Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
The Merrill Jaycees held their annual awards banquet this past Thursday to honor local residents for their distinguished service to the community. Charles Pierotti, Engineer for the City of Merrill, was presented with a distinguished service award for his efforts to maintain high standards in all areas of his responsibility. At the same time it was noted that Pierotti is devoted to his family despite all of the extra demands that are placed on him at this time. Other awards included the outstanding educator to Robert Syth, a Merrill Senior High School agriculture instructor, Thomas Schotz was awarded the top cop award for his dedication to duty, outstanding young farmer citation went to Gary and Elma Gruetzmacher who farm in the Town of Pine River, and Mel Peterson was named boss of the year by his employees at Mel’s Big Dollar Supermarket where they noted his encouragement to be involved in the community.
Two brothers from Merrill got some interesting air mail last month. Rob and Paul Russell, sons of George Russell of Cotter Court in Merrill, were driving with their father on the back roads of the Town of Tomahawk when the pair spotted some pink objects in the woods. When they investigated they discovered now deflated balloons that had been launched from 800 miles away less than 24 hours before in Miles City, Montana. The balloons were part of a project from the second grade class at Lincoln School in Miles City. There Mrs. Aebedella Woff and her students released 20 balloons into the air to see how far they would go. Each of the balloons had a card that asked that the finder write the students when found. Mrs. Wolff’s students not only got postcards from the Russell brothers but also a host of cards from Elayne Ollmann’s second grade class at Lincoln School in Merrill where the Russell brothers’ mother Nancy just happened to be substitute teaching this past week.
The basketball teams at Merrill Senior High School are off to a slow start to the season. The boys’ team is still searching for its first win after being handed a tough loss Saturday at the hands of Wausau West. The Jays led for most of the first half but went into the locker room at halftime tied up at 28. In the second half a slow fourth quarter led to a 58-47 loss. On Friday night the boys took on the winless Tigers from Marshfield and took a 50-59 loss there as well. This Friday the boys travel to Stevens Point where the unbeaten Panthers sit on top of the Valley with Wausau East, with both teams at 4-0 on the season. The leading scorer for the Jays so far is Eric Finanger who is averaging 15.7 points per game. The girls’ team did quite well against Wausau West on Saturday but turnovers ended up costing them the game in the end. The Warriors not only controlled the boards but also the turnover column when they took the 28-26 victory over the visiting Jays. Coach Jean Mader was disappointed in the loss noting the girls played three great quarters before letting the game slip away in the final period.
The City of Merrill Common Council passed their 1987 budget yesterday and property owners will see an increase in the tax rate. Officials blamed an increase in insurance costs and costs of operations as well as decreased funding from the state shared revenue program for the increase of $3.78/1,000. The council also restored a position in the police department that was left unfilled clearing the way for an officer to be hired in the coming weeks. The council also reinstated money originally cut that provided a secretary who served 20/20 between the Street Department and Park and Recreation Department. Mayor Holt cautioned residents that some projects may be slowed by the decrease in funding that the city is seeing from the state. The council also approved a change in the winter parking ordinance which requires you park on the odd side of the street on odd days, and even on even days. Previously the ordinance just prohibited overnight parking from December to April.
The long painful strike at Norther Wire Corporation has ended, but apparently not all of the pain is gone. The attorney representing Northern Wire announced the settlement this past Thursday but noted the contract the union signed was pretty much the same that was offered to them prior to the strike occurring. Minor modifications did take place regarding job posting and seniority, but union demands such as requiring all new employees to sign up for the union, or restored life insurance benefits, were not included. The men and women that walked the picket line are now considered in layoff status with only two of them having been called back to work since the strike ended. The majority of the positions that were left open by the strike have been filled by replacement workers. The attorney did note that former strikers will be called back to work to fill future openings and/or if orders increase. The union has filed unfair labor charges against the company for failing to allow them to return to work. Acting Chief of Police Dennis Hintze warned union members to remain on their best behavior as the matter is worked through; he noted seven homes were vandalized with spray paint in the last two months in the city, all of them occupied by people connected to Northern Wire.
The Merrill boys’ basketball team is off to a slow start and Coach Pete Miller is blaming poor shooting as the cause. The Jays are currently shooting 28% and dropped their second game of the season to the Wausau East Lumberjacks Friday 44-38. Darrell Osypowski led the home team with 12 points. John Pruss is the second leading scorer for the Jays but the flu kept him on the bench last week and ineffective this week. Merrill travels to Marshfield Friday night before hosting Stevens Point on Saturday. The girls’ team fared better against East on Saturday. Despite the fact that Robyn Schulze and Stephanie Hoge stayed on the sidelines due to injuries and Gena Rusch who is nursing a sore ankle only came into the game with two minutes left on the clock the Jays won the game 47-39 in a game that Coach Bob Yuska thought would be a blow out.
Thanks to the local Xi Pi Sorority we now know who the cutest baby is in Merrill, Chloe Turner. She was the winner in the recent baby contest in which shoppers at Drew’s Piggly Wiggly stuffed pennies in boxes picking the cutest of the bunch. Brady Geiss and David Michael were not far off with Brady taking second place and David taking third place. Joann Peel, Brad and Sue Geiss, and Gina Kleinschmidt are all pictured with the winners.
We haven’t had Christmas dinner yet but the Entertainment Page would like you to think about New Years. Lincoln Lanes will have an all you can eat prime rib buffet for $14.75. Mulligans will have a buffet dinner, open bar, and dancing with the Music Connection until 1 a.m. for only $75 a couple.