Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
The new administrator of Pine Crest is on the job and just in time. Rules regarding state reimbursements required Pine Crest to have a director on board by the first part of November or risk a loss of funding. Mark Wilkom comes to Merrill from Shawano where he managed the 102 bed Maple Lane facility. Don’t expect any immediate changes from Wilkom who hopes to get his feet wet before he makes any major changes. Wilkom told the Foto News that he believes a county run nursing home should not be in business to make a profit. Wilkom feels a county run nursing home’s purpose is to provide the best they can, while hopefully breaking even. Any profit that is shown in that effort should be immediately fed back into the facility to improve the overall atmosphere for the residents. Wilkom, age 27, and his wife Pat relocated to the area last week.
When Richard VanDerGeest starts a project he aims to finish it, it just might take a while. After seven years, yards of Irish linen, and 15 coats of aircraft dope VanDerGeest has finished his Hatz CB-1. The Hatz plane was designed in the 1930s by John Hatz of Gleason. VanDerGeest, who started flying in 1948 while serving in the armed forces, wanted one after flying one in the late 1960s so he decided to build his own. The CB-1 is a two seat open cockpit bi-wing plane. It weighs over 1,000 pounds and carries up to 38 gallons of fuel which will allow it to fly up to four and a half hours before having to refuel. It cruises at over 110 MPH. When VanDerGeest first got the kit he spent one night a week working on the plane’s construction. After five years the plane started to take shape and his enthusiasm grew so he upped it to two days a week. The fuselage is made of aircraft metal tubing, the wings of aircraft spruce wood. The entire frame is covered with Irish linen and finished with the 15 coats of aircraft dope, followed by one layer of colored dope. The Hatz CB-1 kit is produced in a factory in Kentucky who bought rights to the plane; over 80 of the kits have been sold but only five are known to be flying. VanDerGeest will next log 50 hours of flying in the aircraft at which point the FAA will conduct a second inspection. If that is passed VanDerGeest will begin carrying passengers.
The Lady Jays’ Volleyball team is headed to state. The girls will board a bus Friday headed to the Kolf Sport Center on the UW Oshkosh campus where they will take their 12-2 record up against Neenah. Members of the team include Mary Donner, Sheryl Heller, Renea Marquardt, Sue Natzke, Anne Weber, Denise Simon, Kerry Zortman, Sheryl Zomchek, Tammy Bondioli, Cindy Zomchek, Ruth Imhoff and Shirley Runge. Head Coach is Natalie Tank, Assistant Coach is Mary Lucas, and the team manager is Sara Hill. The Blue Jay boys’ football team finished out their season with the annual awards banquet which was held at St. Francis gym this past week. Erik Finanger was named offensive MVP of the championship team and Dale Yorde was named the defensive MVP, the second year in a row he has won that honor.
It appears now that we have a landfill, we also have a road to get there. The negotiating team of the Lincoln County Solid Waste Landfill Committee along with the Town of Merrill have come to an agreement for what is known as Wayside/Oak Lake Road to be used as the access road to the new Town of Merrill site. The Town of Merrill did not want to use that road as the access point but agreed to the use now that the county has agreed to extend the road to Heineman Road with a comparable surface on the direct access road to the landfill itself. Glenn Hartley, legal counsel for the county, advised the group that going to arbitration as had been originally planned would have cost them more than the estimated $100,000 in paving for the road. It is expected both the county board and the town board will meet this week and vote on the compromise, and if this is done the entire plan can head to the DNR for final approval. Solid Waste Manager Bob Reichelt feels we may even be dumping trash there by next year.
The city of Merrill handed out raises to the non-union employees this past week as part of the 1988 budget, but those employees will see a 100% increase in their health insurance deductibles. Employees who are on an individual plan for city health care will see their deductible rise from $50 per year to $100. Families will be hit even harder with the deductible going from $100 to $200. (It appears city deductibles will range from $2,000 to $5,000 for 2018 according to the agenda for a budget session Monday.)
It is pretty evident the group is not meeting any more but the Merrill Historical Society is seeking out the names of about 70 women and children who were members of the Sixth Ward Ladies Union Aid. Many people were unaware of the social and religious based group which had its very own club house in the Sixth Ward. The first meetings of the group was held in the homes of the members but eventually a chapel was built on Pine Street. The group was interdenominational and did Sunday bible school along with Sunday evening services. Rev Maurice Evans and his wife Cecelia served the group first. Other pastors came and went. Depending upon what the coffers of the group held a pastor could have been paid as much as $10 for the month while some months there was no money to contribute. In 1908 the estate of Charles Hoffman left $298.12 to the group (around $7,500 today) and they promptly used the money to install lights, wood, insurance, new hymnals, and Sunday school supplies. According to the logs the light bills ranged anywhere from .35 to $1.50 per month. The building was also a social center for Sixth Ward residents and many community gatherings were held there for holidays. (The building was torn down eventually and now a home sits there, I believe the address would be 100 S. Pine.)
The Lincoln County Long Range Planning Committee sees the need, and now they have met with architects to discuss the future of the Lincoln County Jail. Currently the jail has a maximum capacity of 37 people but houses 47 on average. According to Sheriff Paul Proulx the current jail was built only 15 years ago and has not even been paid off yet it is clearly over capacity. Proulx thinks the only reason we have not been required to ship inmates to other facilities is because the jail inspector position for this region is vacant. Proulx points to booking numbers which went from 491 in 1988 to 1,072 last year. The average stay per inmate has also increased from 8.2 days to 16.2 days in that same time span. Jail planners would like to see a 72-cell pod concept which can hold what they feel will be around 160 prisoners by 2011. After digesting the info the committee also wondered what effect the treatment of those who re-offend constantly would have on our daily population. (According the county’s web site, our current 185 cell jail held on average 117 prisoners in October, 51 of whom were from other counties which pay us rent. Only 19 of the prisoners were currently working under the Huber law.)