Train Derailment Near Merrill; Avoid Scene near Center Ave
Published on 06/16/2021 under News A train derailed in Merrill early Wednesday morning and officials are asking the public to avoid the area at this time. According to an update from the Merrill Police Department, that train derailed near the Center Avenue viaduct. Recovery and repair crews will be working throughout the day to clear the area.  The police department notes that it is an active scene and they don't need the added complication of onlookers whether by foot or vehicle. They also highlight the dangers when operations are underway. As a result, access to the Agra Pavilion parking area is currently blocked. No update was provided on what caused the derailment. No injuries were reported.
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Tomahawk Considering Police/Fire Needs Study Ahead of Kaphaem Road Property Decision
Published on 06/16/2021 under News A City of Tomahawk committee established to determine the future of a newly acquired building will take some additional time to determine the city's emergency services needs before moving forward. For years, the city has explored a potential new location for a new fire station. Back in January, the City acquired the former Lincoln Industries building from the County for a dollar. They envisioned the possibility of moving the fire station to the new location, with the potential for a larger public safety building as well. At their meeting last night, an ad-hoc committee, made up of 7 of the 9 council members, considered a proposal from Five Bugles design to conduct a feasibility study on the city's fire response needs at the current location and the potential for the new building. Last night's hour-long discussion revealed the council members had different ideas on what direction the city should take going forward. Ideas discussed at the meeting included retrofitting the existing building or building an entirely new building on the property for a fire station alone. Large scale options could include adding the police department to the building design or shuffling additional city properties and utilizing the Kaphaem Road land for additional city needs. With more questions than answers, the committee members determined that the study would provide important information on their options going forward. The study proposal, as presented last night, only involved the fire department. With the police department potentially included, the committee members requested Five Bugles bring back a new proposal which would incorporate police in the study. A representative on hand from Five Bugles said an updated proposal could be brought back in a few days for the committee to consider. If approved, the study would take 2-3 months to complete. Last night's meeting was just the second since the committee was established, and the first since January.
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Rep. Callahan Encourages Eligible Communities Apply for Recovery Funds
Published on 06/16/2021 under News Millions of dollars remain available to municipalities from covid relief funds, and one Northwoods legislator is reminding local officials in his district of the quickly approaching application deadline. The Local Government Recovery Funds come from the American Rescue Plan Act. They've been set aside to help support public health expenditures, negative economic impacts caused by the pandemic, replace lost public sector revenue, provide premium pay for essential workers, and invest in water, sewer, and broadband. Statewide, around 1,200 eligible municipalities have yet to file. That includes 39 municipalities in Representative Calvin Callahan's 35th assembly district. Callahan says, "This funding could have a huge impact on many communities in the 35th Assembly District." Those 39 municipalities could miss out on a combined $3.6 million. These outstanding funds ranged from $11,000 in the Town of Somo up to $800,000 for the City of Antigo. Callahan said in reaching out to those who hadn't applied, the main issue he's heard is that they weren't aware of the funding. He says, "I encourage any municipality in the district that has not yet applied, please do so as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact my office." The deadline for municipalities to apply is coming up on Friday.
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Rhinelander Chamber/Forward Rhinelander Seeking "Best of" Winners
Published on 06/16/2021 under News The Rhinelander Chamber and Forward Rhinelander are looking to find favorite places throughout the community. Earlier this month, the two groups brought back their Best of Rhinelander competition. They're asking community members and visitors to take part in a short survey to identify the "Best of..." in 32 different categories. They range from best trails and lakes to best fish fry and best location for a date. A few unique categories include hidden gems and best Instagram worthy photo location. Winners will be featured on the Chamber and Forward Rhinelander social media accounts. They'll also be recognized at the Chamber's Business After 5 event. The survey launched earlier this month and voting runs through next Monday. We'll include a link in the online version of the story.
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DNR: Wildfire Risk Remains High thru Much of State
Published on 06/16/2021 under News Despite last week's heavy rains, the state of Wisconsin remains dry and fire dangers are rising once again. Yesterday, the DNR sent out an announcement asking the public to remain vigilant and avoid burning due to high fire danger across large portions of the state. While moderate to severe drought conditions are showing up in southern and western Wisconsin, the fire danger encompasses nearly the entire state. Much of the Northwoods was listed in moderate fire danger as of Wednesday morning including Lincoln, Vilas, Oneida, Price, and Taylor Counties. According to their wildfire tracker, the DNR has already responded to two small wildfires this week in Lincoln and Oneida Counties. The state has seen an extended wildfire season in 2021. The DNR has responded to 765 wildfires which have burned more than 1,900 acres.
