Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
A rural Merrill man has died in a traffic crash in Marathon County. Walter Zander, age 18 of Route 1, Merrill, died from injuries sustained in the crash on County Rd. K in the Town of Maine. He was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by a 16-year-old Wausau boy when he slowed at Decator Drive; he is the son of Betty Zander also of Merrill. A Merrill home suffered fire and smoke damage after a blaze Sunday afternoon. Firefighters were called to the George Diagostine home on Scott Street after Diagostine discovered the blaze at around 2 p.m. Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire. Diagostine and his wife Jeannal along with their two children were able to safely evacuate the home.
In news briefs: Tom Tepper will manage the Merrill Golf Club. The local man has been hired to manage the facility for the next year with his responsibilities including maintaining the club’s building and grounds. The announcement came at the same time the expansion project at MGC was announced. A native of Elgin, IL, Tepper has been in the city for the last four years after graduating from UW La Crosse. (He may no longer be able to help you with your swing, but he can help you with your hearing deficit at the Wausau Sam’s Club.) Ardis Woller has been recognized for her work at Hinz’s Cork and Dyne. This Monday marked her 21st year as head cook at the Merrill eatery. She was originally hired as a part-time dishwasher but by the third day had taken over the cooking duties. The Prom King for this year’s Junior Prom is Dan Jackson who will escort Queen Jenny Wendt. The theme this year is “Need You.” Music will be played by the Rhythm Masters. Mark “Jack” Frost has been named Service Manager at Sharon Chevrolet. Previously he worked at Dan Jacob’s Buick in Waukesha; he brings to town his wife Jacqueline and children Michael and Deborah.
The Bonnell brothers think they are doing things right. The pair, who have owned the Red Owl Store in Merrill’s mid-city since July of 1975, announced plans to expand the business. Storage space in the back and a bakery will now be located inside of the store where customers will also find new refrigeration cases. The front of the store will feature a brick exterior on each side of the new entrances. Dave Bonnell worked as the meat manager for more than 10 years prior to purchasing the business. Dick Bonnell formerly worked for the telephone company in Des Plaines, IL until making this his first leap into the retail scene. In a story on the adjoining page, John Eckman, manager of Bob’s Food King, is pictured accepting the United Grocers Merchandising Award for the second time in the past three years. The award is given to stores based on cleanliness, merchandising techniques, quality controls and store initiatives.
Should the State of Wisconsin allow a lottery and/or pari-mutuel betting in the state? That is the question facing voters a week from Tuesday when they go to the polls. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that pari-mutuel betting, such as betting on horse or dog racing, could produce $5 million per year while a lottery could produce $52 to $59 million per year in revenue which would be used for property tax relief. Opponents say not only will expanded gambling be dangerous but the profits as compared to costs would not be worth it. Voters will decide on April 7.
Something that will add on to your taxes starts next Wednesday as Lincoln County implements a 0.5% sales tax county wide. Losses in federal shared revenue prompted the Wisconsin Legislature to change a loophole in a law that prevented the counties in Wisconsin from taking a portion of the sales tax. Lincoln County Board members stated not only the loss of federal money but the loss in equalized property value left them with no choice but to impose the tax. Lincoln County is one of 12 counties that have adopted the tax; six others have rejected attempts to impose it.
Wisconsin Public Service will have a change in local leadership as Don Koll, the longtime district manager, retires. Since Koll has taken over as manager in 1964 WPS has seen a 70% increase in customers. Currently 8,530 electric and 3,632 gas customers receive services from WPS locally. Taking over for Koll is Robert Akey who was the commercial and marketing rep for WPS in Wausau. Akey has worked for WPS since 1962; he is a graduate of Merrill Senior High School.
The Rev. John McClelland has died. Pastor McClelland led the congregation at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Irma from 1969 until 1986 when he retired to the Green Bay area. Prior to coming to Irma, Rev. McClelland served in the United States Air Force during WWII and was ordained a Lutheran Minister for the Missouri Synod. Pastor McClelland was brought back to Irma where a service was held at St. Paul’s and he was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery, Rock Falls. Reverends Perry Barner and Donald Schulz officiated at that service; he is survived by his wife Macie of Seymour.
After two nights of debate and numerous speakers on both sides, the MAPS School Board has voted to begin all-day kindergarten in most district schools. Midway School in Gleason has had a pilot program of the all-day format for the last two years and board members felt this could be continued throughout the district. The measure passed by the board calls for the format to begin at Washington, Lincoln and Pine River schools in the 1997-1998 school year; the classes at Maple Grove will be kept to half days due to space constraints. Four teachers will be hired for the program at a cost to MAPS of $200,000 per year.
Lincoln County will increase the base rate for ambulance transports in the county beginning next week. County Clerk Robert Kunkel reports the change will help keep the system running in the black. The charges for county residents will be $200 plus mileage and supplies and $350 for non-residents with the additional mileage and supply charges as well. (A ride now will cost you a minimum of $800 or as much as $875 depending on the level of care, not counting mileage and supplies; “the tourist/out of town” rate has gone away as well)
Some tired soles finally have some rest as eight long time employees of Weinbrenner Shoe Company have called it a career. Combined the group has 351 years of service, averaging 44 years a person. Dick Cherwenka earned the senior spot with his 54 years at the company. Others honored included Esther Steidtman, Jim Seis, Irma Stine, Jack Holl, and Bill Weber along with Patricia Boers and Arlene Kuhn of the Marshfield plant.