Merrill brings experience to Wolfforth Council

Julie Merrill’s rise to a city councilwoman in Wolfforth might have been unexpected by those who knew her when she was a youth in Durango, Colo.

Merrill went off to a two-year college in Idaho now known as Brigham Young University-Idaho, and decided to change from a shy girl into a more extroverted woman.

And just that easily, she did, with few people she knew from Colorado around her. She got involved in student government there, and also met her future husband, Junius Merrill.

After completing a bachelor’s degree in family science from the main campus of BYU in Utah, Merrill settled into a life of raising her four children and caring for their home.

“My main job is to be a wife and a mom, and I think that’s most important,” she said.

Part of that job led her to working with her neighbors to help build the Frenship Mesa Park in Wolfforth. Merrill said she and other moms got together to watch their kids play, and they would slide down a dirt hill again and again. The moms decided they needed a park.

Merrill marvels at how she somehow got into a position of authority in the first meeting of neighbors about how to get the park together. No one stepped forward, so she, Andy Bridges and Wolfforth Councilman Randy Gross were given the responsibility. Her job was to organize the neighbors’ efforts.

Using donated land, city advice, residents’ elbow grease and several Boy Scouts seeking an Eagle Scout community project, the park eventually went from an empty lot to a park. The Frenship Mesa neighborhood, located south of Frenship High School, was named the national 2009 Neighborhood of the Year by the Neighborhoods, USA organization for its physical revitalization of a single neighborhood.

“It started with the park, and that just shows how powerful women can be,” Merrill said. “It was a great experience.”

Her involvement with the park seemed to bring recognition of her organizational skills. Soon she was asked to help lead the Wolfforth Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, and she spent a year as co-president alongside Shawndelle Kreger.

As a council member, Merrill said she believes she will bring a different perspective to the council. But she has already started asking questions about other projects she has been involved in with the city, including its comprehensive planning committee.

When she started thinking about running for the council, her husband was very encouraging. She started attending every meeting of the council way before it was possible to even sign up as a candidate, she said.

Merrill said she hopes not to serve a long tenure on the council. She would like to see more people involved in local government.

“Anyone can serve. If you have a willing heart and you’re a hard worker, you can do a lot,” she said.

Merrill came to Wolfforth nine years ago with her husband, Junius, and their children, who range in age from 7-18. He had gotten a job in Lubbock coordinating seminary teachers for high school teachers through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also is an adjunct professor at Texas Tech Institute of Religion.

She is currently the president of the Relief Society in the Lubbock stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has also served as a Boy Scout den mother and a Sunday school teacher.

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