Cost per student Mercer $25,097,
Wis. $13,505, Nation $11,762
ACT comp. score Mercer 17.0,
Wis. 19.6, Lakeland UHS 20.0,
Hurley 18.7; perfect score 36.0
Mercer DPI Report Card score
lowest of all 421 Wis. districts

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Waning of an Autocracy
In what may signal an end to control of the Mercer School Board by Administrator Erik Torkelson, two newly elected Board members were installed, and new officers elected at Monday night’s Board meeting.
Newly elected Jim Hannemann and Bob Davis took seats on the Board, and Bob Davis was elected Board president.  Karl Anderson was elected vice president, Jim Hannemann treasurer and Micki Pierce Holmstrom secretary.
Until three years ago, the five-member Board was totally controlled by Administrator Erik Torkelson, with all Board members blindly doing as he commanded.  That began to change three years ago with the election to the Board of Christa Reinert, who unseated Denise Thompson, owner of Tom’s CafĂ© in Mercer and a long-time supporter of Torkelson.  Torkelson had given Thompson’s daughter-in-law, Tricia Thompson, the very lucrative position of school business manager.
Christa began a relentless campaign of trying to restore sadly lacking honesty and transparency to the Board and administration.  She was consistently denied public records which she should have routinely received as a School Board member.
Then, a year ago, another advocate for honesty and transparency, Karl Anderson, was elected to the Board by unseating Torkelson’s mother-in-law, Kelly Kohegyi.
At this time, the School Board is comprised of Karl and Jim, who stand firmly for performing in the best interest of students and community, and Micki Pierce-Holmstrom, owner of Century 21 Pierce Realty in Mercer. She is the only remaining Board member whose loyalty seems to be to Torkelson. 
The jury is still out on where newly elected fourth member of the Board member Bob Davis will stand in supporting the failed administration.  Davis must overcome being identified with a group of Torkelson aficionados that ran a smear campaign to unseat Christa Reinert.  Davis repeated some of their many Christa falsehoods and even unwisely called the group “wonderful people”.  
The smear campaign strategy was mapped out by Torkelson and implemented by the Committee for Positive Action (aka Deanna Pierpont) and Micah Magma (aka Bill Brundage). Their divisive and dishonest efforts were successful and kept Christa from retaining her Board seat by only a mere 20 votes.  
The fifth seat on the Board, vacated by the resignation of Noel Brandt, will need to be filled by the present four Board members. Given the integrity of at least three of them, the prospect appears good in selecting a well-qualified and honest Board member. 
Also, at Monday night’s School Board meeting, Jim Hannemann proposed reviving the video recording of Board meetings and again making them available for public viewing.  The Board had recorded its meetings for the public from November 2016 through October 2017. The October 2017 meeting video was erased by then Board member Deanna Pierpont and further recording of meetings was stopped.  Pierpont’s action became an issue in the recently dismissed criminal court cases.
Jim’s proposal, along with another requesting that Board meeting minutes be posted within five days of a Board meeting, was tabled until the May meeting at the request of Davis who said he wanted to check the legality of the actions.  Wisconsin statutes do not prohibit the video recording of School Board meetings, and, in fact, protect them as public records once they are recorded.
After a 1-1/2 hour-long closed session, the Board approved a tentative settlement of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction earlier findings that $175,248 of Community Service Fund 80 had been misspent.  Terms of the settlement will be made public following some revisions.


  1. It better come out of Torkelson's pocket and those he doled the the money out to.

    Not the taxpayers.

  2. Oh I forgot there are pictures and a video of that for evidence