Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
Chaos has erupted at Lincoln Hills School in Irma as 80 employees have walked off the job. The work action affects counselors, food service personnel, maintenance workers, and some social workers. The facility in the Town of Birch is not the only one involved in this action as nearly 23,000 workers across the state have walked off of jobs in correctional institutes. Sheriff Ron Krueger stated he immediately sent 10 deputies to the facility in order to maintain order. As of Monday morning the Wisconsin Department of Corrections identified 130 students they considered low risk and released them to their parents. That leaves 130 students in the facility’s 12 cottages. National Guardsman from the 632nd Armor-Wausau unit have now deployed to the facility and have taken over security. A total of 90 troops were expected to arrive on the campus with 35 on the day shift and 20 on the night shift as a deputy from Lincoln County remains in place. Deputies are also busy looking for four students who ran from the facility during the confusion. Workers walking the picket lines have informed local media that the main reason behind the action is what they consider unfair wages, cost of living adjustments, no lay off provisions, and fringe benefits. It is the first time in 45 years that the union has struck for higher wages.
We just got done with the Fourth of July and the Central Labor Council is already talking about Labor Day. In an ad on the Entertainment page the group is seeking candidates for Labor Day Princess. Girls must be between 14 and 19 years of age and must either be part of a local union or a member of a household that belongs to a union. Contestants will then sell buttons to the activities on Labor Day with the top button seller getting 15% of total button sales, a $50 savings bond, and the honor of being crowned Labor Day Princess. If you buy a button from a contestant you will be able to receive admission to both of the dances that weekend as well as the drum and bugle competition at the fairgrounds. Contact Judy Kautz, Mary Ann Duframe or Annette Evenson if you are interested.
Who is the best baker in the county? Selma Kautz according to a panel of judges. They selected Selma’s sour cream coffee cake as the best in the county during a recent bake off. Kautz will now head to competition at the state level. She credits her now awarding winning entry to a recipe she found in Wisconsin Farmer magazine. The hint to top off the sweet treat is serving it with cheddar or muenster cheese.
The best fireworks this 4th of July were provided by the Merrill Giants as they defeated Abbotsford 8-0 for the Wisconsin Baseball Congress district championship tournament. The Giants are the defending state champions. The Giants now advance to the state finals of the WBC tournament which opens in Madison this weekend. Mark Simon pitched the team to victory in the tournament and he was named MVP. Simon pitched a total of 16 innings during the tournament giving up one run on four hits while striking out 29 and waking only two. The Giants’ roster was bolstered by Steve and Roger Wendorf who were drafted from the Henrichs Club and Tim DeBels who came from Harrison.
The Merrill Area Board of Education is returning $20,000 to the taxpayers as the result of restructuring of the debt and other cost savings. The BOE resold notes on its debt at a lower rate of interest in order to save the money. The BOE is finalizing its budget for the next two school years and anticipates an increase of 6.8%, with 4.4% of that being reflected as a tax increase. Junior High School Principal Strand Wedul is lobbying the board to add an “At Risk” program for the junior high. Wedul recognizes the budget crunch that MAPS is in, but he sees the strong need for such a program explaining students are not graduating for a long list of reasons, but it starts as early as the K-3 level and needs to be addressed early. John Greenwood, school psychologist, is working with Wedul in developing the program.
The proposed new Lincoln County landfill has hit yet another snag as the county and the Town of Merrill have failed to reach an agreement on the access road to the proposed site. The county wants to use Spring Lake Road while the town wants to use Wayside Drive. According to estimates from the engineering consultant the first will cost $980,000 while the Wayside Drive development would cost $1,250,000. The county does not want to spend over a quarter million dollars more on the road, according to Bob Reichelt, solid waste manager, but the town is not budging on their demands. Another meeting has been set for August but for now the new landfill remains stalled.
The report on a car crash in the Town of Bradley back in June is now in front of Lincoln County District Attorney Steve Robinson and he anticipates charging the driver with three counts of homicide. According to Robinson a blood test taken at Howard Young Medical Center after the crash revealed the driver had a blood alcohol level of .25. Three young people from Tomahawk lost their lives in the crash that evening on County Rd. E near County Rd. O.
When people in Merrill think of clean, comfortable, modern dining they think of Club Modern. So says Steve and Linda Blake who are celebrating 20 years in business at the long established restaurant on the south side of Town. Linda recalls that when they bought the business three lobster tails were $3.75 and cut of prime rib was $2.95. A tap beer was .20 and a cocktail was .60. The Blakes have completely redone the interior of the building since they bought it and look forward to serving customers for years to come.
There is a new chief deputy sheriff in town. Mike Soucy was appointed to the position of chief deputy this past month to take the place of Robert Lee who retired. Soucy joined the local force in 1973 after coming from the Madison area. He was the county’s first DARE officer and the former leader of the SWAT team. Soucy was appointed to the position by Sheriff Paul Proulx.
The fair starts next week Wednesday so start making your plans. In the grandstand this year you will find a horse show, the music of the Fantastic Convertibles, the local Barbershop Quartet on Thursday, truck and tractor pulls on Saturday, and the demo derbies on Sunday. Admission, as always, is free.
The letters from both sides continue to fill the opinion pages regarding unionization at Walmart. That vote is set for early August.