Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
Grand plans have been finalized as Church Mutual Insurance Company prepares to move to its new site on the east side of town. Last week the front page noted that Church Mutual had sold its current headquarters to the City of Merrill who will utilize the building as its new city hall. This week President of Church Mutual Dieter H. Nickel outlined their plans for their new world headquarters on 78 acres off of Highway 17 and Johnson Street. Nickel stated construction will begin on the facility in May and he hopes to have it completed by the summer of 1977. The total project cost is $2.5 million dollars (over $10 million in today’s money) for the building that has three levels with each floor consisting of 54,000 square feet. The upper level will house the company’s operational activities, the mid-level will be home to the executive offices, administration, data processing, and home office sales while the ground level will hold the advertising–printing department and other support services. Nickel stated the current home office employed 82 people as of last year and he expects that number to increase to 91 in 1976. By 1985 they project with continued expansion they may employ 216 people locally. That is in addition to the 65 employees who are employed in field operations. (According to their web site, as of June of 2014 the company employed 978 people, 728 out of the home office.)
More changes in local law enforcement as three more veteran officers call it a career and one begins his. Three deputies of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office have officially retired, Captain Bert Strasman, Sgt. Roland Moore, and Deputy Kenneth Edmunds all retired Dec. 31. Strasman began his career in 1948 as a part of the Lincoln County Traffic Patrol. He was in charge of the patrol when it merged into the Sheriff’s Office in 1968. Strasman was first lieutenant before being promoted to captain in 1972. He graduated from Tomahawk High School and served with the US Army during World War II in Europe. Strasman indicated he will stick around home with his wife Ruth; he already has a part-time job and may seek public office in his retirement. The second retiree, Moore, served 21 years in the Air Force having been in Russia during World War II and seeing action in Korea during the conflict. He began working for the county in 1967 having served with the former traffic bureau and ambulance service. He was promoted to Sgt. in 1972. He and his wife Phyllis reside in Tomahawk. Edmonds was a former machinist and part-time conservation warden before beginning his law enforcement career in 1969. He too served on the traffic patrol and county ambulance before becoming a deputy in 1969. Edmonds was a civilian construction employee in Guam during World War II and was held prisoner by the Japanese from December of 1941 to Sept. 13, 1945. Edmonds already has his retirement job in hand, he is the night supervisor at Champ’s Restaurant in Merrill. He and his wife Alice reside at Rural Route 3, Merrill. The new face on the local force is that of Mike Kunkel. The 24-year-old Merrill native resides at 211 Pier St. in Merrill and is a 1969 graduate of Merrill Senior High School. Chief Charles Johnson also announced that besides the appointment of Kunkel the following promotions were made to fill the openings created by the retirement of Ches Kienitz and Harry Maurisak. Allison H. English is the department’s new Captain, Dennis Hintze and Charles Batchelder are the new Lieutenants, and William Kluetz is the new Sergeant. Thomas Schotz assumed the position of detective as current detective Kirby Stoelting was named the juvenile officer. One more appointment will be made in the coming weeks to bring the department up to its 18-man roster.
Sister Mary Thomas, Provincial Superior and Sister Mary Charles, Holy Cross Hospital Administrator delivered the bad news to the Merrill City Plan Commission this past week: Merrill is seriously short of doctors and it is causing the local facility to suffer because of it. In 1968 the hospital had a daily census of 71 patients, but in 1975 that dropped to a low of only 50 patients per day on average. The Sisters noted the hospital is not bankrupt, but it is operating at a deficit. At the present time 10 doctors call Merrill home, but two of them are specialists and not family practice doctors. Sister Mary Charles said the ideal number of practicing physicians would be 12-19 according to state norms. Although no formal action was taken on the need, Sr. Mary Charles reminded those on the commission that this year marked the 50-year anniversary of the city asking the Sisters of Mercy to come to Merrill to establish a hospital.
The deadline is looming for the State of Wisconsin to change its legal drinking age to 21. Wisconsin would lose $21 million in federal highway aid if it does not change the minimum age to 21. Starting Oct. 1 the state will begin losing the money. Despite recent actions in the United States Congress the bill which was adopted in 1984 that causes states to make the change remains in effect.
Numerous pictures in this week’s paper show the local members of the Army National Guard as they prepare to ship out to Germany. Over 5,000 guard members from throughout Wisconsin will head to Germany to participate in war games in West Germany. The operation is called REFORGER 1986, or Return of Forces to Germany. The tanks that are housed locally and manned by our local guardsman are already on the way to Germany to be used in the training. The training is scheduled to conclude on Feb. 3 with the troops returning shortly after that.
Exciting news from the Merrill Area Development Corporation and the City of Merrill as the two team up to seek a loan from the Wisconsin Department of Development for $250,000 in order to bring a new factory to Merrill. The $2 million project which was green lighted last night will bring in a company called C&H Packaging, a newly created firm that has its sights set on the new industrial park. Originally the two principal owners, who have yet to be named publically, sought out space in the Wausau Industrial Park but were talked into choosing Merrill because of their success in obtaining block grants. If all goes well the company should have 19 jobs in the next 18 months, 28 jobs in three years and 50 in five years. (It is now Interflex.)
The library wants their books back, and they are serious about it. The City of Merrill City Attorney has announced a new program to recover overdue library materials which is a new city ordinance charging those responsible with theft for failing to return borrowed items. Library Director Beatrice Lebal noted that the program, which actually started late last year, will see people who fail to return library materials receive three written notices from the City Attorney and those who ignore them will receive a citation for theft. So far, 42 individuals have been cited.
Hungry? Lots of specials this week to curb your appetite. Eddie’s Bake Shop has 14 doughnuts in each dozen you purchase while Pine Ridge Restaurant is celebrating their 19th anniversary with a .96 all you can eat pancake special. Hugo’s Pizza is celebrating their third anniversary and a 12” pizza is only $5.96. Diamond Dave’s has Packer Backer specials where all shrimp dinners are $8.50 and you can get margaritas during the game for only $3.50. If you had too much to eat the Riverside Athletic Club is offering a .99 membership for the month of January and Weight Watchers announces it will now meet at the Super 8 Motel on Wednesday evenings.
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.