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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/19/2017
- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

Merrill Police are looking into several acts of vandalism that happened earlier this week. We talk to the police captain and a man whose garage was vandalized.

And we introduce you to a woman in the Rhinelander area who keeps an eye on homes of people who are gone for the winter to make sure they're safe.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.




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 LOCAL NEWS

RHINELANDER - One Rhinelander man's love for drumming started in 6th grade.

That passion led him to start making his own drums.

Northland Music Center owner Will Roffers recently started hand-building custom snare drums.

Some of the shells he works with are pre-made, but his "stave" shells are shaped and sanded.

He used to build and race stock cars, so he knew how to weld and mold, but drum making was a bit more challenging.

"Working with wood is tough for me. You cut something wrong and there's not putting it back together ," says Will.

Will eventually wants to hand-build snare drums to sell to the public.

In the meantime, he restores and customizes sets for customers.

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MADISON - The Senate judiciary committee is set to vote on four bills that would impose tougher drunken driving penalties.

The Republican proposals would create a five-year minimum prison sentence for homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and raise the minimum incarceration period for fifth and sixth offenses from six months to 18 months.

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APPLETON - At about 100 feet when fully extended, climbing to the top of the Merrill Fire Department's new ladder truck isn't for the faint of heart.

"It's a pretty cool feeling," firefighter Rick Sparks said.

But both standing 100 feet in the air and flat on the ground, Sparks was happy to look at his new truck from all sides.

"From the first ideas of a new ladder to seeing it here today and being able to go up on that platform was pretty neat," Sparks said.

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MADISON/IRMA - Update: The head of Wisconsin's prison system claims a troubled prison for juveniles is safe, a week after a staff member was punched by an inmate sending her to the hospital.

Department of Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher said Thursday that the Lincoln Hills-Copper Lake prisons "is a safe place for staff and offenders."

He spoke to reporters after testifying before a state Senate committee about overcrowding in the state prison system.

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 REGIONAL NEWS

COLEMAN - Authorities have arrested a suspect in a threat that shut down a school in Coleman.

The 24-year-old Coleman man is accused of making a threat that prompted the evacuation of the school and the cancellation of classes Monday. The Marinette County Sheriff's Office didn't say what the threat was.

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MADISON - The state Senate's agriculture committee has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow Wisconsin farmers to grow hemp.

The panel voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the proposal. The vote clears the way for a full floor vote in the Senate.

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MADISON - A campaign ad released early Wednesday morning seems to point toward a likely run at re-election for Gov. Scott Walker.

The 60-second YouTube video shows Walker jogging, riding a motorcycle across Wisconsin, touring manufacturing facilities, and other various stops, many from his time as governor. It also includes a new campaign logo, with Walker's name morphing into a "W" and the slogan "forward" underneath.

Walker hasn't formally announced a bid for re-election yet, nor does the ad itself. However, a source with knowledge about the topic told Newswatch 12 that an announcement from Walker is "forthcoming." The ad ends with Walker asking viewers, "Are you with me?" while riding on his Harley-Davidson.

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RACINE - State Representative Cory Mason is expected to leave the Legislature after winning election as Racine's next mayor.

Mason, a Democrat, led Alderman Sandy Weidner 5,356-4,392 in unofficial returns Tuesday night.

Mason told The Journal Times he was excited at the prospect of "really rebuilding the middle class" in the area.

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