New Stonebridge apartments in Merrill one month out from openingSubmitted: 08/07/2018
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

New Stonebridge apartments in Merrill one month out from opening
MERRILL - The third-floor light switches work. So do the air conditioners. And the appliances are brand-new, just as Howard Othmer expected.

"I feel confident walking away from this building when it's done," Othmer said.  "Very, very well built."

Tuesday morning, the Horizon Construction Group general superintendent walked through Merrill's newest low-income housing project, which rises three stories above Main Street along the banks of the Prairie River.

Othmer's crews are about three weeks away from finishing the 38-unit building.  He estimates the third floor is about 99 percent finished.  Work still needs to be done on the elevators, mechanical elements, and basic items such as trim, but plans are on track.

"We'll be good, we'll hit it, no problem," Othmer said.

His Madison-based company started construction at the corner of Main Street and Grand Avenue this winter, battling through heavy snow in March and April and a couple supply shortages.  

Later this week, he'll go over a first round of inspections with the building's owners to make sure the apartments are done just right. The building offers views of downtown Merrill, the river and Stange's Park, and includes features such as a common room with a central fireplace, full-service salon, and plenty of green space to come out back.

"I'm excited to get through the first one because then I know what to expect," Othmer said with a laugh. "It's easy then."

Easy is exactly how the Merrill Area Housing Authority wanted to make it for people moving in to Stonebridge from the low-income Park Place apartments across the street. Thirty-two people from Park Place won a pool to get a new unit.  The six two-bedroom units will go to other people who have applied for low-income, elderly, or handicapped-accessible housing.

"The demand is there for affordable housing, there's no arguing against that," Executive Director Paul Russell said.

Russell has seen more than 130 applications for low-income housing this year alone. He says Stonebridge's upcoming grand opening will offer more space in other housing authority units, while allowing the MAHA to start the second phase of its project: renovating Park Place. The 1970s-era building will be gutted and redone. Stonebridge, meanwhile, will have energy-efficient appliances and better heating and cooling systems.

"[Park Place has] a ton of inefficiencies that have either us spending more money than we should or the tenants or WHEDA (the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority) or a combination of the three."

A combination of the Merrill Area Housing Authority (which contributed about 30 percent of the costs), state, and federal Housing and Urban Development funds paid for the $16 million project, despite no contributions from the city of Merrill itself.

"It kept a lot of small businesses and contractors in the Merrill-area busy," Russell said. "We touched Wausau, Rhinelander, I mean [most of] northcentral Wisconsin."

A team effort of state and local companies combining their handiwork to soon offer people in Merrill a hand up.

"This is probably the most close-knit network of a community I've ever been in," Othmer said.

The housing authority will hold a ribbon cutting and open house on Friday, September 7. Russell expects the Stonebridge building to last for at least 50 years.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


WAUSAU - A small plane crashed at the Wausau Downtown Airport Monday evening.

Wausau Police arrived around 7:45 p.m. and found the plane went off runway while landing and tipped onto a wing.

The pilot was not injured and was the only one on board. 

The crash caused only minimal damage to the the plane. 

The NTSB was contacted but did not do an on-site investigation because it was a minor crash. 

+ Read More

Play Video

SUGAR CAMP - To prepare their fields for planting, many Wisconsin farmers use a harsh weed killing chemical called glyphosate; it's the same active-ingredient found in Roundup. 

+ Read More

Play Video

CONOVER - After 34 years working as a Chicago police homicide detective, Joe Danzl got used to carrying a gun.

"I don't want to say it's second nature, but I'm pretty relaxed when I'm shooting," Danzl said.

Ten years into retirement and living in Eagle River, Danzl now has a concealed carry permit for his 9mm Beretta.  The permit works all around the state of Wisconsin, but traveling is a different story.

"I just want to exercise my right to be armed when I choose to be," Danzl said.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - Police think a man caused a deadly crash while driving high in Vilas County this winter.  He now faces homicide and drug possession felonies.

Prosecutors filed charges against Tyler Metz, 19, on May 14.

Metz, who lives in Douglas County, was involved in a head-on crash on Highway 51 at Bakken Road in the township of Boulder Junction on Jan. 23.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAHAWK - Tomahawk's Main Street organization thinks a big part of making its downtown beautiful is the flower baskets that hang every summer.

But the 32 baskets take a lot of volunteer power to keep watered.

This year, the downtown will display flowers in new, self-watering baskets. They'll only need to be watered every three or four days, instead of every day.

"Beautification is always a focal point of any great downtown. You want to bring in something that's very inviting, very community-orientated, and who doesn't love flowers?" said Tomahawk Main Street Executive Director Aimee Dickrell.

+ Read More

UPDATE: Passengers who were supposed to arrive in Rhinelander at 3:15 p.m. will be able to take a flight out of Minneapolis that will arrive late Monday evening. 

A broken underground power cable at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport delayed a flight set to arrive in Rhinelander from Minneapolis Monday afternoon. 

Around 1:30 p.m., workers noticed malfunctioning equipment in the weather station at the airport, which affects navigation. 

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - The Ace Hardware store in Merrill employs a few veterans on its 17-person staff.

But it plans to do even more for veterans this Saturday.

It will give away American flags to the first 240 customers to its store. Ace will also donate 200 flags to the local VFW post, something it did last year for the first time.

"It was really gratifying to see how much the VFW post was really honored by it and just thanked us so profusely," said Merrill Ace Hardware owner Tim Haight. "Ace is all about honoring American veterans."

The Merrill store will join Ace stores across the country on Saturday. Together, they intend to give away one million American flags.

The Flying Aces fighter pilots in World War I inspired the name for Ace stores.

+ Read More
+ More General News