Officials Encourage Life Jacket Use When Boating this Summer Published on 05/25/2023 under News
As summer approaches, more people are heading out onto Wisconsin waterways. Officials are encouraging boaters to always wear a life jacket.

As part of National Safe Boating Week, the DNR offered up a reminder that safety is an important part of water recreation fun. State law requires that all vessels must have at least one wearable life jacket for each person on board. That includes boats like kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards.

Rather than simply carrying life vests aboard the boat, officials recommend wearing them when on the water. Lt. Darren Kuhn, DNR Boating Law Administrator, "When something goes wrong, it's too late to put a life jacket on if you aren't already wearing it."

Last year the DNR investigated 20 fatal boating incidents. In nearly every case, the victim was not wearing a life jacket at the time. Today's life jackets are much more comfortable, and they even make activity specific life preservers such as kayak life jackets that are cut higher for more mobility.

In addition to life jacket safety, the DNR recommends a general boat check before you launch. Make sure lights are functional, registration is current, and other safety features are in place. Just like drivers on the road, the DNR says boat operators should remain sober and slow down. It's also a good idea to monitor the weather and let someone know where you're going.

In Other News

Rhinelander Celebrates Hodag Heritage Festival
Published on 05/17/2024 under News Rhinelander and the Hodag are somewhat synonymous. This week has been set aside to celebrate the mythical creature. It's time once again for the Hodag Heritage Festival, the fourth edition. The Rhinelander Chamber and their many partner businesses, organizations and volunteers have been busy preparing for the day-long celebration on Saturday. Over the past few days, they've had some scavenger hunts and art competitions. This evening, they'll re-dedicate the Hodag Historical Marker at Hodag Park. The small monument was recently refurbished and they'll host an unveiling at 6:30 Friday. It all leads into Saturday. Chamber Director of Events Rachel Boehlen says they've arranged more attractions than ever before, adding, "There is truly something for everyone." The defining link are the themes of hodag and community. An action packed Saturday will include the Hodag History Bus Tours, guest speakers, family friendly activities, food and entertainment, even a hodag calling contest. And while these events are centered around Rhinelander, the hodag will be recognized around the entire state. Govern Evers has once again declared Saturday as Hodag Day in Wisconsin. A full schedule of Saturday's events is available on the Chamber website, and they've also created a Hodag Heritage Festival Facebook page.
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THS Spring Children's Play Inspired by Aesop's Fables
Published on 05/17/2024 under News The Tomahawk High School Drama Department will take to the stage one last time this school year with a twist on some classic tales. For their annual spring Children's Play, the THS students will present 'A Bagful of Fables'. We heard from director Michele Balda ahead of this evening's public performance. This year's production is a spin on the works of the man most associated with fables, Aesop. Four of his many tales be featured: The Fox and the Crow; The Fox and the Grapes; The Tortoise and the Hare; and The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. More than a dozen THS students will take to to the stage.  Balda highlighted a trio of outgoing seniors in their final high school production: AJ Schertz, Xan Sutton, and Murphy Koth, the latter taking on the role of Aesop. Throughout the school day, they'll perform for St. Marys, Tomahawk Elementary, and Tomahawk Middle School. Then tonight it's a public performance at 7pm. Admission is free, but a goodwill donation is welcome. After the play, the THS Fine Arts Awards will take place recognizing the drama and forensics students for their efforts this school year.
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WPS Announces Results of Olympic-Themed Peregrine Falcon Naming Contest; 'Birdie Blair' Tops List
Published on 05/17/2024 under News Bonnie Blair won five Olympic gold medals, now the champion-speedskater has inspired another winner...the name of a new peregrine falcon chick. It's all part of the annual naming contest, held each spring for the peregrine falcons hatched in nesting boxes at Wisconsin Public Service and WeEnergies facilities around the state. Each year the utilities hold naming contests, offering the public a chance to select the monikers for the new clutch. With the summer Olympic games right around the corner, the theme was Olympians with Wisconsin ties. They received more than 10,000 votes with 'Birdie Blair' in the top spot. In addition to the names, WPS also provided an update on the peregrine falcon eggs. Eight of the ten have actually hatched, with the two remaining from the northern birds, utilizing the Weston Power Plant nesting box near Wausau. Those eggs were only recently laid and have another month or so before hatching. Overall ten names were selected: •Birdie Blair — in honor of five-time gold-medal speedskater and Wisconsin resident Bonnie Blair-Cruikshank. •Hero — in honor of Wisconsin's Special Olympics Athletes. •Warrior — in honor of Wisconsin's Paralympic athletes. •Trapper — in honor of sportshooter and Waterford native Madelynn Bernau. •Fitz — in honor of Casey FitzRandolph, a Verona native who won gold in speedskating at the 2002 Winter Games. •Khash — in honor of gold-medal and NBA championship-winning basketball star Khris Middleton. •Miracle — in honor of the Wisconsinites on the 1980 men's hockey team. •Puck — in honor of the many UW grads who have played on the women's national hockey team. •Champ — in honor of gold-medal winning speedskater and West Allis native Dan Jansen. •Glider — in honor of speedskater and Milwaukee resident Brian Hansen.
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Case Moves Forward for Langlade County Treasurer Charged with Embezzling Town, Fire Funds
Published on 05/17/2024 under News The case will move forward for a Langlade County man charged with taking funds from his township and fire service where he served as treasurer. Gary Kieper was back in Langlade County Court Thursday for a preliminary hearing and arraignment. The 69 year old is facing 9 felonies including multiple counts of theft in a business setting and misconduct in public office. Kieper was arrested in March following an investigation by the Langlade County Sheriff's Office. They were asked to look into the mishandling of money from the Town of Ackley and the Rural Fire Control. Detectives said they found more than $300,000 had been transferred for those accounts and into personal accounts belonging to Kieper. At yesterday's hearing, the judge ruled there is enough evidence for the case to proceed and Kieper entered pleas of 'not guilty' A status hearing has been scheduled for July 26.
