Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
A Merrill firefighter has died in the line of duty. Thomas Beckman was killed yesterday after a fire at 310 Mill St. Beckman was off duty at the time of the fire but responded along with other off duty firemen. The home is owned by John Norris whose teenage children Michael and Patricia were inside the home sleeping when the fire broke out. Sgt. Mike Caylor and Detective Tom Schotz used a ladder from the garage to rescue the two and their dog from a garage roof they had jumped to. Beckman had just finished checking the attic when he was stricken outside of the home; he was rushed to Holy Cross Hospital where he later died. Beckman is the first Merrill fireman to die in the line of duty. A Mass of Christian Burial is being planned for Friday at St. Francis Church, and it is expected firemen from around the state will attend. Friends may call after 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Taylor Funeral Home. Beckman leaves behind his wife Polly and two young daughters. Mayor Ralph Voigt has announced all city offices will be closed until 1 p.m. on Friday in respect to Lt. Beckman.
Weinbrenner Factory Shoe Store will be opening a brand new retail store outside of the city limits. Donald and Gerald Whitburn announced plans to build the new commercial building on Pine Ridge Avenue between the Best Western Motel and the Pine Ridge Restaurant. The new site is located just west of the US Hwy. 51 bypass in the Town of Pine River. Weinbrenner will lease the store from the Whitburns, and according to Weinbrenner president James Greenlee it is expected the highway to provide a better opportunity to serve both residents and people traveling through the area. Weinbrenner is a division of Bata Shoe Organization and employs about 600 people at their Merrill factory. (Subway now)
A fourth person has stepped forward with his intentions to run for mayor; Patrick Nugent of Chippewa Street in Merrill and current alderman of the fifth district is joining the group of three seeking to unseat long serving mayor Ralph Voigt. In announcing his bid Nugent criticized the costly growth of city government and the taxpayers’ inability to keep up with the costs. Nugent noted the city’s population has not grown over the last few years but the government has. Nugent currently sits on the Police and Fire Commission and has previously served as chairman of the Lincoln County Board. Retired educator Robert St. Clair has announced he is running for the MAPS School Board. The World War II veteran is a former industrial arts teacher in Merrill, Burlington, IA and Tehran, Iran. The 9th district of the county board in the city will need a new rep as Floyd Lemon has announced he will not seek the seat this spring. He has served one term on the board and wishes to focus on his business.
Frigid temperatures and arctic winds have been keeping residents bundled up for the past week. Renee Johnson is on page one all bundled up as she makes her way to school. The cold temps are expected to give way to some warmer air in the coming days but along with that will come snow. A picture on page two shows Merrill firemen working through clouds of smoke and steam as they fight a fire at the South State Street Lincoln Wood factory. The attic fire was believed to be caused by electrical issues.
Brad Buffington was the last baby of the year for 1987. He is shown with mom Cindy and siblings Miranda and Ben on page two; mom and father Jerry are residents of Pine River. Right below is the newest baby in town for the New Year; Emily Sue Peterson and her parents Tawney and Dawn are from Mosinee, but she is the first baby born at Good Samaritan Health Center this year. She is pictured with her parents and siblings Jessica and Christopher.
Nomination papers have been filed and Merrill will see a race for mayor this spring as incumbent Richard Holt will be challenged by retired businessman Ken Sparr. In the first ward incumbent Alderman Cheryl Kanitz will face off with Ray Kulawinksi, while in the seventh ward Paul Proulx will challenge Robert Monti. On the county board district nine will see a race between Phil Schneider and incumbents William Hommerding and Art Schaefer who will all vie for the dual position. Richard Bloomquist will run against Jane Annis in the 12th district. And in the city of Tomahawk district 16 will see a race between incumbent George Griffin, Erv Leverenz, and Don Jante while in the third ward Don Daenicke faces a challenge from City of Tomahawk Clerk Paul Garner. Three seats are up for grabs on the MAPS School Board where Tom Wardell, Les Voigt and Bruce Severt are all incumbents looking to retain their seats while newcomers Bill Johnston and Pauline Krueger are seeking to unseat them.
Warm air from the Gulf of Mexico continues to funnel up into Wisconsin and rain has been the main source of precipitation the past few weeks. Temperatures continue to hover around or above the freezing mark and northern Wisconsin has no snow to speak of. Those who need to shovel snow are not complaining, but merchants who rely on tourist dollars are suffering. There could be some relief in sight as a chance of snow is possible by Friday.
A race reporter D. W. Pfister describes as “potentially one of the most spirited in decades” is shaping up for the seat of mayor in Merrill. Longtime police Lt. Michael Caylor will challenge incumbent Mayor Patsy Woller who has held the seat since 1992. Woller owns the Grandstand ice cream stand on the west side and is a salesperson for the Foto News. Caylor, known as “Loopy” in his family filled with nicknames (among other things), will have to retire his police force role if elected. Pfister notes that morale amongst city employees is low, and a low general fund could be factors in the contest.
In a feature store Bob McElroy tells of his newly revamped Mulligans Supper Club. McElroy opened the dining facility located at the Merrill Golf Club in July of this year and his menu keeps bringing customers back despite the fact golf isn’t being played next door. McElroy tells of his signature dish which is baby back ribs with all the sauces being made from scratch. A separate 200 seat dining room is also beginning to attract customers for banquets and other functions. Looking for a job? Check out the employment page which offers the following opportunities: Thelma’s is seeking sales clerks and seamstresses, Good Samaritan needs housekeeping and maintenance staff, Tace Bell is looking to hire crew members and closers, McDonald’s is looking for help in the morning, Northern Wire needs a lead person, Club Modern needs a waitress, ITC is looking for a parts person, Bell Tower and Williams House both need CNA’S, the Foto News needs a salesperson, Marshfield Clinic needs a lab tech, and as they always are Fox Point is hiring sewing machine operators.