Lussier honored for support of Merrill school forest
Jack Lussier was recently honored at the “woods” his grandfather donated to the Merrill Public Schools in 1944. The Nels P. Evjue Memorial School Forest encompasses approximately 764 acres and is used daily by the Merrill Public School students to teach environmental awareness, nature skills, plant and animal identification, and more, as part of the school curriculum.
To commemorate Jack (John H.) Lussier’s 50 years of employment at The Capital Times Newspaper, the following projects at the School Forest were chosen: Jack’s Picnic Spot which is an outdoor shelter with room for four large picnic tables (handicapped accessible), benches, a grill and a fire pit. The other project is the Lussier Woodshed, which will be located near the Evjue Cordwood Education Center.
Jack Lussier, along with the Evjue Foundation, had previously funded the building of a large storage garage to honor his Aunt Nellie Evjue, who was Superintendent of Lincoln County Schools and County Supervising Teacher for 25 years. The garage is named Nellie’s Garage and will be used for storage of equipment and educational materials. It will also house a workshop for students to try their hand at building bird houses and other projects. Jack also honored the memory of his mother, Emma Evjue Lussier, by donating funds to build Emma’s First Aid Station which will be housed in the School Forest Lodge. Emma was a Lincoln County Nurse from 1923 to 1927.
Plaques and signs were added to each structure and Jack travelled from his home for the dedication on Sept. 5. One plaque states: “Jack’s Picnic Spot commemorates 50 years of employment by John H. (Jack) Lussier by the Capital Times Newspaper in Madison, WI. It also honors Jack’s commitment, service and dedication to the Nels P. Evjue School Forest and the Evjue family legacy.” Jack is a hands-on philanthropist and keeps apprised, first hand, of the many wonderful and caring projects he has funded throughout the state of Wisconsin.
The dedication of “Nellie’s Garage” brought to completion several important projects. The entrance of the School Forest was widened. Two new signs define how the property may be used. A gravel parking lot with easy access to the property makes it more accessible to those who wish to hike, snow shoe or ski. The driveway to the Lodge was improved along with additional parking, handicapped accessibility, a drop-off area for buses and delivery trucks and an alternate route for departing vehicles. The third addition was the long planned construction of “Nellie’s Garage.” This 1,200 sq. ft. metal building provides much needed space for machinery and supplies, as well as a work space for student projects. The new garage will replace the garage that was built in the late 1970s that has, over the years, seen structural damage due to storms and aging of materials.
These projects were largely funded by Jack Lussier, The Evjue Foundation and The Capital Times. Merrill Area Public Schools, in cooperation with the Friends of the School Forest, endeavored to purchase labor and materials directly from the community. A special thank you to these businesses for their donations: Lincoln Wood Products, County Concrete, Akey Engineering Services, Trantow’s Do-It Center, Fillmore Metal Crafters, and Graap Logging.