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State Partners Launch Updated Spongy Moth Information Website
Published on 05/17/2024 under News Unfortunately, the spongy moth and its hungry caterpillars have established a foothold across much of Wisconsin. The state recently launched a new, updated website providing information on the invasive insect. Known as the Spongy Moth Resource Center, the website is a collaborative effort between the DNR, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and the UW-Extension. According to the DNR, visitors will be able to learn about identifying spongy moth caterpillars versus native species; control or treatment options for landowners; available granting funding; quarantine zones and aerial treatment schedules. In the announcement, the DNR says experts anticipate another busy spring and summer of spongy moth caterpillar activity. Formerly known as the gypsy moth, the caterpillars are known to strip shrubs and trees of their foliage, which can eventually kill the infested plants. The state agencies will also continue operating the Wisconsin Spongy Moth Hotline, and we'll include a link to their new informational website.
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Fisheries Students Attend Bootcamp at Northern Highland Fisheries Research Areas
Published on 05/17/2024 under News A group of future fisheries professionals got some hands-on work here in the Northwoods. Each spring, the Northern Highland Fisheries Research Area hosts a bootcamp for students pursing careers in the field. Comprised of five undeveloped lakes near Boulder Junction, the property serves as a valuable tool for both educational and research purposes. This year, the bootcamp was spread out across two weekends, and 14 students from Wisconsin colleges and universities took part in the immersive educational experience. Among the topics were spring survey techniques, taking biological samples, measurements, and determining the sex of fish, even radio telemetry. The DNR says the Fisheries Bootcamp would not be a beloved tradition without the support of the American Fisheries Society, whose Wisconsin chapter provides financial assistance to all students in attendance. While the five lakes are part of a research area, they are also open to public fishing. Anglers can sign in, fish the lakes, and provide valuable data for the scientists and researchers.
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Hatchet Softball Team Loses to Newman
Published on 05/17/2024 under Sports Tomahawk's softball squad had their season end on a sour note at Sunnyvale Park in Wausau Thursday, losing to Newman Catholic, 11-7. The Hatchet offense provided plenty of spark, but bad fielding ultimately doomed them down the stretch. Averi Petta knocked two out of the park, which resulted in the first multi-homer game of her career.  The Hatchets finish the 2024 season with a 12-14 overall record and a 4-8 Great Northern Conference record. The Hatchets begin postseason play Tuesday for the WIAA Division 3 Regional Semifinal at Weyauwega-Fremont. Tune in for the broadcast on Sports Talk 810 AM and 100.7 FM WJJQ with the Fehrman Orthodontics Radio Pregame Show at 4:05 and first pitch at 4:30. Matt Theiler and Alex Koch will be in the broadcast booth.
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Hatchet Golf Team Finishes GNC Season
Published on 05/17/2024 under Sports Tomahawk's golf squad wrapped up their season with another sixth-place finish in Minocqua Thursday. The Hatchets finished the meet with a score of 368. Sawyer Hanna finished as the team's low golfer, placing 13th overall with a score of 85. Owen Dickrell finished second on the team with a score of 91, good for 21st overall.  Tomahawk will have their WIAA Division 2 Regional Meet at Hidden Greens North Golf Course in Solon Springs, hosted by Northwestern, Tuesday. Tee-off is at 10:00 AM.
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Merrill Preparing for Debut of 'Food Truck-a-Palooza'
Published on 05/16/2024 under News The countdown is on for a brand new event in Merrill this weekend, and attendees should bring their appetite The popularity of food trucks has exploded in recent years with these mobile restaurants now present in most Northwoods communities. It's even spawned a competition series on the Food Network. This weekend, the City of Merrill is getting in on the trend in a big way with what they've dubbed 'Food Truck-a-Palooza. With the community already the home-base for several food trucks, organizers reached out to operators from across the region for a day of good times and good food. Coming up on Saturday, they'll have more than a dozen food trucks on site at the Merrill Festival Grounds. Half are from here in Lincoln County, while other chefs will be putting on the miles, coming from Rhinelander, the Wausau area, even as far as Tigerton and Winneconne. Looking for variety no matter your favorite cuisine, they'll have food trucks that specialize in Mexican, Pizza, Thai, burgers, sandwiches and BBQ. They've even got a dessert truck. Between bites, attendees can burn off a few calories by walking through the craft and vendor show. They'll have live entertainment, a cornhole tournament, and other fun activities. For menu previews and other event details you can check out their Facebook page, or you can simply stop by the Festival Grounds throughout the day on Saturday.
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Tomahawk School District Establishing 'Raise Your Voice Club' for Mental Health
Published on 05/16/2024 under News A popular student club with a focus on mental health will be coming to Tomahawk. We've featured a number of stories on the Raise Your Voice Club. Many Northwoods schools already have chapters, including the Merrill School District which has been an area leader. At their meeting Tuesday, the Tomahawk School Board heard a presentation and approved efforts to establish a chapter here in Tomahawk. Middle school counselor Cassie Cerny has been leading the effort. She gave a brief overview. Among the goals of Raise Your Voice Club is to eliminate the stigma around mental health while breaking down barriers and building community. To gauge interest, Cerny says that set up an informational table and more than 50 students signing up between the middle and high schools. Earlier this month that held an introductory meeting to explore the direction the students wanted to pursue. She mentioned outreach including a 'color run,' mental health first aid, a mental health library, bringing in guest speakers, and a summer summit. They've also received support from Aspirus and Heritage Chevrolet to help get the program off the ground. It comes at a fitting time, as May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
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