Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
First ward alderwoman Jean Rogers is taking on the Merrill School Board and encourages residents to contact the members of that board to put a stop to a proposed new building at the Merrill School Forest. Rogers cited the dire financial status of municipalities and the rate of spending in Merrill. Rogers pointed out that the city council just approved a spending increase in 1977 of 16.9% which included a new youth center, an expansion of the east side fire station, purchasing a new city hall and plans to expand the airport and widen East Main Street. Rogers noted many fine things are accomplished at the facility but Merrill cannot afford a $173,000 “chalet in the woods.” (That is $693,000 today) In a side article, School Superintendent Roger Lowney countered that safety, health and maintenance issues leave the board with little options but to build a new facility at the Rock Falls site. He noted several funding sources for the project such as the DNR and the federal government.
Meanwhile, Merrill Area Catholic Schools is expanding; the faith-based school located on Merrill’s east side will be moving grades sixth through eighth to their facility on West 10th Street. Tuition for students for the school year will be $65 for the first student, $60 for the second and $50 for the third with no family being required to pay more than $175 so no family with a large amount of children will pay more than that amount. The new school will have expanded facilities including a gymnasium. If you have questions you can call Principal Gary Drury at St. Robert’s.
In local sports news: Four Blue Jay wrestlers are headed to Madison for the 34th annual WIAA State Wrestling tournament. Entering the tournament as sectional tournament champions from the D.C. Everest meet last weekend will be Jeff Hanson (138 pounds), John Fehlberg (167 pounds), and Dan Yorde (185 pounds). Dave Wendorf (145 pounds) enters the state meet as a runner-up. The boys’ basketball team is entering into their last game of the season and are hoping for an upset over 16-1 Wausau East. Erik Finanger and Brian Koehler lead the team in scoring for the year with Finanger rated as third best in the conference averaging 18 points a game. Their last time out the boys were defeated by Antigo 71-60.
Merrill Area Public School is at the forefront in the state when it comes to computer education, so says Judy Weaver who is in charge of the new program which is being used as an example throughout the state for this changing world. MAPS feels that computers will someday be so commonplace that they want to start educating school children early on to be familiar with the machines. Weaver stated numerous school districts have come calling to find out how Merrill’s three year old program is going. In the future MAPS envisions setting up a system where computers will be able to talk to each other from one MAPS building to another and possibly even access library material. In other school news, the board of education approved a 35% increase in health insurance rates for staff. The district will now pay $202 per family and $79 per individual for health insurance.
In sports: The Merrill Blue Jay boys’ basketball team held on to defeat the D.C. Everest Evergreens last week in the field house 45-41. John Pruss scored 14 points with Tim Pfaff adding 11. On Tuesday the Jays were defeated on the road by Wisconsin Rapids 51-37 with Jerry Sazama scoring 14 points in that contest. Merrill now travels to Wausau West this Thursday for the last regular game of the season. The girls’ basketball team is undefeated in conference play this season after defeating D.C. Everest last Friday 49-39. Gena Rusch led the team with 17 points. Merrill will host the WIAA regional tournament this weekend after taking on Wausau West this Thursday night in the field house. On the mats Wisconsin Rapids once again defeated Merrill in the WIAA sectional team tournament, but five Blue Jay grapplers are headed to the barn in Madison for the state tournament. Junior Joe Ramsey is making his second trip; he placed fourth last year. Seniors Andy Lehman, Tom Weix and Laverne Voight, who is 31-0 on the season, also head south. Coach Roger Wendorf leads the team.
It’s time to do some bragging about Merrill and the growth around town in the annual “Update” section in which local progress of businesses and other expanding buildings is noted. Featured stores and ads include: Stokely USA is proud they have had record sales thanks in part to the cannery at Merrill; the local shop employed 300 people this past season. Robbie Johnson and his Johnson Pharmacy is celebrating their second year of operation on Merrill’s west side. Woodchip Corporation on Merrill’s west side began behind the west side fire station in 1975 and now in 1987, 11 people staff the facility on South State Street where more than 400 cords of wood can be chipped in one day. Owner Stuart Smith announced he plans on building a second facility in Marshfield after signing a contract with Weyerheuser. Fran Warchala is expanding his satellite sales, noting that the average cable system offers 15-20 channels while his satellite dishes can offer up to 200. He hopes to expand into more video services and repairs out of his East Main Street shop. Bondshire Credit Union has now expanded with a computer. Manager Wendy Flemal notes the computer now keeps all accounts up to date within seconds of transactions. Hapke’s IGA in Merrill’s Sixth Ward has added a video section. Lincoln Wood is bragging they are the first company in the millwork industry to have a computer controlled tenoner at their 3rd Street plant. Lincoln Wood started out with two employees but now boasts 200 and owners Jane and Carl Bierman foresee a second shift coming soon to keep up with demand. WPS will leave their 2nd Street office and has plans for a large facility on East Main Street across from 3’s Company. Reindl Printing has added a four color Heidelburg press to their growing operation on Genesee Street. Christ Lutheran Church has completed their new building on Sales Street. The Blue Jay Arcade will soon open on Grand Avenue, Gloria Blaubach will manage the operation. Lincoln Video on Grand Avenue has expanded and now is the largest video rental place north of Madison. Five thousand tapes are in stock everyday according to owners Dan and Pat Woller. And Hardee’s on Center Avenue in Merrill has reached the $1 million dollars in annual sales mark. Manager Fred Kroll noted his restaurant employs 40 people.
The Merrill Blue Jay girls basketball team is on a roll after winning three games in a row. They head to WIAA regional action next week. The boys had back to back wins to close their regular season; they finished 4-14 on the season and host Medford on Saturday and then head to Green Bay for regional action. And Mark Burger and runner up Matt Henkelman will head to Madison for the WIAA State Wrestling tournament starting tomorrow after the sectional tournament in Rice Lake.