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Former Oneida County Corrections Officer Reaches Plea for Lewd Behavior
Published on 06/16/2021 under News A former Oneida County corrections officer accused of solicitation of a female inmate has reached a plea deal. Jacob Petitt was back in Oneida County Court yesterday for a plea and sentencing hearing. The 26 year old was originally charged with solicitation of prostitution and misconduct in public office. Petitt was arrested in January after investigators said he exchanged information about drug investigations for sexual favors. At yesterday's hearing, Petitt pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of lewd behavior. The misconduct in public office charge was dismissed, but considered during sentencing. According to sentencing records, Petitt was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine along with court costs. He will avoid any jail time.
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Nicolet Named 'Promising Place to Work' by National Diversity Groups
Published on 06/15/2021 under News For the second consecutive year, Nicolet College has been named a 'Promising Places to Work' award winner by two national organizations that support diversity efforts by community colleges across the country. The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development partnered with Diverse: Issues in Higher Education to recognize Nicolet for its  "best-in-class student and staff recruitment and retention practices, inclusive learning and working environments, and meaningful community service and engagement opportunities." The school highlighted several recent efforts that contributed to the award including their 10 member diversity, equity and inclusion committee, interviewer bias training on hiring committees, and professional development workshops by indigenous presenters. They've been able to utilize a grant from the Lumina Foundation to build clearer pathways to degrees for adults, particularly those of color or Native America Learners. Nicolet also works with the Wisconsin Indian Education Association to implement 'The Many Ways of Knowing: American Indian Culture Competencies for Community College Career Pathways' 'project. Nicolet was the only college in Wisconsin and one of 16 across the country to receive the honor in the two most recent years.
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Update: Victims Identified in Fatal Brokaw Crash
Published on 06/15/2021 under News Officials have released the names of the two victims in a fatal crash this weekend in Brokaw. According to the Wisconsin State Patrol, that three vehicle collision happened Sunday afternoon on Highway 51 South. The initial investigation showed the first SUV rear-ended a second, sending that vehicle forward into a third SUV. The two backseat passengers in the middle vehicle sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene. Yesterday, the State Patrol identified the victims as 88 year old Ralph Rosenbecker and 99 year old Darlene Rosenbecker. Both are from Mukwonago. Between the three vehicles, there were five other occupants. None listed further injuries from the crash. The Wisconsin State Patrol and the Marathon County Sheriff's Office continue to investigate.
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Blood Donations Encouraged Ahead of Summer; Declining Inventory
Published on 06/15/2021 under News Officials are encouraging blood donations with a dwindling inventory ahead of their busiest season. On Monday, the American Red Cross highlighted a "severe blood shortage" on World Blood Donor Day, recognized yesterday. They note that hospitals are currently responding to an atypically high number of traumas and emergency room visits. And this year, they note that more patients are being treated at hospitals after deferring their care during the pandemic. This comes ahead of the summer, which is typically when blood donations are most in demand due to travel and other summer activities. Dr. Baia Lasky is medical director with the Red Cross. Lasky says, "As many people begin to enjoy travel and time with loved ones again this summer, patients are relying on the generosity of donors to help ensure they have access to the treatment they need." We routinely post local blood drives in the WJJQ Community Calendar including both the American Red Cross and Community Blood Center.
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Local Communities Planning for 'Normal' 4th of July Celebrations
Published on 06/15/2021 under News The Fourth of July is less than a month away. After a one year pause due to the pandemic, a number of Northwoods celebrations will return in 2021. Last year, most July 4th celebrations in the Northwoods were postponed. Local organizers have been busy planning for a return this Independence Day. We've recently received schedules for a number of community celebrations. The latest came from Merrill City Administrator David Johnson. On Monday, he confirmed that the annual Merrill fireworks show would return this year. A bit further north, the respective Chambers in Eagle River, Rhinelander, and Minocqua have all shared their 4th of July parades will be back and they are accepting parade entries. As we've mentioned a number of times here on WJJQ, the Tomahawk Lions Club have been busy planning this year's Powwow Days celebration as well. Of course, we'll be covering these events as they approach.
