Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
Dan Burke has resigned as Executive Vice President of the Merrill Chamber of Commerce. The Merrill native announced at the board of directors meeting his intention to leave his post as of Sept. 1 to further his education. Burke has held the top post for two years and in that time the membership in the chamber has doubled while income increased by 125%. Richard Taylor is heading the group seeking Burke’s replacement. (He is now in the Fox Valley and retired)
The Merrill Area Housing Authority has a bit of good news as they have received a HUD grant to help cover costs of their building projects around the city. Congressman David Obey announced Friday the grant of $326,760 for the Section 8 housing. The money will be used towards the construction of the Jenny Tower complex on Scott Street along with nine family housing units on West Main Street, St. Paul Drive, and Woodbine Avenue. According to project manager Clarence Rogstad, the Scott Street project was a bit behind schedule but they plan on pouring concrete this week for the second floor.
In briefs: Sheriff Ron Krueger has announced he is seeking his third term as top law enforcement officer. First elected to the post in 1974, Krueger has been honored in the past by the Optimist Club as Outstanding Young Law Enforcement Officer and is a member of the Wisconsin Sheriff’s and Deputy Sheriff’s Association. He and his wife Ann have four children. The Merrill Police Department is short one motor unit after a crash this past week involving the department’s Cushman. Officer Michael Kunkel was negotiating a right hand turn into Lion’s Park on Saturday when the brakes froze up and it slid into a fire hydrant totaling the front end. Traffic officers will complete their rounds on foot until a new Cushman arrives next week. (Someone told me Kunkel ended up being the hero as the insurance company paid out more for the wrecked unit then the Cushman dealer was offering for a trade) Larry Barton has opened his Farmers Insurance agency on the west side of town and is offering full coverage for your insurance needs. The Merrill City Band will open their season tonight at the band shell; David Ament, a member since 1970, will direct the band this summer. Lucille Pehlke has opened an ice shop in the former Western gas station on East Second Street across from the post office.
The Physician Recruitment Association is working to bring more doctors to town. Currently Merrill is served by 12 doctors, but according to Sr. Mary Charles, Holy Cross Hospital Administrator, the area should have at least 18-21 doctors. It is expected that three of the doctors currently serving may retire in the next few years. Rev. Dale Kuck is the newly elected chair of the committee which has sent out over 1,000 letters to doctors trying to convince them to come to Merrill.
Merrill Area Public Schools is making an appeal to the voters to approve borrowing for several projects mostly related to maintenance. The first project calls for improvements around the Junior High building by adding soccer fields, baseball diamonds, and improving the tennis courts. In another project, windows at the 1922 Lincoln School would be replaced with new energy efficient ones as well as at the high school, and outlying schools of Washington, Scott and Midway’s underground heating tanks would be replaced along with blacktop being installed throughout the district or replaced at schools. The board would also like some seed money to fund a study to build an indoor ice skating and hockey rink with the hope that the venture would be a combined MAPS/city/county project. (First hint at the MARC) School Superintendent Tom Strick will first bring these projects to the voters at the annual meeting on Sept. 1.
The Merrill Common Council approved the annexation of two pieces of property from the Town of Pine River last evening. Dick Hayes of the Merrill Area Development Corp. explained that they hope to make these areas into shopping hubs adjoining the nearby highway.
In briefs: Curtis LeMay has announced he is stepping down as the director of the T.B. Scott Library. He has taken a similar job at the UW Marathon Center; LeMay has held the local job for the last seven years. Sue Johanning has announced she intends to run for County Treasurer under the Republican ticket. She currently is the payroll clerk for the county; long time Treasurer Florian Koehler is not seeking re-election. The Family Medical Clinic is welcoming a family doctor team as Dr. Mark and Barbara Crapster-Pregont take up practice locally. The pair completed their residency at Eau Claire; Dr. Mark will be filling the spot created when Dr. Geoffrey Kloster left for Galesville. Rev. John Henning of Our Saviours’s Lutheran Church is celebrating 25 years in ministry. He first served in Richfield, MN and has been a pastor here in Merrill since 1977. The Lion’s Club has bought out the stand owned by the Lincoln County Sportsman’s Club at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds. Cal’s Chips Restaurant now has a drive through window according to an ad on the entertainment page.
A legend of the west side has died. Otto Schultz passed away Friday at Pine Crest Nursing Home at the age of 83. Otto and his brother Ralph were known throughout Merrill as the Schultz Brothers, and it was customary to see the pair walking through town almost every day of the year. During the summer months they normally carried a transistor radio with them and were quick to share the score of the ballgame, normally the Brewers, to everyone they came across. In his obituary the author wonders if anyone could ever measure the miles those two walked or all of the happenings they saw in their lifetimes. The boys’ sporting enthusiasm resulted in their receiving lifetime passes to all MAPS sporting events. Otto worked for many years at the Merrill Woodenware and then the R.O.W. Wisconsin Window Unit Company until he retired in 1969. He leaves behind his brother Ralph and his sister Viola both residents of Pine Crest. Otto was buried today at Merrill Memorial Park after a service at Taylor Funeral Home. Another legend of the east side also died this past week, Robert “Bobby” Nienow was known as a story teller to his neighbors. Nienow came home from service in World War II disabled but dedicated his life to his church, St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ.
Two county committees have endorsed a plan by Sheriff Paul Proulx to increase the capacity of the Lincoln County Jail by 15 prisoners. The added sleeping space will come from bunk beds installed in existing cells. The current capacity of the jail is 38; the plan now goes to the full county board.
More battling in city hall as Chief Neil Strobel is working to add staff to the police department. The council tied 4-4 on the measure and Mayor Mike Caylor voted no. Caylor said he based his vote on recommendations from Finance Director Bruce Redlin who called for a halt to new positions and a hiring freeze.