Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
According to City of Merrill Building Inspector Gary Hartwig, Merrill is on the move. Hartwig reports that the number of new building permits for new homes is double the 1975 pace while the number of permits for remodeling has remained the same. Such projects are expected to increase real estate value in the city by over half a million dollars, double the quarter million dollar mark set in 1975. Some of the projects currently underway include the new building to house the expanding Church Mutual on State Rd. 17, the new drive-up for Lincoln County Bank on West Main Street, Hinner and Associates, Sharway Fashions, Drew’s Food Store, the Pamida Store, the Hilltop Medical Clinic, Assembly of God Church, Wood Chip Inc, Metal Industries, and the expansion at Pine Crest.
In local government news, State Representative Sheehan Donoghue has announced she will seek a third term in the Wisconsin State Assembly. Donoghue represents the 35th district which covers all of Lincoln and parts of Oneida and Langlade counties. She was first elected to the Assembly in 1972. Donoghue is a Merrill native, UW-Madison grad, and recently worked for the Republican National Committee in Washington D.C. Roger Zuesldorf has been re-elected as president of the Merrill Board of Education. Barb Hanson is vice-president and Jean English is secretary. State Senator Clifford Krueger of Merrill recently attended a social at St. Robert’s School; he presented Principal Gary Drury with a commemorative Bicentennial flag. Lincoln County Emergency Government Director Norm Heideman has received a letter of recognition from Governor Patrick Lucy for his work for the emergency fuel assistance program this past year. The modest Heideman (a trait his son Bill inherited) said the credit should go to Social Services head Curt Moe and the Sheriff’s Office who help administer the program.
The Cosmo Theatre has it, and now the whole community can watch “The Giant Spider Invasion,” filmed in downtown Merrill. The Bill Rebane movie was filmed this past year throughout northcentral Wisconsin and stars Steven Brodie, Barbara Hale, Leslie Parrish and Alan Hale. Show times are 7:00 and 9:45, with the bonus second feature of “The Legend of Big Foot” showing at 8:30. (For some reason when I looked up the cast members for most of them I noticed this was their last or nearly last feature film so I guess they went out on top.)
The ongoing saga involving the Prairie Dells Dam might have just gotten a bit costlier as the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors voted this past Tuesday to proceed with legal action against the engineering firm Mead and Hunt. In June of 1984 the board voted to repair the dam after engineers from the Madison-based company informed them that the dam could be repaired. This led to the hiring of Lunda Construction to complete the repairs with an estimated $385,000 price tag. Lunda began the repairs on the dam but six months later informed the board that the dam had a leak at the bottom of it. After much wrangling and plenty of residential uproar, the board voted to end the repair work and remove the dam. Eventually the county settled with Lunda, paying them $370,000 for work they did on the project. Madison-based attorney Robert Smith of Wickwire, Gavin and Gibbs met with the board in closed session on Tuesday and afterwards the board voted to pay a retainer of $50,000 for the firm to seek civil damages against Mead and Hunt. None of the supervisors would comment on the matter.
As you were warned last week, this will go down as the driest day in Merrill history as both tavern owners and others representing the tavern leagues of Wisconsin head to Madison to protest legislation aimed at increasing Wisconsin’s legal drinking age from 19 to 21. Ed Dinges, owner of Ed & Sharon’s Country Inn in the Town of Corning and president of the local tavern league, is leading the group south. He expects to see 5,000 people in Madison and figures that 80% of the taverns in Lincoln County will be locked up tight today. One of those tavern owners, Jim Bares of Lincoln Lanes in Merrill will have his bowling alley closed all day as he and his staff take the bus to Madison. Bares estimated the change would have a big financial impact on his business if it were to proceed through the legislature. Bares feels the change to 19 has promoted a more mature drinking crowd and better education can keep them making more educated decisions as they consume alcohol. He also estimated the economic impact statewide in changing the age will be anywhere between two to 15 million dollars in lost revenue.
Six Veterans of service are pictured on page one putting up the annual Memorial Day display on the Court House lawn this past week. This is all part of the plans for the annual Memorial Day ceremony being planned for this Monday. Dick Simon, Ray Waschik, Cecil Hill, LeRoy Ott, LeRoy Rice and Lylas Berndt are members of the local firing squad for Schmitt-Manecke-Donner Post 1638. This year’s ceremony at St. Francis Cemetery will feature the Merrill City Band and multiple units presenting the colors. The Rev. Greg Woodard, a six-year Marine Corp Vet, will be the featured speaker. Eugene “Skip” Schulz is the master of ceremonies.
In local briefs: Stop at M&I Bank next Friday as they will be hosting an open house honoring longtime employee Marilyn Hehling who is retiring after 37 years. Kathy & Cal’s Club 64 is hosting an anniversary party for their eighth years in business; tap beer is only .64 this week and door prizes will be given away. 3’s Company, which is under new ownership, has the bar open but the dining room remains closed for remodeling. The Merrill Pine Ridge Association will have their annual carnival in the parking lot of Wal-Mart starting tomorrow; Tip Top Amusements will have rides. It is a sure sign of the end of school as several businesses have pictures of their employees who are graduating seniors. And it’s only May, but an ad on page 22 announces the candidacy of Mike Gravely for Lincoln County DA. He is an assistant DA in Marathon County and lists numerous law enforcement endorsements.