held during the picketing noted their dislike for Governor Thompson. The two sides will meet again Dec. 22.
Governor Thompson’s picture can be found on page five as he awards Jason Schulz of Merrill the Governor’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Award at the Governor’s Mansion in Madison. Schulz rebuilds bicycles from old bikes and gives the new bikes to the Merrill Fire Department’s Toys for Tots Christmas Gift Program. DNR Secretary George E. Meyer looks on as Schulz receives his medal from the Governor. On page eight you will see fireman Brad Beyer and Lt. Bob Klug as they put the finishing touches on the bikes which will be given away this Saturday from the west side station to people in need.
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.