Speed Limit Reduction for Short Stretch of County L in Nokomis Published on 06/20/2019 under News Drivers in the Nokomis area may have to pump the brakes after a speed limit change.

Signs have now gone up on a segment of County Highway L this week reducing the speed limit from 55 miles per hour down to 45 miles per hour. The change affects approximately 4 miles in the southern portion County L in Oneida County from the Lincoln County Line, north to just beyond Nokomis Park.

The item was taken up by the Oneida County Public Works Committee last week.

The driving factor was safety. That stretch includes a number of businesses with parking lot access from the road. The highway was also opened to ATV traffic in recent years. The speed limit for those machines is 35 miles per hour.

An online petition was circulated that gathered more than 800 signatures supporting the change. Another 400 signatures were collected via a traditional paper petition.

In Other News

Wausau Police Hope Video Clears Up Snowball Misconceptions; Goes Viral
Published on 12/06/2019 under News The Wausau Police Department is looking to go viral to clear up misconceptions regarding snowball use in the city. Coverage of a news story regarding snowballs in the city reached national coverage. In response, the Department posted a Facebook video feature Deputy Chief Matt Barnes and a cameo from Mayor Robert Mielke. Barnes noted the ordinance being addressed was actually passed in 1962 and included the throwing or launching of a number projectiles. He says a number of communities have similar ordinances. Discretion is often used in enforcement based on the safety of the public. He says in the video that just two incidents involving snowballs have cited in the past 15 years. Each involved snowballs being thrown at moving vehicles. While Barnes is addressing the camera, a number of police officers are having a friendly snowball fight in the background, often coming close to Barnes. To end the video, Barnes joins in, with a direct hit on the Mayor. Within twelve hours, the video already had more than 150,000 views, 2,000 likes and 350 comments. We've re-posted that video on the WJJQ Facebook Page.
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Multiple Local Organizations Receive Grants from Packer Foundation
Published on 12/06/2019 under News Yesterday, we told you about a Green Bay Packer Foundation grant awarded to the Friends of the River Bend Trail in Merrill. They weren't the only Northwoods group to benefit from the Packer Foundation Wednesday. Overall, the Foundation donated $1 million to 192 organizations across the state Wednesday. Wild Instincts animal rehabilitation in Rhinelander was awarded a $6000 grant. They said via a social media post that the money will go to renovate their otter enclosure. Other local groups receiving funding include: Langlade Hospital-Hotel Dieu Of St Joseph Of Antigo, Huey's Hideaway Children's Museum in Medford and the Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation Inc This year's grant cycle focused on organizations dedicated to animal welfare, civic and community, environmental, health and wellness including drug/alcohol and domestic violence causes. In 2020, the focus will be on groups addressing the elderly, homelessness, human services, and hunger causes.
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AG Kaul Comments on Darnick Conviction; Sexual Assault Kit Testing
Published on 12/06/2019 under News As he continues to push for standardized testing procedures for sexual assault kits, the state's Attorney General commented on a recent conviction in Oneida County. On Wednesday, a jury found Brandon Darnick guilty of first degree child sex assault-sexual contact with a person under the age of 13. The incidents, involving a then-2 year old boy, occurred in 2013. The Department of Justice says the sexual assault kit taken at the time of the incident wasn't tested until 2018. That kit eventually led to Darnick's arrest last fall. Attorney General Josh Kaul said, "Because of the commitment to justice of many public servants and a brave survivor, a child sex offender had been convicted. This case demonstrates yet again why a backlog of untested sexual assault kits is totally unacceptable." Earlier this week, Kaul held a news conference urging the Assembly to take up a bill setting up deadlines for testing kits. As for Darnick, a sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. He could receive up to 40 years of prison.
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New Tree Lighting Highlights Merrill Christmas Kick-Off
Published on 12/06/2019 under News The Merrill community will kick off the holiday season with a number of Christmas activities culminating with the lighting of their brand new Christmas tree. That tree is already standing at the Banker's Square Pocket Park in downtown, waiting for Saturday to be lit. We recently heard from Debbe Kinsey at the Merrill Chamber. She says, "We have struggled for several years with Christmas decorations at the courthouse ever since the large trees died and were removed." Kinsey says with the development of the Pocket Park, the first thing they talked about was a center piece for a large Christmas tree, with the $10,000 price tag a sticking point. However, thanks to a grant from the Bierman Family Foundation and several downtown businesses, the chamber was able to purchase the 18 foot tall tree. Coincidentally, the new Merrill Community Christmas tree debuts one week after a new tree tradition in Tomahawk. Last weekend, the Hometown Christmas Committee debuted a new tradition to place a harvested tree into a new permanent tree stand located in the boulevard at the end of Main Street. The tree lighting ceremony is set for 6pm at the close of the annual Merrill Christmas Parade which begins at 5pm.
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Tomahawk St. Mary's Choir Preparing for Sunday Concert
