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Certain concerns need to be cleared to build city's first dog parkSubmitted: 12/18/2014
RHINELANDER - A community group wants to build a dog park in Rhinelander. The Hodag Paws Park group asked for permission to use county owned land on Air Park Road. But a few concerns need to be addressed before any decision is made.

The specific piece of land Hodag Paws Park wants to use is across the street from the Drs. Foster and Smith retail store.

The land was originally given to Printpack to build the company's manufacturing facility. But the company decided to build on Highway 17 and gave the property back to county. The county's Economic Development Corporation is currently trying to sell the property.

In a letter to county leaders, the Economic Development Council's executive director says the council "would advise against the use of this site for any purpose while it is being marketed."

The Economic Development Corporation doesn't want the area to lose businesses because there aren't any ready developed pieces of land. The land is the only publically-owned, industrial zoned site that's available for sale in Rhinelander.

"Another feature of that property is that it's right next to the railroad," says Michael Romportl, Oneida County's land information director. "It's a feature that's advantageous to industry."

The Hodag Paws Parks group thinks it won't stand in the way of the property being sold because it isn't planning on changing the land.

"We all hope a company might come and develop that land. We want them to keep marketing it and put their signs out," says Hodag Paws Park team leader Tina Werres. "We'd just like to use it in the interim. The fencing is already there so it's affordable for us to use. All we would do is put in a few benches and a port-a-potty."

The group would use the land as a temporary location. Group leaders say all of their equipment could easily be removed if the land was sold.

"The parcel out on Air Park Road is exactly 21 acres. It's a great size. The fencing is there," says Werres. "We wouldn't have to do anything other than to make sure the bottom of [the fence] is secure and put some entry gates into it."

The fencing is the biggest factor for the group. Hodag Paws Park could save a lot of money if it doesn't need to install a perimeter fence.

The group currently uses the hockey rink in Pioneer Park during the summer.

"It's enjoyable to be there with the pets and let your pet run," says Werres. "Otherwise, the amenities there are lacking."

Before a decision is made on the dog park, the group needs to figure out liability concerns.

"Who would be liable if one dog bit another dog, if a dog bit a person, and those sorts of things," says Romportl. "We don't know how that is handled. The group did not know yet."

The Hodag Paws Park group thinks it'll be able to figure out those concerns because other Northwoods towns were able to address the same problems. Right now, the closest dog park is in Tomahawk.

The group already proposed the park to the land record committee.The committee will now talk with the county lawyer and other leaders to settle any concerns. The proposal could be brought up to the county board in February.

Story By: Karolina Buczek

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 LOCAL NEWS
Tree of Hope helps families in MerrillSubmitted: 12/18/2014

MERRILL - Needy families in Merrill will have a better Christmas this year.

The Merrill Fire Department is sponsoring the Tree of Hope.

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Stranger donates $1,200 gold coin to Langlade County Salvation ArmySubmitted: 12/18/2014

ANTIGO - Salvation Army workers in Langlade County don't know who to thank.

A stranger dropped a $1,200 gold coin into one of the red kettles in Antigo.

"The coin is in very good condition. Somebody knew what they were doing when they dropped it in the bucket," says Langlade County Salvation Army Volunteer Coordinator William Kelly.

Someone donated a 1922 Philadelphia mint Saint-Gaudens $20 gold coin at Fleet Farm in Antigo.

Volunteers don't know who made the donation.

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Northwoods dance team headed to the Orange Bowl Submitted: 12/18/2014

TOMAHAWK - The Wisconsin Badgers will head to the Outback Bowl in Florida, but there's another Wisconsin team headed to bowl game itself.

Tomahawk's high school dance team will perform during halftime of the Orange Bowl.

The team heads to Miami next week.

They want to have a perfect routine.

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Study: Lincoln County professional departments well trained in hazardous materials, volunteer departments need workSubmitted: 12/17/2014

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MERRILL - Would responders in Lincoln County know how to best handle a hazardous material spill in their area?

It might depend on where that spill happens.

A study for a county committee found a big gap in how prepared certain departments might be to handle hazardous materials.

For the most part, professional fire departments and law enforcement are trained well to respond.

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 REGIONAL NEWS
Two men arrested after police chaseSubmitted: 12/18/2014

MARINETTE - Two men accused of shooting at police now sit in jail.

They were arrested following a manhunt in the woods of northeastern Wisconsin.

Marinette County deputies closed a section of Highway 141, evacuated some homes and locked down two bars Wednesday night.

They searched for the armed men near Middle Inlet.

Things started when the Marinette County Sheriff's Department got word from police in Michigan that two wanted felons were staying at a hotel in Crivitz.

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Fee planned for access to ice cavesSubmitted: 12/18/2014

BAYFIELD - You'll pay five bucks if you visit the Apostle Island ice caves.

That's if we get the chance to see them again this winter.

The fee would pay for more staffing, portable toilets and medical needs.

138 thousand people visited the majestic ice caves last winter.

The park service spent more than 450 thousand dollars dealing with them.

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Foundation sues state over contraception recordsSubmitted: 12/17/2014

MADISON - The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the state to obtain records related to a decision not to enforce Wisconsin's contraceptive coverage law.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration announced in July it would no longer enforce the law against employers with religious objections in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruled companies with religious objections such as Hobby Lobby can avoid the contraceptive coverage requirement in the federal health care overhaul law.

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Walker looking at 6 to 7 agencies for changesSubmitted: 12/17/2014

MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker says he's looking at consolidating or making ``major changes'' at six or seven state agencies.

Walker talked in general about his ideas for merging state government operations on Wednesday after speaking to Senate Republicans.

Walker says he doesn't think a special session will be necessary to do that, but he does hope the Legislature will act quickly on the ideas early on. He says he learned from the creation of public-private economic development agency that it's better to have more time to transition into something new than not.

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