Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
After the votes were counted the Democrats clearly dominated at the ballot box yesterday. Most of the local offices will have the same faces but we will have a new president headed to the White House. Locally, three-term incumbent Ken Oldenburg held off a challenge by Alice Krueger for the job of County Clerk. Richard Olson will become our new DA after defeating fellow Merrill attorney Steve Olson with 57% of the vote. State Senator Clifford “Tiny” Krueger easily defeated Democrat challenger Charles Arndt of Eagle River with Krueger tallying 42,363 votes compared to 22,933 by Arndt. State Assembly Rep. Sheehan Donoghue had a much closer challenge in the district but locally she out polled her challenger Richard Voss of Rhinelander. She returns to Madison with 52% of the popular vote. Local voters gave the nod to the Democratic ticket of Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale but only by 136 votes in the entire county. Voters are also sending back four-term incumbent Dave Obey to Washington along with Senator William Proxmire.
In local briefs: Expect 34-40 employees of the new Gibson’s Discount Center to be on hand when the store opens its doors to 20,400 square feet of savings in mid-city Merrill next Wednesday. The store is owned by the Pamida Corp. based out of Omaha and is one of 10 stores now in Wisconsin. (It is County Market now.) Pictures on page 8 show the former Merrill railroad depot being leveled to accommodate the parking lot of the new department store. Rev. Eberhard Klatt will preach his final sermon this Sunday at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Rev. Klatt has served the congregation since June of 1968 and will now move to Bethany Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. He was very involved locally with the Merrill Area United Way. The South Center Avenue viaduct is now officially opened. Crowds gathered to watch and autos lined up to be the first to cross the span which had been closed due to resurfacing of the structure. Mayor Ralph “Fata” Voigt is pictured cutting the ceremonial ribbon with County Highway Commissioner Francis Fox and County Board Chair Neil LeMay.
The Merrill High School closed out its football season with a 7-6 win over Wausau West on Friday with the Jays now sharing second place with D.C. Everest in the Valley Conference. Merrill scored on its first possession and from there the defense held steady for the win. The Warriors did score on a 55-yard touchdown pass, but their attempted two point conversion failed giving the local boys the win.
After the votes were counted the Republicans clearly dominated at the ballot box yesterday. With the exception of 7th District Congressman Dave Obey all of the big races on the local ballot went to the Republicans including our new Governor, Tommy Thompson, his Lieutenant Governor Scott McCallum, Attorney General Donald Hanaway, 35th Assembly Rep Thomas Ourada, and US Senator Robert Kasten. Most impressive is the fact that nearly 50% of the voters turned out county wide. All county seats were uncontested at the polls. Incumbents returning to office locally are: County Clerk Elizabeth McHenry, Treasurer Florian Koehler, Sheriff Ronald Krueger, Coroner James Janowiak, Clerk of Court Janet Beyer Thums, DA Steve Robinson, and Register of Deeds Warren Weckwerth.
Members of the local union at Northern Wire will sit down with management and a federal mediator starting Friday to solve the now month-long strike at the facility on Merrill’s north side. An attorney for the company states this is the first time the two sides have talked since the workers took to the picket lines. The company hopes to have a quick agreement when they take to the bargaining tables.
The expanded and widened East Main Street is now officially opened. Mayor Dick Holt is pictured cutting the ribbon on the new roadway this past Thursday. The road was widened from two to four lanes from Memorial Drive to the Pine Ridge Oasis.
A face familiar to most Merrill residents faded into the sunset this past Friday with the passing of Leslie “Ches” Kienitz. Kienitz was born in Merrill on Sept. 6, 1920. He served as a Master Sgt. In the United States Army during World War II. When he returned to Merrill he joined the Merrill Police Department in 1950 and served until 1976, retiring at the rank of Captain. After retirement Kienitz worked part time at Council Grounds State Park. If you were fortunate enough not to encounter Kienitz in his police role you most certainly saw him front and center at most parades. Kienitz led the Merrill City Band as drum major in parades since World War II. A funeral was held yesterday at Trinity Lutheran Church, he is survived by his wife Marian, a son Paul (who now leads the city band in parades, literally following in his father’s footsteps) and daughters Kathleen Olson, Geri Knowles, and Julie Wendorf.
The Merrill Bluejay football team closed out their season with a 7-0 loss at Wausau West this past Wednesday. Merrill finished with a 2-6 Valley record on the season; Coach Greg Schofield expressed his regret on the seniors he will lose this year but is looking forward to building the program next season.
After the votes were counted both major parties went away with victories at the ballot box yesterday. On the national side President Bill Clinton and his running mate Vice President Al Gore took 6,133 votes as compared to the Republican ticket of Bob Dole and Jack Kemp who garnered 4,040 electoral votes. Appointed by Governor Tommy Thompson this fall and now officially selected by the voters, John Schellpfeffer defeated democrat Mike Gravely 6,395 to 5,519. Paul Proulx will be sworn in as Sheriff of Lincoln County this January as he held back Democrat Bill Voigt and a write-in challenge from incumbent Sheriff Ron Kruger. Robert Kunkel will assume the office of County Clerk and Cindy Kimmons will be newly elected Clerk of Court defeating challenger Christine Rozewicz.
Park Place in Merrill is celebrating 25 years housing the elderly of Merrill. A formal dinner took place in the common room at the high rise structure on Merrill’s west side this past week. Louise Gryskiewicz, Lillian Beckman, Clara Hackbart, and Edna Flynn were all recognized at the banquet as all four ladies have been tenants of the building since it opened.
Stop with the kegs already. So says Merrill authorities in the wake of yet another prank at the high school. The gag involves a pickup truck in the middle of the high school lot with a big keg in the back, students gather around drinking from the keg with provided plastic cups and passing motorists are shocked to the point of calling local police thinking a keg party is being held on school grounds. The keg is filled with root beer, and no violations of any ordinance are taking place but school officials are tired of the practice and have asked Merrill officials to create an ordinance barring the distribution of any beverage from a keg on school grounds. City Attorney Jim Godlewski and Police Chief Neil Strobel are taking this opportunity to completely revamp the loitering ordinance at all Merrill schools.