Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
It’s official. The City of Merrill is the proud owner of a new city hall, sort of. The city purchased the current headquarters of Church Mutual Insurance located at 1004 E. 1st St. with a check for $500,000 on Monday. Church Mutual President Dieter Nickel brought his own check for $3,628 which he presented to Merrill Mayor Ralph Voigt as rent on the property. City government will remain in the current city hall building as Church Mutual builds a new world headquarters on 78 acres of land on Johnson Street, which was recently annexed into the city. Church Mutual expects the new building will take 18-26 months to build and the city expects the rent payment for the use of the future city hall will cover the average debt payment on the property and equal the property taxes that were being paid. Mayor Voigt noted at the small ceremony that this provides the city with an up to date building and allows Church Mutual to expand, add jobs, and expand the tax base.
Two longtime Merrill Police Officers have hung up their badges, starting and ending their careers together. Capt. Leslie “Ches” Kienitz and Lt. Harry Maurisak began their careers on Jan. 1, 1950 and ended their careers this past Wednesday. Kienitz, a Merrill native, joined the Army after graduating from Merrill Senior High School. He served 29 months overseas during World War II, having served in France and Germany and gaining the rank Master Sergeant prior to his discharge. Kienitz had planned on becoming a teacher but instead became a policeman. In 1962 he was promoted to Captain of the force. His most memorable moment was the murders in Merrill in 1973 and pulling an unconscious man from a burning building. Kienitz and his wife Marian reside on West 10th Street. Harry Maurisak, a native of Pennsylvania, had moved to Merrill in 1948 and worked as a salesman before joining the force. He rose to the rank of Sergeant in 1962 and Lieutenant in 1965. He served with the 1st Ranger Battalion of the US Army in Sicily and Africa and stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day. His most memorable moment was capturing Joseph Weber moments after he shot and wounded Capt. Elmer Krueger, Krueger would later die of his injuries. Maurisak and his wife Lucille live on Riverside Avenue in Merrill. (I remember as a child going up to the old police station so my dad could wish those two well on their last day; I can still see Ches working the desk on his last day. Ches died way too young, passing away just 10 years later; his son Paul still leads the city band, a job Ches did for over 40 years. Harry lived for 36 years in Rothschild where he lived with Lucille. He owned a motel and two rock collectors’ shops. My mother had told me that Harry saw very brutal action during his Army service and after recuperating from wounds in the hospital he returned to find his entire unit had been killed. He aided my writing of the murder of Captain Krueger and of the Wayne Smith murders in the early ‘70s.)
The Merrill Bluejay boys’ basketball team dropped their first game of the new year to the Antigo Red Robins on Saturday. The Jays kept up with the visiting neighbors for three quarters but a fourth quarter run of 25 points left the Jays on the tail end of 62-43 loss in the East Gym. Bob Semling led the team with 14 points. The team next travels to Wausau East this Friday night where the Lumberjacks are tied on top of the Valley at 7-1.
Starting next August the State of Wisconsin will start phasing out the cheese on our vehicles. Over 110,000 residents voted on the new license plate design, which will replace the traditional yellow and black plates. Doug Hornung’s of Fond du Lac design of the red barn, sailboat and rising sun drew the most votes of the six finalists. Although his design does not include the words “America’s Dairyland” the new plates will still carry the slogan which originated in 1939.
The chamber ambassadors were out this past week to welcome a new business to town. Jeff Burby and his wife Lyn have opened “A Locksmith” shop at 1500 River St. The store will offer every aspect of the lock and key business. Pictured with the new owners are Chamber Executive Dee Olsen and Ambassadors Charles Phelps and John Roberts.
The Merrill Bluejay girls’ basketball team might as well have stayed home if the hype was actually factual. The word around the Valley was the D.C. Everest girls’ basketball team was unstoppable and would soon make quick work out of the local team. But the girls did show up, and as usual Coach Bob Yuska’s team rose to the occasion, stopping the Evergreens 54-44 giving them a tie in the conference with a 6-1 record. On Friday the girls went on to defeat the Rhinelander Hodags, 54-44. The boys remain not as lucky in the Valley, they dropped a close one against the Evergreens and lost 44-43 in overtime. The boys did stay in the game with last minute help from Bob Ott and Dale Simon sending it into overtime, but a last second jumper by Darrell Osypowski missed its mark and led to the loss. The game at Rhinelander on Friday was even less fortunate with a 54-48 decision leading to the boys’ seventh straight loss.
Good Samaritan Health Center in Merrill has announced the opening of a Walk-In Clinic at the facility. The clinic was based on a survey of patients’ needs and will assist people who need medical care locally and quickly but do not require an emergency room visit. The visits will be billed as a clinic visit to your insurance company and any treatment provided will be sent to your regular doctor for their review. The clinic will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Merrill Area Development Corporation has a bright outlook on the New Year. Officers for the group this year are President Gary Hartwig, Vice-president Brian Arndorfer, Treasurer Ron Hornisher, and Secretary John Koch. They report that Thomas Materials Handling has purchased 2.5 acres in the industrial park for a proposed expansion, and C&H Packaging plans on adding another press due to an increase in business. MADC is also in the process of selling two lots in the industrial park to Hurd Millwork for a proposed expansion. The MADC was formed in 1955 with 100 stockholders. Their first successful effort was bringing the Hanson Glove Factory to town. They developed their first industrial park in 1962 which soon brought five companies to it: Baumgart Waste Removal, Kwaterski Millwork, Merrill Iron and Steel, Metal Industries of California, and Wire Products in 1973.
The Family Medical Clinic has announced the retirement of Dr. James Janowiak. The graduate of Marquette Medical School was recruited to Merrill in 1965 by Dr. Ole Ravn to work at the Ravn Medical Clinic, now known as Family Medical. Janowiak noted the one thing that stood out in his years in medicine was all the advances that took place in the profession.
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.