Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
The City of Merrill Common Council will hold a special meeting this evening to discuss annexation of property in the Town of Pine River. Attorney Wayne from the Schmitt, Nolan, Hansen and Hartley Law Firm in Merrill is representing property owner Pat Buckett who will appear to explain the plan for the property which will involve commercial development. Mayor Patrick Nugent said he expects the formal annexation request to come as soon as the June council meeting. The council will also consider buying a new pickup truck for the street department to replace a 1948 model truck used for street resurfacing.
State Representative Sheehan Donoghue (R-Merrill) has announced her bid for another term in office representing the 35th Assembly District. Donoghue was first elected to the position in 1972 and is seeking her fourth term. Donoghue points to her success in increasing security at Lincoln Hills School as a prompt response from Madison to a serious problem in northern Wisconsin. She also worked to ensure that northern Wisconsin counties receive a greater share of monies under the state’s new mining proceeds law. Rep. Donoghue is one of two representatives currently sitting on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Tax Reform Commission.
A loan has been secured for the new Jenny Towers apartments which will soon be built at the corner of Scott and First streets in Merrill. The $3.1 million project should get started on May 31. Commissioners authorized a construction loan for $2,940,000 from the Marine National Bank in Milwaukee. The interest on that loan will be around 7% and will be payable over 25 years according to MAHA Executive Director Joe Jackelen. He said he already has 291 applications for the 100 apartments in the seven-story structure.
As the school year is winding down, school staff is saying farewell to a long tenured teacher as Ena Reger will retire at the end of the term and conclude 42 years as a teacher. She began her teaching duties in the rural school district teaching all grades at Elm Grove School in the Town of Scott. She taught at the Farmingdale, Snowhill, Pine Grove, and her home school, City View. At a program on Monday evening honoring Reger, former students and colleagues entertained the crowd with stories of years past. Reger transferred to the city school system 17 years ago when it merged with the rural program and taught first and second grade at Jefferson School. Reger still lives on Ohio Street with her husband Fred, a retired teacher and insurance salesman. Reger is the only MAPS teacher retiring this year.
Merrill Area Public Schools is celebrating the class of 2000 as they graduate from kindergarten. The celebration was the brain child of teachers Vicky Van Straten and Ardis Marquis, both kindergarten teachers at Washington School where the event was held. The 250 future graduates of the class of 2000 all gathered and enjoyed refreshments and sweets from area stores along with commemorative t-shirts designed by Marquis. MAPS administration said the party was to set the pace for the new students of the 21st Century. (They are all about 36 years old now; doesn’t that make you feel old?)
In other MAPS news, High School Principal Lanny Tibaldo has been recognized as the outstanding principal in the state and will represent Wisconsin at the National Association of Secondary School Principals conference in Miami, FL in October. Tibaldo has been principal at the high school since 1978, prior to that he worked as the assistant principal. Before coming to Merrill, Tibaldo was a history teacher and coach at D.C. Everest. Tibaldo doesn’t lay claim to the recognition alone saying the award is an example of the team work among the staff and students at the high school.
Still no winner in the Bankroll contest at Drew’s Supermarkets. Art Lange’s name was drawn at Drew’s East and James Gerum was drawn at Drew’s West. Those Bankrolls now increase to $1,500 and $1,400.
You are asked to help ring in the celebration as Wisconsin celebrates 150 years of statehood. Many events are planned throughout the rest of the year to celebrate the state’s sesquicentennial but this Friday is the anniversary of when President James K. Polk signed the bill that included Wisconsin as a state and at noon that day church bells throughout the city will ring 30 times as a tribute to the fact we are the 30th state in the nation. Following the bell ringing, students in the MAPS fourth grades will parade from Streeter’s Square to the Court House lawn holding banners from each of their schools where they will enjoy speakers including Merrill Mayor Michael Caylor and State Representative Tom Ourada and Lincoln County Board members. Students from each class will then share a piece of history from the state before singing “On Wisconsin.” Everyone will join in singing “Happy Birthday” before refreshments including birthday cake are served.
Lincoln County will continue to be served by an elected coroner, that after a vote by the Lincoln County Board yesterday. In a narrow 12-10 vote, supervisors chose to stay with the elected position instead of changing over to the appointed medical examiner. County Administrative Coordinator John Mulder recommended the change in order to have more control and accountability over the position. Board members though expressed their concern with eroding the democratic process, pointing out the move would likely save no money and require the county to provide the medical examiner with office space – space it does not have. City and county officials are keeping a close eye over the Ward Paper mill dam which officials from International Papers want to remove. Residents surrounding the 117-acre pond on the Prairie River want it to remain for economic, health, wildlife, fishery and flood safety reasons. The DNR is preparing an assessment of the dam and that report should be available by late June. A steering committee made up of residents surrounding the property has been formed but the DNR has told the group that the dam needs to be retrofitted to handle 8,000 cubic feet per second, versus the 5,000 current capacity. Dan Peerenboom of the DNR estimates it would cost around $500,000 to $1 million. The DNR believes International Papers would gladly hand the dam over to another group who would look to maintain it, but not until the costly upgrades are made. If the dam goes away, the next tough question to tackle is who owns the soon to be discovered land under the lake bed? County Board Chairman Robert Sumnicht commented that he believes IP still owns the former Hay Meadow Creek flowage which was left when the Prairie Dells Dam was removed in 1991, calling that area a “disgrace and eyesore.”