Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
The Merrill City Council took action last night to grow the city. Aldermen voted to annex in the area along State Rd. 107 where the Club 107 bar sits. Neal Callahan, proprietor of Club 107, requested the annex as he is only able to get a beer license from the Town of Merrill while the city can grant him a combination beer/liquor license. That annexation will add on 11 acres. Another annexation on the east side of the city will annex a portion of the Town of Pine River south of Main Street to allow the expansion of the Whispering Pines Mobile Home Park to the south side of the street. The Town of Pine River has gone on record opposing the move. The council also heard the legal opinion of City Attorney William Wulf regarding the petition presented to City Clerk Robert Klug demanding the city re-visit or rescind their previous action to elect school board members by district. Wulf told the council that under current state law they cannot revisit the issue until two years from its publication, but they could hold a referendum on the matter. The problem is the ballot has been set for the April spring election so it would have to wait until November. The council instructed City Clerk Klug to retain the petitions for what will most likely be a fall referendum.
Harry Pophal has retired from the Post Office. Pophal spent 30 years working at the Merrill Post Office; he started as a substitute carrier in 1947 before beginning a permanent route in 1951. He has been the face at the front window since 1958. Prior to his work there Pophal served in the Air Corps and worked at the former Pophal Grocery Store at 1323 E. Main St. which was run by his father, Otto.
The Lincoln County Personnel Committee has gone on record opposing a measure coming up in the Wisconsin State Legislature that would allow public labor unions the right to binding arbitration in contract negotiations and the right to strike. Chair of the committee, Eugene Schmitt, Jr., stated he is appalled that the state Finance Committee would do this to municipalities. In a symbolic resolution the board voted to note their opposition to the matter to state legislatures. Schmitt stated that if passed it would allow outside parties to come to Lincoln County and decide on labor issues, something the county board would be better suited to do as they know their own desires and financial capabilities.
Due to a widespread outbreak of the flu, visitors are no longer allowed at Holy Cross Hospital. Sister Mary Charles, Hospital Administrator, issued the ban on Monday. If you wish to reach out to your family members in the hospital you are told to call and a message will be relayed.
Time to start recycling, Merrill. That is the word from the Merrill Common Council who has instructed the street department to work with Schulz’s Recycling to develop a recycling program for all city residents. The measure is in response to the cost of transferring all solid waste to a landfill in Wisconsin Rapids due to the closure of the former Merrill landfill. This has tripled the cost of each can of garbage placed curb side. The city did get good news, the clay they need to purchase to cap the old landfill can be found at a fraction of the cost. The Tork Landfill offered to supply the clay for $2.87 a cubic yard whereas the city had expected to pay $10 to $12 per cubic yard for the material. The city also approved a liquor license for Kickapoo Service Station, 2311 E. Main St. Kickapoo (Kwik Trip now) announced they have purchased land adjacent to the current station and plan on expanding the store and being open 24 hours a day. Currently the store has nine employees.
The city did get good news on the economic front. The state of Wisconsin awarded an economic development grant to Merrill to develop a factory on Taylor Street that will be occupied by a company known as C&H Packaging. Mayor Richard Holt praised the award and stated that the city is definitely on an upswing. C&H will invest a total of $2 million into the startup of the plant which will create 18 jobs immediately and may allow for future expansion and job growth. On the other side of town Fox Point Sportswear is expanding their facility and plans on adding 20 more jobs. The City of Merrill received a $100,000 community block grant to help with the project and has set up a training course so prospective employees can be ready to go when Fox Point looks to hire. The job training center is expected to help with C&H as well.
Merrill Bluejay girls’ basketball coach is glad he brought Joan Lutterbach along for the game. Her last second buzzer beating basket is sending the girls basketball team to the Barn in Madison for the WIAA State Tournament. The girls defeated Superior 40-38 in a white-knuckler see-saw battle which found Merrill down by six to start the second quarter but then went on an eight-point run to go ahead at half time. Superior kept the pressure on Merrill’s 6’2” Gena Rusch throughout the game giving Lutterbach the perfect opportunity to slide under the radar and be wide open underneath for a pass from Sandy Schmidt. Merrill takes on Whitefish Bay Thursday night; if they win they will play either New Berlin West or Watertown on Friday night. The championship game is Saturday evening. A full page ad on page 22 wishes the girls well on their trip south. The sponsors of that ad are: Bondshire Credit Union, Church Mutual, Dave’s Red Owl, Graphic Center at the Foto News, Hurd Millwork, John’s United Foods, Lincoln County Bank, M&I Bank, Merrill Federal Savings and Loan, Miller Home Furnishing, Park City Credit Union, and Snyder Drug. The boys’ 2-17 season came to a quick end Friday at Wausau East. They lost their regional championship game 87-54 to the Lumberjacks. Dale Simon led with 13 points.
St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ will fill some big shoes this week as they install Rev. Earl Eckhart to replace the now retired Rev. Dale G. Kuck. Eckhart is not a new face to the church having previously spent four years there handling the educational aspects of the church. He brings with him his wife Janice and sons Andrew and Adam. He notes his family is very accepted in the Park City and enjoys the quality of life here which cannot be found in bigger cities.
This weekend is St. Patrick’s Day and the Entertainment page is full of fun things to do. Champ’s has corned beef and cabbage on Sunday night as do Harry-O’s, Kathy & Cal’s Club 64, the Highway 51 Truck Stop and Pine Ridge. Ed at Ed & Sharon’s now has pork chops on his menu, Diamond Dave’s will now serve a fish fry on Fridays, Les & Jim’s is going to have green beer and the Old Time Brass on Sunday, the Dog House Saloon in Irma is celebrating their grand opening next weekend but has green beer this weekend, Deja-Vu has two pool tournaments coming up, and Time Out Sports Bar has a dart tournament this weekend with music from Chuck both nights. O’Grund’s Bar has their St. Patty’s Day party on Friday. Hub Inn has a mixed couples’ broomstick event and the Muppets Treasure Island is at the Cosmo along with The Birdcage.