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Accused driver had received license only weeks before deadly crash, case moves forwardSubmitted: 07/31/2014

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CRANDON - The case against an 18-year-old Laona man will go ahead after a Forest County judge found enough evidence to move forward Wednesday.

Austin Ginter, 18, faces reckless homicide charges in Forest County after a car crash killed 15-year-old Chance Harcus. Another 16-year-old girl was also injured in the July 13th car crash on Old 8 Road west of Crandon.

New information from a preliminary hearing Wednesday shows that Ginter only had his driver's license for two weeks before the crash.

Wisconsin State Patrolman Justin Bender testified for the prosecution. He was the officer that reconstructed the car crash. He says the car was going at least 114 miles per hour when the driver lost control, but could have been going as fast as 126 miles per hour.

The Special Prosecutor Jodie Bednar-Clemens argued that Ginter was driving the car without thinking of the passengers' safety.

"Clearly, when you are going 120 miles an hour, on a 35 mph road, which is extremely hilly, you're traveling over the center line, you've got somebody in the vehicle who is begging you to slow down and refusing to do it, I think that is criminal recklessness," Bednar-Clemens said.

The criminal complaint shows that the 16-year-old surviving passenger told an officer she had her eyes closed and didn't want to be there before the crash. It also said that she had told Ginter to slow down earlier in the car trip, which he did in that instance.

But the 16-year-old testified for the defense in court, and testified she never said a word to Ginter about speed or anything.

"I never begged, I never said a word (to Ginter) until I felt the car swerve," the girl said in testimony.

Brian Bennett, Ginter's defense attorney, argued that was enough to stop the case.

"That witness has been subpoenaed, she is out in the hall today and she will testify that, what the state just said is not in fact the case," Bennett said.

The surviving passenger also said the car felt like it was going 60 mph before the crash, even though her eyes were closed, but the re-creation expert from the state patrol put the speed at 114-126 mph.

The criminal complaint had also showed that the 16-year-old girl had told an officer her eyes were closed before the crash because she was nauseous.

The prosecution attributes that sickness to the extremely high speed they believe Ginter was driving, but the girl testified that was out of context.

She said she always gets nauseous while riding in cars, so she frequently closes her eyes to deal with the sickness. That became an issue with Judge Leon Stenz.

According to testimony, the car that was crashed was under the girl's father's name, but she said she was making payments for it. Stenz asked if she had the same type of nausea while she was driving. She said it did happen, but she could control it, and if she couldn't she would pull over to the side of the road.

There had also been testimony from the 16-year-old girl that Ginter was her best friend, and that he had recently moved into her family's home.

After more than an hour in court, Judge Stenz decided there was enough evidence for the case to go ahead. Ginter could spend 60 years in prison if convicted of the charges. He'll be back in court in August.


Story By: Newswatch 12 Team

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 LOCAL NEWS
Hawkins Library incorporates science into their summer reading programSubmitted: 07/31/2014

HAWKINS - You could face challenges trying to get kids to sit down and read during summer. But kids in Hawkins believe they're doing more than reading this summer. It's all part of a country wide theme called Fizz, Boom, Read.

"The whole idea is to get kids excited about reading, to keep them coming to the library to check out great books, and hopefully have some happy teachers at the end of the summer," says Hawkins Library Director Arlene Mabie.

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SPECIAL REPORT: DHS investigates Golden Age facility in Tomahawk Submitted: 07/31/2014

TOMAHAWK - We first told you about concerns about a nursing home operator in Tomahawk back in December. Now, we have new information on Golden Age in Tomahawk.

The state Department of Health and Human Services completed an investigation into the facility at the end of last month. The report became available to WJFW Thursday morning.

The 311-page report gives details into why the facility was cited for sub-standard quality of care.

Golden Age broke 21 federal nursing home rules.

The report states that nurses weren't keeping accurate records of bathroom breaks and showers for patients. Some of those patients went nearly three weeks without a shower or routine skin checks.

The state also found that at least two patients were physically restrained, which is illegal.

The facility serves patients with specific dementia care needs. Those responsible for that care were cited for not being focused enough on individual patient needs.

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Sokaogon Chippewa Health Fair draws attention to well-being on reservation with unique challengesSubmitted: 07/31/2014

MOLE LAKE - Health workers often face different challenges on the Sokaogon Chippewa reservation in Mole Lake compared to elsewhere in the Northwoods.

"I think they're a little different. We have a (few) more challenges. Sometimes, for a lot of people, it's more crisis than prevention, or preventative services," said Tammy Queen, who works at the Sokaogon Chippewa Health Clinic. "A lot of times, they'll come in when something's bad instead of coming in before something gets really bad."

On Thursday, the tribe wanted to get people thinking about their health before problems occur.

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Repairs to Mike Webster Stadium starting soonSubmitted: 07/31/2014

RHINELANDER - Renovations to Mike Webster Stadium in Rhinelander will soon get underway.

Last week, the School District of Rhinelander's Capital Projects Committee got approval for their preliminary plans for the stadium. They're looking to do many things.

One of the main projects they want to complete is to get the track fixed so the school can hold track meets again.

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 REGIONAL NEWS
Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds voter identification lawSubmitted: 07/31/2014

MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Thursday morning voters can be required to show photo identification at the polls.

But that law remains blocked by a federal court decision.

The law was struck down in April by a federal judge in Milwaukee.

His ruling is under appeal.

A federal appeals court would have act for the voter I-D law to take effect.

Four lawsuits have been filed over the law passed in 2011.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued rulings in two cases on the question Thursday morning, concluding in both that the law was constitutional.

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Law limiting collective bargaining upheldSubmitted: 07/31/2014

MADISON - After protests, recall elections and lawsuits, a state supreme court decision came down Thursday morning on the law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers.

The court has upheld the 2011 law in a split decision.

The court ruled 5-2 Thursday morning that the law is valid.

The decision came in a challenge filed by the Madison teachers union and a union representing Milwaukee public workers.

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Van Hollen still wouldn't defend domestic registrySubmitted: 07/31/2014

MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says he stands by his decision not to defend Wisconsin's domestic partner registry even though it was one of the toughest he has made in office.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court said Thursday that the registry giving limited benefits to same-sex couples does not violate the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Van Hollen says that despite the court's unanimous decision, he still believes the registry is unconstitutional.

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2 plane crashes are probably related to the EAA conventionSubmitted: 07/31/2014

OSHKOSH - There are reports of 2 separate plane crashes in Oshkosh, one yesterday and another one this morning. Both appear to be related to the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture convention.

Oshkosh authorities say a small plane crash Wednesday has left two people injured. The Oshkosh Fire Department says the homebuilt plane crashed when it lost power as it was attempting to land.

The pilot and passenger are brothers from Kentucky. Fire officials say the men had to be removed from the wreckage. Their injuries aren't life-threatening. The cause of the power outage is unclear.

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