Voting was brisk in the city yesterday as spring elections were held. City Clerk Robert Klug reported that 60% of the city’s voters turned out to cast a ballot. In contested races in the city Mayor Ralph “Fata” Voigt easily won re-election over Harvey Struck; incumbent street commissioner Kermit Meyer defeated challenger Victor Bachelder. Two incumbent aldermen were defeated as Donald Teskey in the fifth ward was defeated by Patrick Nugent and Robert Egan in the eighth ward was defeated by former ninth ward alderman Walter Proft. On the county board eight new men along with some incumbents will take seats after the election. William Dexter, Herbert Carow, Eugene Schmit, Arthur Schaefer, Robert MacSwain, Ewald Katke, Leroy Meier, Dave Morevac, Henry Golde, Herry Johnson, and Paul Duginski were all elected over challengers. In the school board race Elmer Kahre and Barbara Hanson will return to the board along with newcomer Dennis Knott. (Bill Heideman tells me the turnout in 2014 was 29% in the city)
In a somber announcement first to the students and then to the press, the faculty of Menard Junior College announced on Tuesday that they would be closing their doors forever. The college was opened in 1968 in response to the closing of Holy Cross High School. Provincial Superior Sister Mary Reichl and the college administrator Norman Lederer noted that the failure of other small colleges nationwide factored into their decision to close the school which currently has 48 full time and 76 part time students.
The T. B. Scott Library in Merrill officially became a Wisconsin Registered Landmark during a ceremony this past Sunday. A marker now stands out in front of the library noting its new designation and recognizing the building for its example of early Prairie School architecture. The designation also coincides with the observation of the county’s 100th anniversary. Library Board President Mrs. John Gebert addressed those assembled. This is the first historical marker in the county.
Police Chief Gerald “Bimp” Plautz is officially calling it a career at the Merrill Police Department. Plautz started a five week vacation on April 1 which when finished will mark the end of his service to the city. Plautz joined the force in 1947 when the police did not even have radios. Large signal lights on top of city hall would notify beat patrol officers to call in to the station when there was a call. Plautz was named acting chief of police in 1962 when then Chief Hugo Hanig was stricken with a heart attack. Plautz was named the permanent chief in 1963. Plautz saw his force grow from 14 officers to 18 along with the department gaining an unmarked patrol car, a radar set, a breath testing machine for impaired drivers, a teletype, and a Cushman scooter for parking patrol. Plautz has no immediate plans for his retirement; he resides on Prospect Street with his wife Millie.
Twenty-one of 22 county board supervisors were re-elected on Tuesday but the mystery remains who will take the seat in district eight. Incumbent representative Don Harris withdrew from the race last week but his name was still on the ballot. A last minute write-in campaign by Merrill Police Officer Jay Proft did not get the voter response he hoped as Harris outpolled him 143 to 16. According to County Clerk Ken Oldenburg, Harris is the actual seat holder until he resigns it. If he does, the position will be filled by appointment. In city contests, Ronald Schroeder beat out fourth ward alderman Bryan Stimers and in the eighth ward long time alderman Elmer “Madam” Kleinschmidt lost to challenger Robert St. Clair. Long time incumbents Ellsworth “Zonie” Plautz of the second ward and Roger “Budda” English of the fifth ward each easily defeated challengers to their seats.
Weinbrenner Shoe Company President Lance Neinow and Wisconsin Senator Bob Kasten announced a large defense department contract for the local manufacturer. A total of 140,000 pairs of Weinbrenner boots will soon be heading out to our servicemen and women. Neinow said the large order would be split 50/50 with the Marshfield factory and will keep workers busy from July through December. The contract is worth $3.3 million dollars.
The Golden Goat has arrived in Merrill. The 24 hour aluminum recycling machine was installed outside of Dave’s Red Owl this past week. A customer can push aluminum cans in the receptacle and after a momentary wait the machine will dispense the user cash for their cans. (The sign says 30 cents per pound)
Although no major contests were on the ballot local poll watchers were amazed at the speed of the returns on Tuesday night. New ballot counting machines had all of the ballots counted and the contests decided by 10 p.m., something unimaginable in the past.
A picture on page four shows two of Merrill’s new restaurateurs; Ku Thoj and Mee Hann moved to Merrill to escape the hustle of Detroit and opened a Chinese restaurant at 1219 E. Main St. Ku actually found Merrill after making a stop while driving between Detroit and Minneapolis, and the couple enjoys the pace of the area in raising their three children. Mee’s family has 28 restaurants, and they have helped in opening the Merrill operation.