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Students from Merrill’s Junior High School invaded city hall this past week - but in a good way. The students are part of the 9th grade Civics class, and they spent the day shadowing the elected and appointed officials they represented. Mayor Matt Pankow; Clerk Diane Peterson; Treasurer Missy Summers; Attorney Keith Donner; Street Commissioner Jim Kretzschmar; Engineer Gary Anderson; Chief of Police John Cotter; Fire Chief Kevin Pfingsten; Park Superintendent Scott Gipple; Building Inspector Robert Schotz; Aldermen: Lori Plautz; Terry Olson, John Fehlberg, Mike Peterson, Patti Romatoski, Bill Utech, Jill Smith, Mary Beth Gryskiewiczm, Pat Bares, Teresa Knutson, Leon Hass, Russ Akey, Vicki Dassow, Gary Gartman, and Bruce Koehler. Following a morning welcoming ceremony, the department heads shadowed the people they represented. In the afternoon a mock city council meeting was held and students were able to ask questions to city department heads. On the lighter side of the day, students sang “Happy Birthday” to Mayor Ralph ‘Fata’ Voigt who celebrated his 57th birthday on Tuesday.

At the actual City Council Meeting Tuesday evening the city voted to purchase the former Merrill Woolen Mill property for $20,000. Fire Chief Ray Priebe is eyeing the property for the construction of a new central fire station in the future. Priebe pointed out the savings that could occur with a central station such as with heat, lights and equipment and noted how Marshfield, Rhinelander and Stevens Point have all gone to central stations. (40 years later and two blocks to the east we have it built.) In other council action, aldermen approved the Semling property plan to develop the area to the east of the Junior High for residential housing and approved Park City Baptist Church to hold services at the Lincoln House under a six month lease.

In a see-saw battle, the Merrill Blue Jay boys’ basketball team saw their season come to an end this past weekend with a fourth place finish in  sectional play at Green Bay. In the opening game a lackluster first quarter was probably to blame for the game’s outcome as the Jays only hit one of their first 12 shots from the floor. Bruce Muschinske, who was listed as unlikely for the game, saw limited action but sparked a scoring streak in the second quarter which sent the cagers into the locker room at half time with a 28-22 lead. But foul troubles in the second half, including the loss of Senior forward Tom English, who fouled out in the third quarter, doomed the group who lost 51-45 to the Green Bay Trojans. On Saturday the Jays lost to Clintonville in the consolation round 75-64.

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The position of County Clerk is up for grabs as incumbent County Clerk Ken Oldenburg has announced he will not run for re-election this November after holding the seat for the past 16 years. Oldenburg, 67, will end his 42 years of public service when he steps down from the post next January. Oldenburg first became involved in politics when he was elected supervisor of the Town of Russell in 1942. For the next 26 years, he switched roles from town chairman, a member of the county board, county board chairman and eventually he was elected County Clerk in 1968. Oldenburg hopes to use his retirement fishing, relaxing and becoming more involved in community activities.

St. Patrick’s Day is this Saturday and there is plenty of green fun to be found. “O’Bogie’s” Bar has pitchers of green beer for $2, the Black Heath has the music of the Music Masters along with corned beef and cabbage on the menu, Lierman’s has free green beer from 7–8 p.m. and the music of the Silhouettes, Skippers is serving corned beef and cabbage until 3 p.m., Stueber’s Country Way has Silverado both Friday and Saturday nights in the Candlewood Room, and Champ’s has all you can eat green pancakes for $1.25 and shamrock shakes for only $1.

After a 21-1 season, the Merrill Blue Jay girls’ basketball team suffered a stunning 53-38 defeat at the hands of West Bend East in the first game at the WIAA State Tournament in Madison this past Thursday. The Jays suffered a setback before the game even started when their leading scorer and rebounder Lisa Bonnell sprained her ankle during pre-game warm ups. With Bonnell noticeably injured, her play suffered throughout the contest until head coach Bob Yuska pulled her from the game when the loss was imminent. Bonnell began the scoring in the game, putting Merrill ahead 2-0 but that was the last lead the team would see during the contest.

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Tired of the cold weather? Viking Travel on W. Main Street has vacation packages to Hawaii flying from CWA that include airfare, hotel, and car for seven nights starting at $797.

The Lincoln Community Theatre will present “On Golden Pond” next weekend at Les & Jim’s and a multi-faceted young man will make his stage debut. Peter Colclasure, son of Bob and Kathy Colclasure is a busy seventh grader with writing poetry, stories, and songs along with playing piano and trombone. Peter also noted he has “tons” of homework but jumped at the chance to audition for the play after he heard about it from his mother. The play will run as a dinner theatre format all next weekend. (Although he lives in San Jose, CA not much has changed for Peter. He is a professional musician and teaches music, but I assume he has less homework now than when this came out)

Although they are not going to Madison, the Merrill Blue Jay boys’ basketball team finished second at sectional in what is being described as the best season ever in school history. The boys hit early bombs and crunch time free throws to defeat Green Bay Preble 52-49 on Friday but one quarter of poor shooting ended up being the difference in a loss to unbeaten and arch-rival SPASH on Saturday. First year coach Tom Andreska notes he will lose most of his players to graduation but with the JV squad finishing 14-6 he has talent coming up.