Published on 12/06/2019 under News Coming up this weekend, the St. Mary's Choir will ring in the holiday spirit with their annual Advent Concert. We were recently joined by several of the member of the choir in the lead up to this weekend's performance including Jan Huseby, Lynn Grube and Tom Pederson. They said that this year's the theme is "Joy has Dawned." Grube says that songs will focus on joy, peace, hope, and love. The first half of the show will be a selection of unrelated songs, while the second half is a cantata or connected grouping of songs. While some of the organizers work and prepare year round, even the choir has been rehearsing since Labor Day. Each year the choir seems to grow by a few people in the 80 member range. While they are primarily from St. Mary's, some are commuting from as far away as Madison. To accommodate, Huseby says they've utilized Skype to "attend" some of the practices. In recent year's the Sunday concert has been standing room only so they recommend arriving early to get a seat. Harp music (another new addition) will begin at 3pm, with the concert at 4pm. Admission is a free will offering. We'll once again be recording the concert to bring back to our listeners on Christmas Eve.
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Preview:Hatchet Hockey Open Conference Schedule vs. Lakeland Union
Published on 12/05/2019 under Sports The Tomahawk Hatchets open their conference schedule tonight, when they play host to Lakeland Union. The Hatchets (1-1), look to get back on track after a week off and getting shut out by Wausau East-Merrill United last Tuesday. The Hatchets have an opportunity to get back in the win column against a team in Lakeland Union who they have matched up relatively evenly in the past number of years, splitting both meetings in the regular season the last two seasons. On the other side, the Thunderbirds (2-1) are coming off a 4-2 win over that same Wausau-Merrill team Tuesday night. Lakeland Union was lead by junior forward Max Toijala, who finished the game with two goals and an assist, and pushed his team lead of points and goals to seven points and five goals. The puck will drop at 7 P.M. at Sara Park Arena.
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Merrill Fire Department Participates in “Keep the Wreath Green”
Published on 12/05/2019 under News A number of fire departments across the region are displaying a festive reminder of fire safety during the holiday season. We recently heard from Jon Leiskau with the Merrill Fire Department which will once again participate in the "Keep the Wreath Green" campaign. The campaign starts on Thanksgiving with a simple wreath, lit with green bulbs. Those bulbs are replaced with a red bulb for each fire responded to. Leiskau says, "The purpose of the wreath is to give a visual reminder of the importance of fire safety during the holiday season and to remind residents to use extra caution to prevent fires." He continued, "A house fire is traumatic no matter what time of the year; however, they can be even more devastating when they happen during the holiday season." The Department offered up a few helpful tips for doing your part in preventing fires. That includes: keeping your tree watered, not having open flames or candles near flammable materials, being careful not to overload electrical outlets, and not leaving cooking processes unattended. The Merrill wreath has two additional bulbs one white and one blue. The white bulb represents fallen firefighters, while the blue bulb signifies fallen law enforcement. The wreath will remain displayed at the fire station through New Years, hopefully remaining green.
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Merrill Riverbend Trail Receives Donation from Packer Foundation
Published on 12/05/2019 under News A planned "naturalized playground" in Merrill received a boost from the Green Bay Packers Wednesday. Representatives from the Friends of the River Bend Trail attended the Packer Foundation luncheon yesterday. Tammy Duwe and Brenda Mueller from the Friends group accepted a $5,000 check from the Packer Foundation and Packer CEO Mark Murphy to help with the Tyler's Playground project. The Merrill Chamber says the plans for the park have been in the works since they received the donation of land in 2013. The naturalized playground will consist of climbing and natural play areas. They envision pods that include activities such as a tree house, a wooden bridge, stepping logs and a rock garden. The park will also have an emphasis on mental health awareness. Overall, the Packer Foundation donated $1 million to 192 organizations across the state yesterday.
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Tomahawk Woman Sentenced in Ashland County 'Meth Farm'
Published on 12/05/2019 under News A Tomahawk woman was sentenced to five and a half years in federal prison for her role in a methamphetamine distribution ring in Ashland County. According to the US Attorney's Office, 64 year old Becky Peterson pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. Investigators says Peterson, along with Mark Moore, were engaged in a years-long operation to distribute the drug from an 80 acre farm near Butternut. They said an undercover agent made purchases of meth between August 2017 and June of last year. During the course of these buys, Moore stated that Peterson set the prices and weighed and packaged the methamphetamine for sale.  Moore also stated on several occasions that he needed to confirm with Peterson whether he could give a discount for large quantity sales. At the sentencing, the judge said "while Peterson's age and health were mitigating considerations, they were not a free pass to commit crime," and he "wasn't fully confident that she might not re-offend given that she had a past drug trafficking conviction." Moore had previously received a similar sentence. The court also ordered the forfeiture of the farm as well as the $13,000 in cash recovered during the arrest.
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Oneida County Jury Convicts Darnick of Child Sexual Assault
Published on 12/05/2019 under News An Eau Claire man has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a child in Oneida County in 2013. A jury took less than three hours to return a guilty verdict for Brandon Darnick. The 27 year old was facing a single count of first-degree sexual assault of a child. Darnick was arrested last fall as the state began to test a backlog of sexual assault kits in the state. The DNA evidence linked Darnick to the assault of a then two year old boy. Darnick had a connection with the boy's mother. Following the verdict, Darnick was taken into custody. A sentencing date wasn't immediately scheduled.
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