Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
Nearly 175 people paid tribute to firefighter Thomas Beckman last Friday at his service at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. Among the group were 72 representatives from fire and police departments throughout northcentral Wisconsin along with public officials. Beckman died on Jan. 3 after a house fire on Mill Street. He was the first Merrill firemen to lose his life in the line of duty. Police and firefighters formed a honor guard at the church and at services at St. Francis Catholic Cemetery. A fire truck and squad cars joined in the procession to the interment.
The upcoming spring election continues to dominate the local news and a primary for the mayor’s post is now on the horizon. A petition with 505 signatures was delivered to City Clerk Robert Klug on Monday requesting the primary. Dick Baumgart, a member of the Lincoln County Board, led the petition drive. Currently five candidates are seeking the post: incumbent Ralph “Fata” Voigt, Henry Golde, David Moravec, Patrick Nugent and Gerald Bauer. City Clerk Klug also announced this week that no one has filed papers to run in the city’s fourth or fifth wards.
The state jail inspector has put the Lincoln County Board on notice to either drastically improve conditions at the jail or face its closure. Overcrowded and outdated were the main themes of the report which cited malfunctioning locks, beds not bolted down, non-working light fixtures, no vestibule and no receiving cell. The report also states that the prisoners are improperly segregated and this may lead to the county being limited to only holding female prisoners. Members of the county board were hesitant to make any immediate decisions on the matter but they did come up with three alternatives, shipping prisoners to other county jails, expanding and updating the present facility, or building a new jail.
The Merrill Common Council met last evening and discussed several public works projects in the near future. Soon residents abutting projects will receive notices from the city on the special assessments that will be placed upon them. Council members also heard the first reading of an ordinance which would require permits for all alarm users and those with multiple false alarms could face fines. The purpose of the ordinance is to give the police a more efficient and uniform alarm system in the city. Those whose alarm system transmits more than four false alarms per year will be charged $25 per alarm with a sixth alarm and above costing $50. The council also approved a raise for whoever is elected mayor in spring. The position will now pay $16,480 along with $1,800 car allowance and full health insurance premiums. Pay for alderman will go up to $260 per month as long as they attend their scheduled meetings and the monthly council meeting. Aldermen are not eligible for fringe benefits.
A Merrill dentist whose practice spanned 62 years has died. Dr. Eugene A. Krembs, 87, died last Wednesday at Good Samaritan Health Center. Dr. E.A. Krembs was born in Stevens Point in 1900 and moved to Merrill in 1909. After graduating from Merrill Senior High he attended Marquette Dental School, graduating in 1924. In the early years Dr. Krembs had his dental office above the Cosmo Theatre before moving the practice to 213 E. 2nd St. in 1968. His son Dr. Thomas Krembs joined him in his practice, and for a time he had a satellite office in Gleason. Besides his dental work Dr. Krembs was very active in the Knights of Columbus having served as grand knight of the Merrill Council and state deputy of the Wisconsin State Council. During his tenure in that position seven new K of C councils began. Dr. E.A. Krembs is survived by his son Dr. E. Thomas and a granddaughter Elizabeth Ann.
A heavy move will take place soon in Tomahawk. The city will pay to move Old Number 19 with the Marinette, Tomahawk and Western Railroad engine making its final move from behind the city’s Dairy Queen to Washington Park three blocks to the south. The retired locomotive had sat in the park across from the Dairy Queen but was moved to make room for a World War II era tank that the city acquired. The plan is to load the engine by crane onto a heavy duty trailer for the move. No 19 has been vandalized repeatedly over the years but MT&W Railroad plans to restore the engine after it is moved.
The ballot for the spring election is official now. Last week’s paper reported incumbent mayor Patsy Woller had a challenger, and now it appears incumbent City Clerk Judy Stockowitz will face three challengers for her post, first ward alderwoman Susan Kunkel, Gary Schuster, owner of the Cleaners of Merrill, and Bill Heideman a fiscal clerk at Pine Crest Nursing Home. A primary for that spot will be held on Feb. 17. Ralph Sturm will appear alone on the ballot for the full time position of street commissioner; Jason Hommerding had declared for that office but did not file nomination papers. Merle Sheridan is the only candidate for the office of municipal court judge, a position he was appointed to in mid-1997. Kunkel is still seeking her seat on the council as well although she would have to choose between the two if elected to both; she is being challenged by William Bialecki and David Welk, that seat will also see a primary in February. Mike Willman will see a challenge from Scott Doerr in the second district. In the fourth, former alderman Dave D’Amico is vying for that seat with retired police officer Thomas Schotz, with incumbent Floyd Korpi not seeking re-election in that ward. In the sixth ward Phillip Krause is being challenged by Mark Sherfinsk; Robert Gremler has withdrawn his candidacy for that spot. In the fourth ward incumbent Kurt Helmstedter is unopposed as are Roger English in the fifth ward and Michael Wahoske in the 8th. In the seventh ward Merrill educator Robert Colclasure is unopposed for that spot as incumbent Robert Monti declared non-candidacy.
The City of Merrill will start enforcing the uniform addressing ordinance over the next two years. The program will be phased in during that time and the city will provide black and white reflective house numbers to the estimated 3,500 buildings in town which lack the numbers. Further, duplexes and apartments will need clear uniform numbers or letters to identify them. Ralph Sturm brought the issue to the forefront when his men encountered issues trying to deliver the blue recycling bins throughout the city.
The finance director of Lincoln County has resigned. Bruce Hutchins gave his notice after one year in that position. Hutchins has accepted a position in Petersburg, Alaska, a city of several thousand residents in the south eastern portion of that state. Prior to coming to Lincoln County Hutchins worked for the city of Waukesha and Birnamwood.
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr