Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
After 88 years the City of Merrill is getting a new permanent address as city hall moves three blocks to the east. The city purchased the Church Mutual building after the insurance company announced plans to build a new state of the art facility on Merrill’s east side. Church Mutual moved out of the building late this summer and the city has been busy remodeling the building to suit their needs. On Friday city hall will be closed as all agencies are moved to 1104 E. 1st St. The Police Department phones will be answered during the time the move takes place but counter service may be briefly disrupted as the agency takes up its new space. If you wish to have the Merrill Go ‘Round pick you up on Friday you may be better served by calling and making your request on Thursday. Those wishing to do business in the new city hall will find it fully functioning starting Monday morning. A 15 minute parking area is on the east end of the building or you may park in front in a metered stall. Those who wish to do business at the police department should use the First Street entrance on nights and weekends. The bus stop in front of the current city hall will be moved to the new building in the coming weeks.
Nomination papers can be circulated for all city offices. Currently the follow candidates have announced their intentions: Jean Rogers, currently the alderman of the 8th ward has announced she will seek the county board seat in the same district. Carolyn Meyers has announced she will seek to retain the 9th district seat on the county board which serves ward two in the city of Merrill. City Attorney William A. Wulf has announced he will not seek re-election to that post; Wulf indicates his private practice with the Sazama-Wulf Law Firm has grown to the point he cannot fulfill both commitments. Patrick Nugent, who serves as the alderman of the 5th ward in the City of Merrill, has announced he will not seek that position come spring; he has served as the representative of that district the past four years.
In other local news briefs: A rural Gleason man was killed Monday morning in a crash north of here. Wayne W. Schram was traveling south when he collided with a vehicle being driven by a Rhinelander man. Schram later died at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander. AAA is urging motorists to watch where you purchase your gasoline as prices are higher now at some stations for unleaded fuel. Motorists are reporting on average some self-service island pumps have increased 3.4 cents bringing fuel costs to record levels. On average gasoline costs 58.2 cents per gallon for regular and 61.6 cents for unleaded. A tour of some Milwaukee stations has shown a nine cent price difference from one side of town to another. The rural Merrill man charged with the attempted rape in Wausau will likely now face a rape charge locally. Merrill Police indicated they will charge the man with rape for an incident that occurred this past summer. Richard Holt of the local American Family Insurance office in Merrill has been named president of the Merrill chamber. Jim Bares remains as the vice-president of the organization while Wayne Smith of WJMT radio will be vice-president of financial operations. The State of Wisconsin will begin issuing new license plates on Jan. 1. The new plates will be a switch from the traditional red plate design as the state switches to a yellow background with black letters, something they feel will make the plates more visible at night.
The Merrill Chamber has welcomed the new owners of the Cork and Dyne in Merrill. Max and Barb Gordon will now operate Sturdevant’s Cork and Dyne; Kris Gordon will manage the establishment.
The Merrill Area Public Schools is potentially looking at costly removal for asbestos in their buildings based on new standards by the EPA. Superintendent Thomas Strick advised they know of the asbestos in the buildings, but it is all encapsulated and poses no risk at this time. However, due to new standards set forth by the EPA Bob Opsahl and Greg Kautza will now develop an action plan for the potential future removal of the cancer causing material.
City Hall is sending you a Christmas card but don’t expect any good cheer inside. The city tax bills have been tabulated and residents are looking at a 7.3% increase over last year as the city increases spending by more than half a million dollars. The amount of taxes are also increased due to an increase in the equalized value city residents will now pay a higher percentage of the area school and county taxes as compared to their rural counterparts. Another thing that will add onto the burden for taxpayers is a mandatory reassessment of property due to the differences between the state’s assessment and that of the city assessor with an 8% difference between the two assessments. The county is making a move to purchase the former Lincoln School property across from the jail and court house. According to county administrator John Mulder the board will likely decide the direction it intends to go in placing the proposed new jail and justice center. Lincoln School will become vacant when Kate Goodrich School opens on the city’s west side this fall. The county has also approved the installation of video equipment between the jail and court house to allow prisoners to appear via camera. The move was made in the wake of an escape a prisoner made while being escorted between the two buildings.
The ballot for the spring election is starting to take shape on the city level while on the county side not much movement has been noted. So far Mayor Patsy Woller has no competition while others have filed or declared themselves as candidates against City Clerk Judith Stockowitz and Street Commissioner Ralph Sturm. Susan Kunkel, alderman of the first ward, has filed for both that office and that of the city clerk. Gary Schuster, a resident of the Town of Merrill, has declared his candidacy for that office as has the incumbent Stockowitz. A legal clarification is being sought as to when Schuster needs to establish residency to run for that position. Jason Hommerding has declared candidacy for street commissioner, but neither he or Sturm have filed papers for that position. Merle J. Sheridan, appointed municipal court judge is on the ballot for the first time to retain that seat, and so far he is unopposed. David Welk and William Bialecki are seeking the first ward alderman spot along with Kunkel who would have to choose which job she wants if she would win both races. In the second ward Michael Willman faces a possible challenge from Scott Doerr while in the fourth ward Floyd Korpi announced he is not seeking re-election, David D’Amico and retired police inspector Thomas Schotz have both taken out papers for that spot. In the sixth ward Phil Krause, the incumbent alderman, faces a possible challenge from two declared candidates as Robert Gremler and Mark Sherfinski have declared their intent in that ward. In the seventh ward Robert Monti has declared non candidacy, and Robert Colclasure and Bryon Stimes have taken out papers there. If required, a primary will be held on Feb. 17.