Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
Three separate ribbon cutting ceremonies will be held this Friday as the Wisconsin Department of Transportation opens up 17 miles of new freeway between Wausau and Merrill. Wausau Mayor John Kannenberg will cut the ribbon to open the first stretch of highway at Business Hwy 51 in Wausau. Motorists will then meet in Brokaw where Mrs. George Theiler, widow of former Lincoln County Board and Highway Committee member and the impetus for developing the US Hwy 51 Freeway, will cut the ribbon there at 11 a.m. At 11:45 the bridge over State Rd 64 at the new US Hwy 51 will be the setting of a grand Merrill celebration to mark the opening of the highway bypass. Francis Fox, the Lincoln County Highway Commissioner, will speak and honor Dr. Theiler; Merrill Mayor Ralph “Fata” Voigt will be the Master of Ceremonies and Father James Dabruzzi from St. Robert’s Church will deliver the invocation. Music will be provided by the Merrill Senior High School Band. Those in attendance are invited to Club Modern where a luncheon will be held. Mayor Voigt will be Master of Ceremonies, and Rev. John Eldred of Christ United Methodist Church will lead the group in prayer. Motorists are free to start driving on the new four lane highway at 2 p.m. (This was a big deal for Merrill, no more Friday and Sunday traffic jams through town.)
In local school news, the board and the teachers’ union has settled on a new contract, one they have been negotiating since last January. The contract calls for a 10.5 percent raise in the first year and an 8.8 percent increase in the second year of the contract. Vivian Borchardt on the school board was the lone dissenting vote for the contract. The Fiscal Control Board will soon meet and decide on plans to change to a member at large school board with nine members. Students, good luck on getting to the mailbox quickly as Junior High Assistant Principal Ken Gallenburg reports that progress reports will be mailed this week.
A valiant effort by the Merrill Bluejay football team was not enough as the boys from Antigo defeated the local squad 21-14 on Friday in Antigo. It was the second defeat the Jays have suffered in the first five games of the Wisconsin Valley Conference schedule. Bob Semling started the local scoring with a 30 yard score which was later followed by an Antigo fumble deep in their own territory. But Merrill returned the fumble at the 10 yard line. The Jays knocked on the door early during the second period, but a delay penalty killed the drive. Bob Semling again scored on a two yard run early in the second quarter, but a late score by Antigo’s Karl Koskey put things away. Merrill will host the 3-2 Marshfield Tigers this Saturday.
Former Mayor Pat Nugent has died. Nugent, who has been plagued by health problems, died at a local hospital Friday evening, he was 47. Nugent was born in Merrill and served in the armed forces from 1956 until his discharge for health reasons in 1969. He worked as a free-lance photographer and for the Foto News. He was elected mayor in 1978 but resigned for health reasons in 1979. He served as Fifth Ward alderman from 1974 to 1978 and again from 1980 to 1982. He was elected to the county board in 1970 and was its chair in 1972, but again had to step down due to health problems. He served as chairman of the Lincoln County Democratic Party from 1980 to 1981. Nugent is survived by his parents, two sons, and three sisters. A visitation was held on Sunday evening at the Wistein’s Funeral Home, and a funeral mass was held on Monday at St. Francis Catholic Church. Father Peter Szleszinski officiated and burial was in the church cemetery.
The Merrill Bluejay football team has reason to celebrate with their first win of the season. The Jays defeated Eau Claire North in front of a capacity homecoming crowd Saturday by a score of 22-12. Jim Zimmerman was the star rusher for the game, carrying the ball 147 yards on 30 carries despite sloppy field conditions. Dave Schepp chipped in 39 yards on nine carries while playing with a sore elbow which caused him to miss practice this week. Rod Akey made his debut at quarterback in the game, gaining 67 yards on 18 carries. Coach Greg Schofield remarked that Akey played really well despite having only four days of practice after being named the starting QB. Merrill will now travel to Rhinelander this Friday. The games will soon be much brighter in Merrill as the new lights at Jay Stadium went up this past week. Athletic Director Jack Ader reports two Saturday games have already been rescheduled for Friday nights.
It’s Restaurant Month and in a two page ad the following local eateries invite you to stop in for a bite: Skipper’s, Hardee’s, Rajek’s Riverside Club, East and West Side Kozy Korner, Hwy 51 Truck Stop, BlackHeath, Pat’s Pizza, Pine Ridge Restaurant, Champs, The Country Way, Lincoln House Restaurant and Lounge, and Club Modern.
The city firefighters are still without a contract, but some city officials will be getting raises. Whomever is elected mayor next year will see a salary increase to $14,700 and another in 1987 to $16,000. The council explained this was to catch up the mayor’s pay which now includes a $1,800 car allowance. Spread out over the four year term the raises come to about four and one third per cent per year. The failure to ratify the contract with Local 847 is just an honest misunderstanding according to alderman and Personal and Finance Chair Anita Gebert. She went on to explain that the city thought they had an agreement with the firemen but there is now a disagreement over what they agreed to.
A management study which pointed fingers at several city officials has failed to prove any wrong doing by Chief of Police Charles Johnson. Lincoln County District Attorney James Blask and Special Prosecutor Daryl Nevers concluded Johnson did nothing wrong despite allegations contained within the report. Blask went on to say that Johnson has had a long and distinguished career and his dedication to law enforcement and the community are beyond reproach.
Despite a staunch local defense, the Hodags of Rhinelander ruined the Merrill Homecoming game this past Saturday with a 19-12 victory. Quarterback Brad Marlowe was 9-23 with Jon Hanson catching six of those passes for 48 yards. The Jays travel to Stevens Point this Friday with a 25 game losing streak hanging over their heads.
A crew from the CBS Show, “Rescue 911” was in the area this past week filming in the Hamburg area. The show will detail the lifesaving work of Hamburg First Responders and the Athens Ambulance after a horse and wagon incident last July which critically injured Julie Kuck. She was participating in an annual wagon train outing in Marathon County when the incident occurred near the intersection of State Rd 107 and Lincoln Drive. Hamburg First Responder Heidi Grenwalt was on the scene of the incident within minutes where she was later assisted by Carrie Riemer and Brenda Huffman.
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.