Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
The City of Merrill Common Council voted last night to sell the parking lot at East 1st and Scott streets to the Lincoln County Housing Authority. Last week a committee selected that lot as the place to build a public housing complex. The initial resolution called for the city to give the lot to the county, but Alderman Jean Rogers amended the measure demanding the county re-pay the city $60,000 upon transfer so the city can recoup the money they have invested in the property. County Housing Authority Chairman Henry Meier stated the sale amount is going to have to be worked out between the County Board and City Council as his committee has no funds to make such a purchase. The city also moved ahead with plans to close Scott Street from East Main Street to East 1st Street in order to facilitate the building. A public hearing on that will be held in July.
Local attorney Richard Olson has announced he is running for Lincoln County District Attorney. Olson, 39 of Merrill, stated in his announcement that people are fed up with crime and does not want to see the local district attorney’s office as a place where young lawyers get “on the job training.” Olson states he has the background and desire to vigorously prosecute all criminal cases. Olson is an attorney with the Russell-Olson Law Office in Merrill having moved here in 1969. Incumbent Lincoln County District Attorney Dennis Montabon stated last week he is not seeking re-election. An elected official that is seeking re-election is incumbent Sheriff Ronald Krueger. Krueger was elected to the top cop job in 1974 and is just completing his first term in office. He is a life-long resident of Merrill and worked as a full-time deputy for seven years prior to being elected sheriff. Prior to that Krueger was a special deputy and served on the board of directors of the special deputies association. The former Marine and his wife Ann have three children and attend St. Stephen’s Church.
Whoever broke into St. Stephen’s Church this past weekend obviously forgot the eighth commandment. The church was one of four burglaries that took place over the weekend and the only victim that suffered a financial loss. Herman Karpenske, janitor at St. Stephen’s phoned in the report after finding the burglary Monday morning. Glen Teskey, a member of the property committee of the church, is pictured surveying the damage done to a floor safe that the thieves broke through in order to steal the weekend’s collections. Church officials estimated the loss at $2,600. Break-ins were also reported at Plehn’s Drive In restaurant, the Merrill Transport Service, and Teal’s A&W Root Beer Stand.
The Merrill Common Council met last night and discussed what appears to be the cause of the recent unrest at the Merrill Police Department. Several closed session meetings have taken place recently with the city’s health and safety and personnel and finance committees regarding the police department, but officials have been tight lipped as to the issues. At the council meeting the aldermen were presented information regarding the three shift system which was implemented in January on a trial basis. The council voted unanimously to continue on with the shift system throughout the summer. They instructed Chief Johnson to report back to the health and safety committee in the fall on how it affected overtime and staffing. The council also voted to continue the two civilian dispatchers within the department, a move that frees up officers for more patrol work. The council was also notified of a claim from Corning View Farms for $262,000 against the city’s fire department for damages suffered during a barn fire back in January. The plaintiff is alleging an improper response caused the fire to spread and then destroy over $600,000 in property.
Organizers in the Town of Corning are reporting rapid progress in starting their own fire department. Ed Dinges, who owns Ed & Sharon’s Country Inn in Corning, reported that an advertisement placed in Wisconsin magazine aimed at volunteer firefighters has produced donations from all over the state. “We are getting hats, coats and some firefighting equipment,” Dinges stated. The town has also purchased a used pumper truck and an ambulance for the department’s use with some of the $25,000 that was set aside for the start-up of the department. On July 3, 20 men from the town will begin firefighter training at classes which will be held at the Town of Corning Town Hall. Each man will pay for their own firefighter training class which cost $20. Bob Pound from NCTI will instruct the class.
Lincoln County has officially filed a lawsuit against Mead and Hunt, the engineering firm who consulted with the county in the ill–fated attempt to repair the Prairie Dells Dam. The suit was filed in Lincoln County Court and claims that engineers from the firm misled the county as to the costs of the repairs which began at $266,000, soon went to $330,000 and later to $392,000. Lunda Construction began repairs on the dam and soon the bill was up to $400,000 when a leak was found, halting the project for good. A petition with the DNR seeking approval to remove the dam will come with a price tag of $300,000, according to estimates. Mead Hunt was paid $20,000 for consulting on the project.
Looking for things to do in the coming weeks? The Rodeo is coming to town at the end of the month. The event will be at the fairgrounds June 28, 29 and 30. Heritage Days are coming to Gleason the weekend of the 15th; the Lion’s Club is hosting that event which is now in its ninth year. The Tomahawk Chamber needs your entries now if you are going to be in the Pow Wow Parade on the 4th; The 44th annual Pow Wow Parade rolls down Wisconsin Ave at 1 p.m. sharp. And if you just want to stay home, Carl’s Liquor store is under new management with 12 packs of Pabst for only $4.40.
A new deputy will soon be hitting the streets, and he has four legs. Thanks to private and corporate donors, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office will soon put its very first K9 out on patrol. A total of $8,000 was raised for the dog which will be a mixed use patrol/narcotics dog. The dog is currently in Albuquerque where its handler, Deputy Mark Vander Bloomen, will travel for training in September. It is hoped the dog will be on patrol with Vander Bloomen by November at the latest.
A letter to the editor speaks of the dangers of driving east in the city of Merrill on East Main Street. The four-lane roadway that heads to the east from Memorial Drive is too dangerous according to the author and the speed limit should be lowered. Further the letter notes the dangerousness of the interchange at Highway 51 and State Rd. 17. The writer hopes others will join her in writing the state to support the reduction in speed on the roadway from 45 MPH to 35 MPH. In a story on page two it is noted that two people were killed on Friday night after pulling out of a business near Big Eddy Road and being struck by an eastbound vehicle. The speed limit in the area is 45 MPH.