Local dignitaries were on hand this past Friday as Les and Jim Bares, owner of Les & Jim’s Lincoln Lanes, broke ground on a new 8,400-foot addition to the their present facilities. The addition will house a banquet hall with seating for up to 600 that can easily be divided by three sound proof partitions and break the room into three rooms that can seat 200 each. Pictured with the two owners are Mayor Ralph “Fata” Voigt, Ron Henrichs and Jeff Peterson from the Chamber, City Clerk Bob Klug and County Resource Agent Erv Leverenz. Besides the hall, the addition will also allow room for a kitchen and bar.

The Merrill Fiscal Control Board of the Merrill Area Public School District will consider a considerable spending package at their annual meeting this evening at the Merrill Senior High School cafeteria. After two meetings, the Merrill Area School Board unanimously approved construction of a metal storage building, improvements at Jay Stadium, and the purchase of the Alma Kloss property. The metal storage building was proposed to be built in back of the administration building to house the rolling fleet of the school district. These vehicles were previously kept at the high school but have been moved after the storage areas were remodeled for the ag and small engine classes along with storage for athletic equipment. Jay Stadium will see new bathrooms and a scoreboard, but the board nixed plans to build a locker, dressing room and shower facilities. The Alma Kloss home is on property adjacent to the high school. Currently the school district has $143,145.60 in debt, this will add on $110,000 and the school board is hoping to roll it all into one 10-year note.

At an informational meeting this past Tuesday, Mrs. Kathy Wulf, chairperson of the Lincoln County Resource Committee, explained the future needs for nursing home care in Lincoln County. Currently, Pine Crest in Merrill and Riverview, Golden Age, and Sacred Heart Nursing Homes in Tomahawk are at 90% capacity with a total of 332 residents. The Atlantis Corporation is proposing a 100-bed facility be built in Merrill to handle the future needs of the elderly population.


Trude Pophal has been named the new president of the Merrill Jaycee Women. A new slate of officers were elected at the March meeting. Besides Pophal, officers for the next year include Karen Zoellner, internal vice president; Ginny Drew, external vice president; Nancy Porath, secretary; Laurie Wilichewski, treasurer; Debbie Laak, internal board member; Chris Polobitzke, external board member; Edith Stillhart, district director; Jo Wengler, state director.

In his weekly column, Norm Heideman asks the question who is Merrill’s most famous son? Jig’s nominates Hans Von Kaltenborn. “HV,” as he was known, was the dean of the radio news reporters or the Walter Cronkite of the time who interviewed world leaders both famous and infamous. HV grew up in a house on E. 1st Street where Jenny Towers now stands and started work early in his father’s paint and glass store. HV enlisted in Merrill’s Company F, 4th Wisconsin Infantry and served during the Spanish American war as a First Sergeant. During that period he moonlighted as a war correspondent for the Merrill Advocate, The Milwaukee Journal, and the Lincoln County Anzeiger, a German language weekly. He made his first radio broadcast in 1924 and climbed the ranks quickly, landing a job with NBC in 1930. Norm further relates that he met HV during one of his many return trips to Merrill and sat in when he did the nightly news program for NBC radio from “Chilsen’s shack.” Two pictures accompany this story, with one showing HV broadcasting reports direct from Guadalcanal during heavy fighting and the other showing HV in the 1930s standing next to Adolph Hitler after an interview at his home in the Bavarian Alps.


A host of local and state dignitaries were on hand as the first shovels of dirt were turned at what will soon be the Merrill Area Recreation Complex. State Representative Tom Ourada and State Senator Roger Breske along with a representative from Governor Tommy Thompson’s office each took a shovel to assist MARC General Chair Charlie Phelps and Park and Rec Director Greg Stezenski. After the ground breaking a celebration was held while employees of Merrill Sand and Gravel quickly went to work to start converting the property.

While representing Merrill’s second ward on the Merrill City Council, Ellsworth “Zonie” Plautz gave up much of his golden time, and now the city has given him back some of that golden time. Plautz recently retired from the council after serving 50 years from 1944 to 1994, many of those years as the council president. Following the reorganizational meeting of the common council on Tuesday, Plautz was presented with a gold pocket watch as a token of esteem from those who worked with him over those many years.

Two more bowling feats are reported on this week’s sports page. As was reported earlier, there have been just six known conversions of the 7/10 split in Lincoln Lanes history and one of those was by Rich Johnson. Now, 12 days later, Noel Barlau of Merrill has become the seventh. Barlau was bowling in the Merrill Restaurant League for Les & Jim’s Snack Shoppe when he hit what he called the Disney Land split. Barlau explained, “when I bowled for band in high school you got a trip to Disney Land if you cleaned up that split.” Also at Lincoln Lanes after many close calls over the years, Dave Kaminski hit his first 300 game. Kaminski was bowling in the Thursday night Men’s 760 League when he knocked down the perfect game last Thursday. Kaminski related he wasn’t nervous until the first ball of the tenth frame, but said as soon as he released the last ball in that frame he knew as soon as it hit the lane he had gotten a strike. He bowls for Wildwood Builders and ended the night with a 714 series.