Organizational meetings were held yesterday for recently elected local governments. On the county side, Gordon Schroeder was re-elected chairman of the county board and Dick Baumgart was elected vice-chairman. In other action, the board passed a measure introduced by Baumgart to keep supervisors’ salaries at $2,700 for this term.

The Merrill City Council meeting was a bit livelier as aldermen once again chose second ward alderman Ellsworth Plautz as the council president. Two new aldermen, Pat Nugent and Elmer Kleinschmidt, were installed along with veteran alderman Roger English, Gerald Bauer, Gilbert Sabatke, Walter Proft, Alfred Kohler, and Stanley Frisch. The oath was also administered to Mayor Ralph Voigt, Treasurer “Al” Saeger, City Attorney William Wulf, Street Commissioner Kermit Meyer, and City Clerk Robert Klug. Klug then swore in Elmer Kahre, Barbara Hanson, and Dennis Knott who will all begin serving on the Board of Education in July.

In his address to the council, Mayor Voigt made six recommendations to move the city forward during the next term. Those included a mayor’s commission on the status of women; named to that committee were Elizabeth Langenkamp, Charmaine Whitburn, Edith Ament, Marion Rostal, Carol Holz, Marion Ament, Charlotte Peters, and Alderman Patrick Nugent. The second recommendation was the appointment of a long range planning committee. The third was to expand and accelerate elderly housing construction because of demand and rising construction prices. The fourth was to instruct the personnel committee to examine all city hiring practices with the exception of the police and fire departments which are governed by the Police and Fire Commission. The fifth was to have the street commissioner designate two city street department employees to clean sewers on a daily basis. This is in response to a request by the city’s insurance carrier. And sixth, that any department head who plans on leaving the city for more than one day notify the mayor or the personnel officer as to their destination, and for all city employees to notify their department heads when they plan on leaving the city for more than a day as to their destination so they can be re-called in case of an emergency. (To younger readers, we once lived without cell phones.)


Gordon Rostal has been appointed as the 8th district representative to the Lincoln County Board after the resignation of Donald Harris this past week. Harris was the only candidate on the ballot, but he announced he was withdrawing from the race a week before the contest. Local police officer Jay Proft mounted a write-in campaign but came up short in his effort. On Tuesday, County Board Chair Neil LeMay submitted the retired oil man’s name for consideration before the board, and he was confirmed by an 18-2 vote.

In his annual address to the city council, Mayor Richard Holt reminded aldermen that the city’s comprehensive plan is done but yet sits on a shelf and they have “procrastinated long enough.” He asked that they install the recommended economic development director and consider making the mayor’s position a full-time job, saying they are all in charge of a $7 million dollar operation and all of them are part-time employees. Holt also predicted trouble ahead as the state and federal governments plan on scaling back on shared revenue. Holt noted the upper levels’ plan on shifting the burden to local taxpayers, and they would need to cut back on services or curtail improvements to streets and other maintenance items to survive.

Asked to enter a plea to three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, a Hamburg youth stood silent last week. The 15-year-old was charged in Marathon County Court with the murder of his parents and brother and the wounding of his sister in their rural home on April 7. He remains jailed in Marathon County.


Local physician James Bigalow has been recognized by the State Medical Society of Wisconsin as he joins their Fifty Year Club. Bigalow, a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, served his internship at Stanford Hospital and then practiced in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky before coming to Merrill in 1954. According to the program for his induction, his most memorable experience came aboard a ship halfway through his internship. Bigalow was halfway across the Atlantic Ocean when a young GI presented with an acute gangrenous appendix and needed surgery. The only medical professionals on board were Bigalow, a dentist, and a general practitioner. The GP passed gas and the young dentist assisted as Bigalow performed surgery. The ship’s captain slowed the engines in order to give the crew a smoother ride as they performed the surgery which was successful and the patient was soon evacuated from the ship by helicopter.

If the travel bug is biting, you can find plenty of deals on the entertainment page. Central Wisconsin Travel in the Pine Ridge Plaza is offering round-trip airfares at very low prices; they include: Boston or New York $173; Atlanta $202; Orlando $282, LA or San Diego $335; or Dallas for $230. Viking Travel on Merrill’s west side is offering fall packages to Las Vegas. You can choose dates from September to November with airfare from CWA starting at $279.

This week is the city of Merrill’s annual spring cleanup. The Street Department will be picking up large items including furniture, lumber, and general garbage along with compost in excess of the regular limits. By coincidence, Caylor’s Corners has expanded their annual spring mattress sale until the end of the city cleanup effort.