Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
In a stunning defeat, 18-year incumbent Mayor Ralph “Fata” Voigt is out of a job this evening after being outpolled in Tuesday’s election. (Hang on we are going to have a trend here) When the votes were counted, Voigt was defeated by Fifth Ward Alderman and former County Board Chair Patrick Nugent by 203 votes. Voigt only found victory in two of the city’s nine wards while Nugent enjoyed resounding vote totals in wards three and five where his margin was a combined 165 votes over the retired insurance man and longtime mayor. In other city races the city will continue to have an elected street commissioner, and that person will be Philip Erickson. Voters decided to keep the post elected by a vote of 2,488-1,057 while Erickson held off Donald Hanneman 1,969-1,383. Michael Ravn waged a tough fight to become the next city attorney; he ran unopposed for the spot vacated by Bill Wulf. In the two aldermanic races on the ballot First ward alderman Jean Rogers defeated Janet Plamann while Gilbert Sabatke, the incumbent in the sixth ward, held off Harry DuFrame.
In the election for the Merrill Board of Education, three new faces will be found on the board. Diane Mikkelson, Edward Norris and Robert St. Clair all will find seats on the board as two incumbents and one former incumbent were all defeated. Board President and longtime board member Roger Zuelsdorff was 112 votes away from the third spot on the ballot when the votes were counted; he along with Roger Gutknecht and former board member Elmer Kahre were defeated in the contest. In county board races Stanley Vaughn kept his seat defeating Ernest Townsend, Ewald Katke held off Nick Hoffman, Bert Strassman defeated Nancy Polak, Robert Weaver knocked off incumbent Caroline Meyers, Walter Kienbaum narrowly defeated George Knospe, and Don Harris won a seat as a write in for the city’s ninth ward in a contest with no contestants on the ballot.
In local news briefs: The future Lincoln County Animal Shelter has suffered another setback as the Merrill Board of Public Works voted against extending sewer lines into the east of Jackson Street. The Humane Society wanted to use the area, formerly the city landfill, for the new shelter. The board noted the sewer and water line extension would have cost $18,000, a third of which would have been paid by property owners in the neighborhood. Merrill Chief of Police Charles Johnson is pointing to recent crime statistics as why his department needs a full time juvenile officer. Detective Tom Schotz was handling the juvenile crimes but has now been assigned full time to investigations. Offenses involving juveniles went from 209 in 1976 to 345 last year. The Scott Street parking lot will close tomorrow, and you must remove your vehicle or the city will move it for you. The Merrill Street Department will begin prepping the lot for the future high rise housing complex which is being constructed by the Merrill Housing Authority.
After holding the office of mayor for eight years, Mayor Richard Holt was defeated yesterday in a stunning defeat. Newcomer Kenneth Sparr defeated the retired insurance salesman 1,618-1,346 in unofficial totals. Holt took three wards as compared to Sparr’s five in what city officials called an average turn out. Sparr noted in the story his agenda seemed to propel his campaign, an agenda that called for cost control in city government. In Tomahawk two term Mayor Harold Burton was defeated by challenger Richard Bierlich by 22 votes. In two contested aldermanic contests both incumbents came out on top. Cheryl Kanitz defeated Ray Kulawinski in the first ward, and Robert Monti defeated Paul Proulx in the seventh. In the town of Pine River a three way race for two seats representing district nine has a clear winner, sort of. Phil Schneider, the newcomer in the contest, came up with 295 votes while the incumbents Norbert Doering and William Dexter tied at 292 votes. If the vote totals hold, the incumbents are expected to draw cards to determine the winner.
The State of Wisconsin hopes to have their lottery up and running by mid-June. Lottery Director Bill Flynn hopes to have two games to start, a scratch off game where players will try and match three like symbols to win a prize, a pull tab game where you will spend 50 cents for a five paneled playing card where you try to get three in a row, and eventually a game where people choose numbers with a weekly drawing for a prize up to a million dollars. Flynn noted that the more people who play means the more money in the jackpots. Voters approved a referendum on the lottery last year in order to provide property tax relief.
Here is a sign of summer, the Riverfest Queen candidates have been announced. They include: Sara Tesch, Lisa Martin, Debby Guite, Sharon Jolly, Lori Paul, Robin McNeil, Amy Baumann, Amy Voelz, and Mary Zebik. Riverfest gets underway on June 10 and the Jaycees are promising the return of the river racing boats along with the Liebel European Family Circus.
Norm “Jigs” Heideman has a point. He likes the name of Jenny Towers for the elderly high rise complex on the city’s east side, but he would rather it be named after Hans Von Kaltenborn. Although born in Milwaukee, Hans spent most of his childhood in Merrill and is one of its most renowned sons. For those of you who didn’t follow his career he was a news broadcaster on NBC and was the Walter Cronkite of his day in the 1930s and 1940s. While living in Merrill his home was on the site where Jenny Towers was built in a home that was later occupied by the Ewald Braun family. (I put this suggestion in Paul Russell’s suggestion box)
We still have one week to go before the big election in the city in which several challengers are taking on long term incumbents, and this week’s paper is filled with biographies and ads. The polls open at 8 a.m. next Tuesday and close at 8 p.m. The biggest races on the ballot include Bill Heideman facing off against Susan Kunkel for the City Clerk’s position, Street Commissioner Ralph Sturm is being challenged by write in challenger Rod Burgener Jr, and long serving Mayor Patsy Woller is facing Michael Caylor Sr., all along with a referendum on bonding for a potential expansion of the T. B. Scott Library. In his weekly news roundup column D.W. Pfister challenges voters to get out to the polls, noting that turn out for the primary was only 35%.
It is Spring Spectacular Sales time in Merrill, and the following advertisements are found in a special section this week: Lincoln Jewelry Company has 20-50% off store wide, Just Kid’s Clothing has 20% off all spring merchandise, Diamond Dave’s is offering a meal break from all your shopping with a prime rib dinner for just $9.95, Brose’s Flower Center wants you to bring home some spring cheer via a dozen roses for just $9.95, Merrill House of Music has a 27” color TV for just $395, Satin’s Plus has all prom dresses for $99, Snyder Drug has all Easter candy on sale along with their spring coupon book, The Guy’s Shop and Thelma’s have 30 to 50% select spring merchandise, Eddie’s Bake Shop is offering 14 to the dozen on doughnuts on Mondays, Green’s Floral will give you 10% off your prom flowers, Al’s Furniture has bedding starting at $69 for twin mattresses, Weinbrenner Shoe Store is offering 30% off all casual shoes, Pine Ridge Restaurant has a steak sale which includes a 24 oz T-bone dinner for $8.95 or you can cross the street to McDonalds where double cheeseburgers are .89, Bruce’s Cover All has 30% off store wide, and Drew’s Piggly Wiggly is having a drawing for a spring prize giveaway with the top prize of a two burner gas grill and second place being a Sony cassette playing Walkman.
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr