Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
Progress is continuing on the new Church Mutual Insurance Company building which is taking shape on Merrill’s far-east side. As a part of the review of 1976 the city notes the Church Mutual development as the largest, and it will soon lead to a new home for city offices as City Hall will move to the current Church Mutual building on East first Street by Labor Day. President of Church Mutual Dieter Nickel noted the construction is on schedule with windows being installed this week in the 54,000 square foot building that has a price tag of $1.9 million.
In area briefs: Two deaths were reported to the Sheriff’s Office on Monday, a Tomahawk man died of an apparent heart attack early Monday morning. The man was found lying next to his idling car on Nelson Avenue near County Rd. J in the Town of Birch. It is suspected the man had stopped to check a trap line in the area. Later that afternoon an Antigo man was killed in a logging accident in the town of Schley. The incident was reported about 1:30 p.m. Monday when the man was struck by a falling tree. The Merrill Police Department is seeking clues on four burglaries that occurred this past weekend. Drugs were stolen after a break in to Fowler Drug Store where the thieves entered through a roof vent. Later that morning burglaries were found at Consumers Co-op and the National Guard Armory. Money was stolen from the Co-op while the armory was undisturbed. Local officials literally burned the midnight oil and then some overnight to ratify a new contract between the local deputies’ union and the county. The group met at 7 p.m. last night and did not emerge from their talks until 3 a.m. this morning when the contract was settled. The contract calls for a base wage of $900 per month, which is an increase of $74 but still short of the average Merrill patrolman who makes $975. Deputies will also have to pay 33% of their insurance premiums this year and 10% next year. Attorney James T. Rogers represented the union while Attorney James Everson, Law Enforcement Committee Chair Dick Baumgart, and Chief Deputy Harvey Woodward represented the county.
It’s A Boy! The first baby born in Merrill in 1977 took a few days, but Roger Plautz is here. He was born at 3:33 p.m. on Jan. 3; he is pictured with his parents Mr. and Mrs. Roger Plautz of Route 7. The first baby in the county was Heather Renee Kaphaem who arrived at 10:48 p.m. on Jan. 2 at Sacred Heart Hospital.
Due to the flu, visitors have not been allowed at Pine Crest for at least a week. The facility hopes to lift that restriction by this Friday, but it may be extended.
In area briefs: A tragic start to the new year as two men were killed in two separate incidents this past Sunday. The early morning light of Sunday morning revealed a fatal traffic crash that took place sometime that morning. Passing motorists spotted the crashed car on State Rd. 17 near County Rd. CCC, and deputies found the 43-year-old Gleason man who had been ejected from his vehicle. On Sunday afternoon a logging accident claimed the life of a 24-year-old Merrill man. The incident happened in the Town of Pine River when a tractor being used to pull a log overturned and pinned the victim underneath. Chief Charles H. Johnson is back on the job at the Police Department after a lengthy absence. Johnson suffered a slight heart attack this past August which was followed by open heart surgery and rehabilitation. Johnson says he is glad to be back to work and is still walking 3-4 miles a day. The other new face at the police department this week belongs to Mark Heckendorf of 303 E. Third St. in Merrill. He is a graduate of the NCTI Police Science program and formerly worked at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. He began his duties as a patrolman on Jan. 5.
The ballot will be full when it comes to the spring election for the Board of Education. Incumbents Jay Tlusty, Diane Mikkelson, and Char Seetan will all seek to retain their seats while David Reid, Robert Pfotenhauer, and Dr. Jerome Mayersak have submitted the needed signatures to put their names on the ballot.
The Zimmerman family is celebrating 10 years in business at Champ’s Family Restaurant and invite you to register for one of their many door prizes. The top prize for the event is $100 worth of meat from Van’s Meat Market in downtown Merrill. The restaurant also features a newly remodeled dining room. Other items on the Entertainment page include: The Jackson Family is playing this Friday at Moonlight Inn, Dan Gruetzmacher will be featured at the Moose Lodge this Sunday, and the Junior Lip Sync finals are this Saturday at Lincoln Lanes where admission is $1. Legion Lounge has perch dinners for $3 and a chicken and shrimp dinner for $5. The Ritz Restaurant has a carryout special of a 21-piece chicken and jojos for $10.75. At 3’s Company the breaded pork chops dinner is $4.95, South of the Border has lasagna for only $3.95, and at the Cosmo it’s Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short as the “Three Amigos.”
With the new year, changes are to be found at Good Samaritan Health Center and its Board of Directors. Rev. Dale G. Kuck is stepping down from the chairman role after 12 years on the board and four as chair. Kuck, who also retired from St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ in Merrill, is not actually retiring, noting his involvement in many other local groups and the Sunburst Youth Home program. Taking the place of Kuck as chair is educator Lanny Tibaldo. A resident of Merrill for the past 21 years, Tibaldo hopes to expand his knowledge of education administration into health care noting both are closely scrutinized by the public. Tibaldo has served as vice-chair of the board for the past year. Taking on the role of vice-chair is Nancy Kwiesielewicz and taking the seat left empty by Kuck’s departure is Sister Mary Anthony Menting.
Burger King on Merrill’s east side is sending out the message that they are not a child care center. Recent appearances of weapons in the ball pit in the Kids Club at Burger King prompted the warning. Two knives were found in the ball pit in the last few weeks, and local police have no explanation other than just accidental loss. Regardless of how the weapons appeared, parents should know to supervise their children in the play area at all times.
In the final installment on newly elected officials, incoming Sheriff Paul Proulx is featured. Proulx speaks of his plans to expand the pro-active approach of his agency with the public when it comes to education, neighborhood watch, and a centralized communication center. The first thing on Proulx’s agenda is hiring a new Chief Deputy as the current one is set to retire in early spring.