Researched by Michael J. Caylor
The race for mayor in Merrill is heating up, and with the primary election for the post just weeks away one of the four candidates has come out swinging. Alderman and mayoral candidate Henry Golde spoke to an estimated 60 people at the Optimist Club this past week and told those in attendance that, “the city is grossly mismanaged.” Golde said he knows the true concern of the taxpayers is the spiral of their property taxes and how that money is being spent. Golde noted that federal revenue sharing dollars are being spent to pay down debt when they should really be used to invest in capital improvement projects in the city, noting the city is plans on borrowing up to $250,000 this year to make budget as the city is “practically broke.” Golde further criticized how the city budget is formulated as he feels that the council is not involved enough in the process; he went onto to say the current mayor is merely a figurehead who does not do enough to speak out on city issues and refuses to work with the county board in order to consolidate costs or programs.
With city business moving to the former Church Mutual building, questions still linger on what to do with the former city hall now standing empty. A local insurance agent warned the city this week that the costs for the city’s insurance will only increase this year now that the city has two large buildings. He encouraged the city to board up the bottom portion of the recently abandoned building and put more secure locks on the door to prevent vandalism. Block said the cost of insuring the building will increase automatically within 60 days of the building being known as vacant and that date is quickly approaching as the city officially moved out of the building on Dec. 16. Myrtle Natzke of the City Hall Disposition Committee reported her group is working on receiving recognition of the building but so far the application to the National Register of Historic Places has been rejected. The group has also been seeking low interest loans or grant monies in order to preserve the building, but that will be difficult without the landmark status. Otto Johnson also sits on the disposition committee and he told of interest from a private party to buy the building but no sale can be completed without a proper assessment. Henry Golde encouraged the disposition group be abolished in favor of a group tasked with saving the historic structure from the wrecking ball with the possibility that the building could be used as a civic center. (Me thinks that if this conversation would be taking place today that building would already be gone.)
In news briefs: A Tomahawk man became the county’s first traffic fatality for 1978. Irving Wangard was killed and his wife Adele was seriously injured when the vehicle they were in was broadsided while turning onto US Hwy. 51 from US Hwy. 8 Monday. The Northwoods CB Club has donated two CB radios which they recently installed in two sheriff patrol cars. Gary Schmitz, Ron Burdich and Fran Coenen are shown installing one of the radios to assist with emergency communication. How many pennies are in 420 pounds? You can ask Fran Jeske or the staff at M&I Bank for the answer. Fran collected pennies for the last three and a half years and with the assistance of Ron Lass and Mike Jeffords she brought them to the bank to be cashed in this past week. Fran walked away with over $517 in folding money and some more pennies to re-start the collection.
Local health official are trying to educate the public on the dangers of the deadly disease blastomycosis. Local veterinarian Dr. Tom Shales raised the first warning after finding the disease in 11 area dogs and now the Lincoln County Nursing Service is reporting three human cases. A two page article in this week’s paper lists the causes, symptoms and treatment for the disease.
The Green Bay Packers fell just a little short of the Super Bowl this year (they were 5-9-1 under Forrest Gregg in his last year at Green Bay), but that does not mean you cannot enjoy watching the game this weekend. Wanless TV has a 25” color TV with remote control for only $639 if you trade in your old set. Carl’s Liquor Store can help fill the fridge with a case of Red, White & Blue beer for only $5.89. At Hour Place 413 W. Main St. you will find .25 tappers and .75 cans throughout the game. Mary’s Homestead Inn will have free snacks and a complete menu on Sunday. Kid’s Korner Pizza wants you to carry out two large pizzas with the second one half off. If Mexican is your thing that is too bad as South of the Border will be closed Super Bowl Sunday for an employee party. Les & Jim’s Lincoln Lanes will have ice bowling in their parking lot from noon until four; after that they’ll have an all you can eat and drink Super Party inside for just $15 per person. 3’s Company will be offering $1 Bloody Marys up until kick off. If you are hosting a party you can find 15 items for $2 or less at Drew’s Supermarket to help kick start your party, those items range from Jolly Good soda .79 for a two liter bottle to Jack’s Pizza $1.99 each.
The Lincoln County Board is entertaining the idea of having a comprehensive management study done of county operations. Board member Floyd Lemon brought forth the idea at a recent meeting but it was not formally on the agenda so for now it has been tabled. Recently MAPS and the City of Merrill both paid for studies to be conducted of their operations and in some cases sweeping changes resulted. A similar study was recommended by the county board two years ago, but the administrative committee ended up rejecting the measure at the committee level by a 4-1 margin. Lemon hopes to have a formal resolution by next month noting that county spending will increase next year by $1 million.
Residents of the Maple Manor mobile home park on Merrill’s south side may get a temporary reprieve from the eviction notices they just received. The City of Merrill served the 18 trailer renters with notice to vacate the property by March 2. Tenants have hired an attorney and placed blame on the owner for not informing them of the looming trouble with the city. The city wants the trailers removed due to a leaking septic system and other issues. The tenants believe they should get an extension until June to move their trailers due to the hardship of finding new space and moving a frozen trailer during the winter.
A woman’s dying wish has led to the arrest of a Tomahawk man for a decades old murder. Lincoln County Coroner Dave Haskins got a request to permit the disinterment of a body from the Greenwood Cemetery. The infant, Laurie Ann, died 28 years ago in Sheboygan and her terminally ill mother wanted her daughter cremated and laid to rest with her in southern Wisconsin. Haskins requested the death certificate, a common part of the permit process, but when he received it he found the listed cause of death as blunt force trauma. Haskins contacted authorities in Sheboygan who had never heard of the death. The child was removed from her grave and an autopsy was performed by Dr. Robert Huntington in Madison. Huntington conclude that the story told by Arden Hirsch originally, which was that Laurie Ann’s sister struck and killed the child by dropping a book on her head, was impossible. Based on the autopsy results Hirsch was arrested at his Tomahawk home and charged this week with second degree murder. (And he received nine years in prison after being found guilty at a jury trial two years later.)