Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
Two dramatic high speed chases led to two vehicle crashes but no injuries this past week. On Monday, shortly after a report of a stolen vehicle was received, Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Pickett spotted the 1972 Oldsmobile heading south on Hwy. 51 and began pursuing the vehicle. The chase reached speeds of 90 MPH before a rolling roadblock manned by Deputy Peter Annis and Merrill Policeman Ned Seubert caused the car to leave the road and crash. It turns out the occupants of the stolen car were 14-year-old runaways from Rhinelander. They were returned back to that county that evening, neither of them reporting any injury following the chase. On Friday evening Sgt. Pickett was patrolling on US Hwy. 8 when he tried to stop a vehicle; the vehicle fled and at one time speeds topped 118 MPH. Pickett called for help from Oneida County deputies and the State Patrol, but when Pickett was forced to slow to avoid hitting a slow moving State Patrol cruiser, his patrol car left the roadway and crashed between two trees. Sherriff Ron Krueger stated that Pickett was traveling at 100 MPH when he left the roadway. Chairman of the Law Enforcement Committee Dick Baumgart has called an inquiry into Friday’s incident at 1:30 p.m. today. In other law enforcement news, Sheriff Krueger has been granted a leave of absence so he can attend the FBI Academy in Virginia starting in April. Krueger will continue to serve as the sheriff until he leaves to be a part of the 109th session of the famed academy. Chief Deputy Harvey Woodward will head the agency during Krueger’s absence which should last 11 weeks.
Residents of the Sixth Ward are upset about plans by the Park and Rec Committee to stop staffing life guards at Ott’s Park during the summer. Bert Strassman, Henry Golde, Mort Sukow and Leroy Fischer all spoke in opposition to the plans to cut $1,200 from the budget by eliminating the guards. Board member and alderwoman Anita Gebert spoke in favor of the cut, noting that in her opinion the river bottom at that location is unstable and dark, the water is dark colored, and with the current and hard to define swimming area, Ott’s Park is unsafe to swim. Parks’ Superintendent Dennis Donohue noted the beach was staffed daily with a lifeguard from 1-5 p.m. but most families arrived as the guard was leaving for the day. The board also considered application blanks for the city pool, residents can buy a season pass for $7 for children, $10 for adults, and $25 for families. Once the membership is purchased you will be given a patch to sew on your bathing suit to identify you as a season pass holder.
The Merrill Blue Jay girls’ basketball team did not do much to impress this season, finishing the season 2-7, and when Wausau East came calling for regional tournament play they probably expected to make quick work of the local team. But a fired up second half of the contest found the Blue Jay girls on top 59-51 when the final buzzer sounded. Coach Jean Mader is impressed with the girls’ play which included a win over Medford on Saturday 37-25. The girls next play in sectional action against New Richmond on Friday at Wausau West. The boys play tomorrow night in the East Gym taking on Wausau East. In Madison the Merrill Blue Jay wrestling team was not as lucky. All four boys representing the local Jays fell early in matches. John Fehlberg and his undefeated record were knocked out in the quarter final match when he suffered a knee injury.
Marathon County Sheriff Leroy Schillinger and his deputies are working feverishly to find those responsible for the deaths of two Hamburg residents slain in their home over the weekend. The couple was found in their home Sunday afternoon but it is believed that the murders took place on Saturday evening. The Wisconsin State Crime Lab has joined the investigation into the crime which Sheriff Schillinger believes was motivated by robbery. Schillinger described the crime scene and called the slayings brutal. In an obituary on page four, the couple, identified as Edward and Ruth Langbecker, will be buried from St. Matthew’s Church in Marathon this Friday.
In area news briefs: Multiple citizens complained to the Lincoln County Solid Waste Committee that they do not want the new landfill access road to be Wayside Drive. The road that will gain access to the Town of Birch landfill will cost the county $980,000 to build, and now supervisors are looking at going off of Spring Lake Road to gain the needed access. The union representing workers at Northern Wire have filed a complaint charging the company with 20 unfair labor violations in the wake of the two-month strike at the Taylor Street facility. The union was hoping the remaining workers who were laid off after the strike ended would return to work on Monday, but a company attorney stated that has not happened. A hearing on the complaint is set for May. Ed Livingston has been elected president of the T.B. Scott Library Board; the Lake Pesobic resident has served on that board since 1974. Dr. Tom Strick of MAPS is calling on the teachers’ union to give in to some concessions when it comes to the next contract on which negotiations begin soon. Strick noted the 35% increase in health insurance premiums in the past year. Lead negotiator and Junior High teacher, Mike Van Lieshout, stated that the union is looking for a 19% pay increase during the first year of the contract and 12% the second year.
Merrill Senior High School is now home to two more State Champions after the WIAA State Wrestling Tournament wrapped up in Madison this weekend. Joe Ramsey at 105 pounds and Laverne Voigt at 185 pounds both won individual championships, the first state champs from Merrill since 1981 and the first time ever that the school boasted double state champs in one year. Tom Weix wrestled into the finals but suffered a loss at the hands of two-time state champion John Harms of Baraboo. Craig Josiger and Andy Lehman each placed sixth for the Jays. The girls’ basketball team made quick work of two Wausau teams at regionals this week. They defeated Wausau East Saturday 75-36 and then Wausau West 49-29. The girls will now travel to Wausau West for a sectional game on Thursday. The boys’ team fell quickly in their final regular season game against Wausau West 70-42. The Jays will now face West again this Friday for a regional tournament game.
It must be spring as the Dairy Queen is open for the season. In an ad the first special of the season is a peanut buster parfait for just $1.39.
The Merrill Blue Jay girls’ basketball team saw their season come to an end Saturday at the hands of the Rhinelander Hodags. Merrill defeated Green Bay East in regional action but then lost to the Hodags. Both teams came into the contest with 6-10 Valley records. Coach Bob Yuska stated that Rhinelander going 10 for 10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter was the dagger on the game. The boys played close games but fell to both Everest and Wisconsin Rapids this past week. They take on Medford in regional play this weekend. Coach Roger Wendorf is proud of his two juniors that traveled to Madison this past week. Both Mark Burger and Matt Henkelman wrestled strong but fell at the individual state tournament.