Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
The Merrill Senior High School football team and the City of Merrill have much to celebrate as the local team has a share of the Wisconsin Valley Football Conference Championship, the first such title since 1954. In order to grab hold of the championship Merrill had to do something it hasn’t done since 1964, defeat the Antigo Red Robins. Merrill claimed their share of the title with the Stevens Point Panthers who now heads off to playoff action against Neenah this weekend. This is the third most recent title for Merrill since 1924. A grand celebration was held Monday evening in the East Gym sponsored by the Merrill Blue Jay booster club. Members of the Silver M Club along with school administrators lauded the efforts of the boys along with their coach Ira Rebella. Merrill knocked off Antigo on their home turf with two touchdowns and a surprise two point conversion. Antigo tried a similar surprise conversion in the third quarter but the visiting Jays swarmed the ball carrier and Antigo fell short in what would become a 15-14 victory. Merrill’s defense was certainly a huge factor in the win holding the Red Robins to just 13 pass plays and sacking the quarterback four times. The Silver M award banquet will be held Monday.
In news briefs: 18-year-old Donald Ashby was killed Sunday in a traffic crash outside of Gleason. Ashby was driving a vehicle on County Rd. J when he apparently fell asleep. His passenger and brother Scott is in satisfactory condition at Wausau North Hospital. The Lincoln County Board has donated $20,000 to the Lincoln County Humane Society in anticipation that a new shelter will be built soon at Merrill. The board also designated $225,000 for the purchase of the Assembly of God Church on 8th Street for what is anticipated to be used as future county office space. Bishop Vernon Anderson will be in Merrill this Sunday for the installation of the new pastor at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. Rev. John F. Henning will be officially installed at both services Sunday followed by a pot luck dinner at noon. Bob Nafe, along with his wife Linda and two sons; are also being welcomed to town; Bob will be the manager of the Gibson Discount Store. As a sure sign that fall is here and hunting is right around the corner, Caylor’s Corners has their first hunting cartoon of the season. Sorel boots are only $20, wool pants are $16, and union suits are $6.99; in the cartoon the shack is being prepared for the season. You can now apply to receive personalized license plates in Wisconsin. Sort of. Wisconsin will start issuing the plates on Jan. 1, 1979, but you cannot start applying for those special plates until July 1, 1978. The plates will cost you an extra $10 per year.
A former mayor and area industrialist has died. Donald E. Semling passed away Friday, Oct. 30, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield. The son of the late Emil and Mae Semling was a Merrill city alderman from 1948 to 1950 and then the mayor from 1950 to 1952. He was involved in the Republican Party of Lincoln County and was a delegate to the 1980 convention when President Reagan was nominated by the party. He was the former president of Wisconsin Window Unit, now known as Hurd Manufacturing and founder of R.O.W. Cash and Carry and Wis-Win Buildings. He was president of Northern Specialty and was a board member and vice president of Semling-Menke Co. Semling had a strong history of community involvement and received many awards. He was a well-known promoter of baseball and received the Earle Kidd Award for youth baseball presented by the Wisconsin State Semi-Pro Baseball Commission. Semling was also a member of the Merrill on the Move Hall of Fame. Funeral services were held yesterday at St. Robert’s Catholic Church and he was laid to rest at the church cemetery.
Another long time business owner Angeline Heckendorf has also died. Angie owned Elmer’s Tap on Merrill’s east side with her late husband Elmer; now run by her son the tavern is known as Raoul’s. Prior to her involvement in the tavern she worked at Weinbrenner Shoe Company in Merrill. Her services were Monday at St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ, she was buried at Merrill Memorial Park.
Merrill Blue Jay wrestling coach Roger Wendorf has been recognized by his peers as Coach of the Year in district two. District two is made up of most schools in the area including all in the Valley Conference.
Are you ready for the Lutefisk? The 97-year-old tradition of the Lutefisk supper will be repeated tomorrow at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. Lutefisk is a fish soaked in lye and served with Swedish meatballs, lefse, krumkake rosettas and other traditional side dishes. Over 700 are served yearly at the event which dates back to 1890.
Look for taxes to go up as spending and debt reduction add on to both the county and city tax levies for next year. City Finance Director Bruce Redlin is still working on final numbers but he forecasts the city will spend $2.7 million in 1998 while collecting $2.2 million in taxes. Redlin acknowledged that revenues are much lower than expected including only $80,000 collected from the expected $300,000 for this year’s MARC Center pledges leaving the shortfall to the taxpayers. The new municipal court was also expected to generate an additional $50,000 which never materialized. The county taxes will increase an estimated 11%. Leaders on the County Board point out that the equalized value also increased 11% this past year. The county is waiting on final numbers from revenue sharing and income from timber sales which finances the county Forest Land and Parks department.
In a letter to the editor Alderman Kurt Helmstadter of the third district expressed his frustration with his fellow council members not listening to the voters’ wishes. Helmstadter is responding to a recent editorial by Foto News Publisher Jim O’Day who is worried about the long term cost to the taxpayers of the new MARC Center, the new water department headquarters on River Street and the proposed expansion of the T.B. Scott Library. O’Day expressed his concern for the “pay-back ability of Merrill’s citizens over all these projects” which he titles a public building syndrome. Helmstadter explained he polled the residents of his ward and although most support the concept of the new library, 79% would like the voters to decide on the matter at the polling booth. An attempt by Helmstadter to send the measure to a binding referendum was defeated on the council floor by a 5-3 margin. The projected cost of the expanded T.B. Scott Library is $3 million.
Two law enforcement officers in the county were recognized for their quick action in saving youths who became trapped in a pile of wood chips at the Chipper Factory on South State Street. Trooper William Schmidt from the Wisconsin State Patrol and Deputy Grant Peterson responded to the call with Merrill police and firemen who dug through the 15-foot high pile of chips looking for the three teenagers who were trapped when the pile of wood chips they were playing on collapsed. One of the youths was trapped for an estimated 15 minutes before he was freed.