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14 Projects Receive Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Grants; Two Local Recipients
Published on 06/15/2021 under News Fourteen food projects across Wisconsin have been selected to receive grants through the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin  program including two here in the Northern Wisconsin. The grants are administered through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The program is designed to strengthen Wisconsin's agriculture and food industries by helping farms and businesses more efficiently process, market,and distribute locally grown foods and products. Kara Kasten-Olson, DATCP Agriculture Programs Supervisor says, "These grants are intended to support the diverse sectors of Wisconsin agriculture, and outcomes generated by the grant recipients provide benefits to local communities and serve as models for others in the food industry." The 14 recipients were selected from 37 requests. Together they'll share $300,000. Local recipients include: 45 Mercantile in Antigo- Increasing processing and sales capacity and creating branding, website, signage,and photography for featured products and e-commerce Forest Co. Potawatomi Comm. in Crandon- Increasing farm-related opportunities and purchasing necessary supplies and materials.
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Two Dead in Multi-vehicle Crash on Hwy 51 in Brokaw
Published on 06/14/2021 under News Two people are dead in a multi-vehicle crash in Northern Marathon County Sunday afternoon. According to a news release from the Wisconsin State Patrol, that crash happened at shortly before 1:30pm on southbound Highway 51 in Brokaw. Three SUVs were involved. According to the initial report, the first vehicle rear-ended the second, sending it forward into a third vehicle. According to the trooper's report two occupants in the rear seat of the middle vehicle were severely injured and pronounced dead at the scene. Names of those involved were not immediately released. The two victims were listed as an 88 year old male and 99 year old female from Mukwonago. No other injuries were reported among the 5 other vehicle occupants. The crash remains under investigation.
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Overnight Fire at Sting Ray's in Arbor Vitae
Published on 06/14/2021 under News Firefighters responded to a blaze at an Arbor Vitae restaurant over night. According to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office, crews were called to Sting Ray's Bar and Grill for that fire at shortly before 1am this morning. Firefighters arrived to find the building fully involved. Multiple agencies provided mutual aid and they were able to contain the fire from spreading to nearby structures. The building is considered a total loss. The business was closed at the time and no injuries were reported. Highway 51 was closed for several hours while crews were on the scene. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
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Lincoln County Sheriff Report: Residents Fall Victim to Craigslist Scam
Published on 06/14/2021 under News A Lincoln County couple fell victim to a Craigslist scam this past week. According to the Sheriff's Office, the couple were attempting to buy a pontoon boat, but after wiring the seller over $13,000 communications stopped. In investigating the incident, the Sheriff's Office highlighted several red flags that consumers should watch for. The seller refused to meet in person which they said was due to the pandemic. They also would only communicate by email, which included grammatical and spelling errors, despite claiming to be a broker. And the offer seemed too good to be true, a 14 year old boat described in pristine condition. The Sheriff's Office says they have turned the case over to the FBI, but noted it is unlikely the victims will be able to recover their lost money. Lincoln County Sheriff's Office Weekly Report The Sheriff's Office was kept busy with the storms in the area last week. The system that passed through the area Thursday evening caused problems mainly in the northern half of the county. Numerous complaints of trees that had fallen over the roadways, some of which caused minor fires and took down wires were received by the 911 center. Traffic on US Hwy 8 was shut down for some time after a semi left the roadway and entered the ditch during torrential rain. In total, the 911 center received over 40 calls for service in about three hours related to the storm. On Friday significant rain caused problems mostly south of Merrill where roads were reported to be washing out. A 49 year old Irma man was arrested Friday evening on multiple charges to include: disorderly conduct, criminal damage to property, battery and strangulation/suffocation after a deputy investigated a disturbance in the Town of Skanawan. A 19 year old Merrill man was cited Sunday morning for a first offense of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in the Town of Merrill. A 30 year old man from Oak Lawn, IL was cited for driving an ATV while intoxicated on County Rd A north of the City of Tomahawk at around 4:00 AM Sunday morning. The number of deer crashes are on the rise with eleven being reported last week. Three of those crashes were reported within 12 minutes of each other on US Hwy 51 on Thursday. Two motorists also reported striking bear in Lincoln County.
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400+ Mile Grabaawr Bike Ride Pedals Through Tomahawk
Published on 06/14/2021 under News Hundreds of bicyclists left yesterday on an annual ride taking them on a week long tour of the state along the Wisconsin River. It's all part of the GReat Annual Bicycle Adventure Along the Wisconsin River or GRABAAWR. The tour starts at the headwaters of the Wisconsin River in Eagle River. Organizers say the route will follow low-traffic roads along the 427-mile length of the river as it winds through the state. Each day the peddlers travel between 55 and 85 miles. Yesterday they left from Eagle River and traveled the 70 miles to Tomahawk where they set up camp at SARA Park. This morning they head south to Wausau. Ultimately, the journey will take the cyclists to Southwestern Wisconsin where they'll arrive in Prairie du Chein by next weekend.
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