Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
Spring fever has struck northcentral Wisconsin as temperatures have soared into the 50s, unheard of for February. Pictured are vehicles lined up at a car wash, students at MHS enjoying their lunch break on the Stange’s Park bridge, and the high school track team running as daffodils poked out of ground nearby. The spring-like temperatures should stick around through at least Saturday leaving residents to think of green grass and blue robin eggs.
The Youth Advisory Council has made a recommendation to the Merrill Common Council that a youth center be constructed east of the Weinbrenner Shoe Factory. The proposed building will be 40 by 120 and will be only used for the Youth Center.
Once the smoke cleared at the WIAA Sectional Wrestling Tournament in Schofield last weekend the Merrill High School wrestling team stood in second place in the Valley with four wrestlers heading to state. The UW Fieldhouse in Madison will host the individual state tournament this weekend; Bruce Waldburger, Gary Osness, Dave Wendorf and John Fehlberg will all be on hand with Fehlberg having earned a regional crown after defeating Wisconsin Rapids’ Dave Osterbrink.
In local government news the county is working hard and believes they can have a landfill open by this fall if all goes well. The county is currently doing testing on property owned by Alfred and Cleone Turner in the Town of Birch. Preliminary well drilling and soil sampling have been completed under the eye of the DNR and all looks in order. In a candidate profile, current alderwoman Anita Gebert and her challenger Robert Monti are interviewed. Gebert feels her 10 years of government experience will help lead the city into the future. She currently sits on the powerful Personnel and Finance Committee and notes that although every surrounding community is having problems financially Merrill is in much better financial shape and property tax raises are minimal or nonexistent. With other taxes driving down the economy Gebert noted residents are paying as much as they can afford to live here and afford a home. Bob Monti would like to use his 24 years as an educator to foster the youth of Merrill. With the closing of the Youth Center by Weinbrenner as an example, Monti feels city government is not addressing the needs of the youth and is using band aids instead of solving the major problems.
Well this is certainly a good sign for spring: the Dairy Queen is opening tomorrow. A picture on the front page shows motorists cleaning their cars at the Jet Spray East 1st Street car wash. Warm temperatures this week have many people thinking of spring.
Four wrestlers from Merrill will represent the Bluejays as they take to the mats at the field house in Madison this weekend. At the sectional WIAA Tournament Merrill claimed third place. Wisconsin Rapids came in first, handily scoring 155 points, Stevens Point was second with 99, and Merrill was just behind with 92. Kelly Bloomer, Joe Ramsey, Dave Schepp and Tom Weix all advanced after the sectional tournament to the barn in Madison.
Employees of Lincoln Hills School held an informational picket last Friday at the Lincoln County Court House. The members of Local 6 are upset at the current management system at the youth correctional center, alleging that they are ignoring their obligation to provide a safe and secure environment for the employees to work in. Youth counselor Carol Heffernan told the Foto News that they had 14 staff assaults in the last six months, five considered serious assaults happened in the last week. The employees are also upset about the lack of prosecution of assault suspects by local District Attorney James Blask. According to Blask, he has prosecuted every case that has come before him and the offenders have all gone to prison, but members of the union state this isn’t true and that Blask is normally unwilling to prosecute offenders brought before him. Heffernan went on to say the union is calling on management to be more responsive and work with the union members on safety issues. She also noted that Blask campaigned on his promise to change the safety and security for staff at Lincoln Hills by prosecuting staff assault suspects, a promise Heffernan says has not been kept.
Readers are learning more about a management study conducted on the operations of Merrill Area Pubic Schools and the vision it has laid out for the facilities over the next five years. The plans call for the purchase of land to build a brand new building to house a high school with field house and auditorium, converting the present high school into a middle school, converting the current junior high into a high school, moving all MAPS administrative offices into the current junior high and future middle school, closing and selling Franklin, Lincoln, and Scott schools, renovating or building a new Maple Grove School at that site, and spending up to $700,000 to upgrade the technology in all buildings. The study went on to say that the district can afford such an expense based on their formula for debt service repayment.
The Merrill basketball teams showed their strength this past week when they put up a pair of wins against Valley foe Marshfield. The girls’ defeat of the Tigers led to a perfect season record in the Valley Conference at 16-0. Stand outs Melissa Yuska and Jessica Van Der Geest had double digit games again with Yuska scoring 15 and Van Der Geest scoring 14. The only loss all season for the girls was against Hudson; that occurred during triple overtime in the final of the Merrill Tournament. Coach Bob Yuska again credits his strong defense in helping the girls through their undefeated Valley reign. The girls now head to Green Bay where they will open up tournament action Tuesday. If they win there they will be on to Marinette for regional action. The boys’ team also defeated Marshfield last week after losing a close game to Wisconsin Rapids. Jesse Zuelsdorff scored 19 points and Troy Pieper added on 17 in the 69-46 win at Marshfield. The 5-13 Jays have their final home game this Friday against Everest. The boys’ regional tournament starts next Tuesday at Green Bay.
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr