Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
Turmoil continues at the Sheriff’s Office as Governor Patrick Lucey has suspended embattled Sheriff Robert Bassett after he was charged with four counts of misconduct in public office last week. On Thursday County Clerk Ken Oldenburg swore in acting Sheriff Bert Strasman who was appointed by the Governor to fill the role of Sheriff. Strasman was an original member of the former Lincoln County Traffic Patrol in 1948. He has served with the Sheriff’s Office since it was integrated with the traffic patrol in 1969.
The Lincoln County Social Services Board voted Monday evening to retain the county owned Pine Crest Nursing Home in Merrill. The board is seeking the public’s opinion on the subject and also voted to hold three listening sessions to determine what the public feels about the county holding onto the facility. Robert Jaecks, the administrator of Pine Crest, pointed out that a restructuring of the fees at the home will allow it to run at the break-even point and if a planned 40-bed expansion goes through it could further bolster the bottom line. Board members from Tomahawk have questioned why the county owns the nursing home while the homes in Tomahawk are privately owned.
The prizes have been awarded as the Lincoln County Centennial Bake Off came to a close at the fair last week. Mrs. Ray Schield took first place with her Schnitz un Knepp (apple dumplings, per Google) a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. Mrs. Schield received a $50 check for her entry. Second place went to Mrs. John Kolka who received $20 for her Finnish coffee bread. Mrs. Gerhard Kautz took home $10 for her third place entry of Spider Corn Bread. Honorable mentions went to Mrs. Ted Kolka and Mrs. Clara Bongers. The judges for the contest were Mrs. George Page and Mrs. Tom Seidlitz and Marv Nelles, the news director of WRIG radio in Wausau.
In an ad on page 22, notice is given that Mosser’s Hub Inn has been sold to Don and Arlene Heller and the tavern will now be known as Heller’s Hub Inn. Butsy and Evie Mosser thank their loyal customers for 27 years of patronage and wish the new owners well.
The crowd of both business owners and residents were in unison at the Merrill Board of Public Works meeting on Tuesday night speaking against the proposed widening of East Main Street. Plans introduced by city engineer Charles Pierotti and Kenneth Oja from a consulting firm hired to coordinated the project call for the road to be made four lanes from Memorial Drive heading east back to the Pine Ridge oasis. The $1.6 million dollar price tag for the project, which includes curb and gutter, sidewalks and improved underground utilities, will probably be covered by the State of Wisconsin. Steve Drew from Drew’s Supermarket stated they have been in business since 1959 and they see no need for the expanded roadway while Gary Alden of Alden’s Red and White Food Store objected to the proposed median strip that will run from Big Eddy Road east to Pine Ridge Avenue, essentially blocking eastbound traffic from turning into his parking lot. Trudy George, a resident on East Main Street, expressed concern that the widening project could expand and include all of East Main Street to Van Rensselaer Street, but Mayor Richard Holt quashed that fear. “We are trying to create a corridor to get people into town,” Holt said. “Once they get here, we hope they stay here.”
The fair wrapped up this past week in Merrill and awards went to several. The most attended contest was the demo derby in which Jon Wicke of Merrill gained the top spot and took home the $125 top prize. As an added bonus to the derbies, a tank from the nearby Company A, 1st Battalion, 632 Armored Division came over and rolled over the top of a few losing cars. In case you were worried, Bill Wengler’s racing pigeons made it home safely. Last Friday, Wengler released 50 of the birds near the Lokemoen Building in a demonstration. Brenda Sosnovske took top honors in the Holstein judging with Michelle Klug winning the reserve champion spot. Kathy Schneider won the top honors in the Guernsey judging; Jason Schubert took reserve champion honors. And a steer owned by Dawn Schepp was named grand champion in beef judging. The animal brought in $1.80 per pound or $2,440 at the market sale.
In what may prove a major blow to the Merrill economy, the Ward Paper Company has announced their intention to close the mill at Merrill effective October 15. Mill manager Brian McDonald said the mill at Erie, PA can produce the same material made here at a more cost effective rate in the present soft market. Merrill Mayor Patsy Woller said she was saddened by the announcement but wants to assure the employees that the city is actively working to save the mill through whatever avenues are available. One idea was the possibility that the present mill could be converted to the production of lightweight recycled packaging material.
35th Assembly District Representative Tom Ourada spent this past Monday on a judicial ride along as he sat a full day on the bench with Lincoln County Judge J. Michael Nolan. Ourada was surprised by the amount of activity in the court and the monumental paper trail it created. Lincoln County is one of 11 counties vying for an additional branch of the court to ease the burden on the one judge. Judge Nolan said he is hopeful that the judgeship request survives the budget process and can be accommodated without spoiling the historic importance of the Lincoln County Court House.
Caylor’s Corners of Merrill lent a hand to the ongoing fund drive for the MARC Center. Caylor’s donated part of their proceeds from propane sales prior to the Fourth of July holiday, netting the facility over $500. Pictured is Charlie Phelps from the MARC accepting a check from Bill Caylor as Tim Caylor stands in the background, visibly wiping tears as he says goodbye to the money.