Spirit of the North: water ski team wins state titleSubmitted: 07/23/2014

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CONOVER - The Chain Skimmers Water Ski Team from Conover won the state title for their division last weekend in Wisconsin Rapids. Summer water ski shows are a wonderful part of the Spirit of the North.

"I don't know how to spend the summer anywhere else," said Jessica Clark.

She is one of about 35 skiers between the ages of 12 and 31 who spend their summers on Lake Pleasant in Conover. They come from Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida and Texas.

"We come together and we spend our entire summer skiing together. And we put a show together," explained Chain Skimmers co-president Karisa Carlson.

The Chain Skimmers Water Ski Show team is in its 43rd season. While the costumes have changed, the foundation of the team hasn't.

"This is my family. I mean, this is some of the best friends I've made," explained barefooter Liz Flaherty.

The family just celebrated another milestone; winning the state title for the first time since 1976.

"We had a lot of room to grow and a lot of room for improvement this year and I think we really stepped up and were able to do that," explained Clark.

"The reason why it's so exciting for us is because at that tournament, we're kind of the underdogs. Because you'll see at that tournament that most of the ski teams in the area they have four to five to six towboats - the boats that pull the skiers. They'll have anywhere between 50 and 80 skiing members along with all the family. They're from bigger towns," Carlson said.

But the underdogs have proved they can pretty much accomplish anything they want.

"In 1979 we bought this site and we made our last mortgage payment in '94," explained Carlson of the Chain Skimmer's Lake Pleasant location.

They bought the lake and the 107 acres surrounding it.

"Two banks in Eagle River financed this site for a group of 30 kids, you know, all under the age of 25 years old. That's just unheard of. So I think that's where they pride comes from because they did it on their own," said Flaherty.

It's that pride that drives the team members to put in well more than the 16 hours a week they spend on the water.

"We're working together to run a business so there are challenges and it's taught a lot of us how to be leaders and how to be in charge of things that no other organization I can think of would expose you to," added Carlson.

But they say that's all worth it to be a member of the team.

"To come in and see the audience, and know that you've impressed them and just like made their evening or vacations better, I don't know. It's a good feeling," added Flaherty.

The Chain Skimmers perform Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 7 p.m. in the summer. The team is looking for more junior club members. Some of those members go onto become Chain Skimmer team members. They're offering a "take your kid skiing" day this Sunday to introduce more people to the club. It runs from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Lake Pleasant in Conover. It's free and open to all ages. All you have to do is bring a life jacket. You can even get free junior club membership for next summer.

Related Weblinks:
Chain Skimmers Water Ski Show Team Info

Story By: Lauren Stephenson

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Local union fundraiserSubmitted: 07/23/2014

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MERRILL - Members of a Northwoods union chapter gathered unique inspiration for a fundraiser - The Beatles.

Merrill-area Local 6 members gathered Wednesday on the Wisconsin flowage to raise money for groups in need of assistance. The union leaders organized boat rides, raffles, barbecues, and contests. The inspiration for the fundraiser came, in part, from the 1965 Beatles single Help!

"I found out it was the anniversary of the 'Help!' release from The Beatles record, and I decided, let's help our community," said Local 6 Vice President Valerie Nelson. "Our membership is very passionate about certain organizations within our community. One being the Lincoln County Humane Society, the local food pantry, and the American Cancer Society."

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Update: Woman dies in swimming accidentSubmitted: 07/23/2014

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STAR LAKE - Update: 7/23/14

47-year-old Karen Wessell of Star Lake died in yesterday's swimming accident in Vilas County. A boater pulled 2 people out of the water after they started drowning on Star Lake. We now know Wessell died shortly after.

Wessell went under water during a rescue attempt.

The Vilas County Sheriff says 3 women and 4 kids were along Trampers Trail. 3 boys swam across the channel and were told to come back. They got tired swimming back to shore so the women had to help. Wessell used herself to push one of the boys above the water to keep him from going under. A boater saw them, pulled them out, and started doing CPR.

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Changes in the future for downtown Rhinelander Submitted: 07/23/2014

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RHINELANDER - You can expect to see a major reconstruction in Downtown Rhinelander in 2016. The downtown area will improve its look and layout through a "streetscape" project. The new look could include wider sidewalks, outdoor restaurant seating and parking changes on Brown Street, but before any of that happens, city leaders need feedback from their community.

Downtown Rhinelander Incorporated already had surveys filled out b businesses in the area about parking on Brown Street.

The construction company came up with a compromised solution. The proposal keeps Brown Street as a two way street, but there will be parallel parking on the west side and angled parking on the east side.

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EPA cleans up chemicals from Lindey Cleaners buildingSubmitted: 07/23/2014

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RHINELANDER - You could find EPA crews cleaning chemicals out of a building in Rhinelander Wednesday.

It's been a year and a half since the city decided something needed to be done about the deteriorating Lindey Cleaners.

You might not notice much change on the outside of Lindey Cleaners, but inside crews from the Environmental Protection Agency were hard at work.

The building on Stevens Street has been empty since 2009. EPA workers think 100 to 150 different chemicals were inside the building.

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Woman charged with embezzling money from Rescue Squad pleads no contestSubmitted: 07/23/2014

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FOREST COUNTY - An Argonne woman will spend time in jail for taking money from a Northwoods Rescue Squad.

Megan Statezny pled no contest in Forest County court Wednesday. She handled finances for the Crandon Area Rescue Squad.

Police say she admitted to spending more than $18,000 using a credit card that wasn't hers.

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Hoggie Doggies celebrates National Hot Dog DaySubmitted: 07/23/2014

WOODRUFF - Americans will eat about 7 billion hot dogs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Wednesday, millions of Americans celebrated National Hot Dog day. That was the case in the Northwoods.

Hoggie Doggies Snack Shack is a staple in Woodruff. Their All-American favorite is the Chicago Style Dog.

The owner Judy Rossi has been there for 12 years and says they go through a lot of dogs.

"Last season we went through almost 17,000 hot dogs. This year we're on track for about 18,000," says Rossi. "Statistically we go through about 8 tons of potatoes in a season, which is close to 16,000 pounds for our homemade french fries. Those are some big numbers for this little place."

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Northwoods composite panels could mean improvements for home foundations Submitted: 07/23/2014

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EAGLE RIVER - A new type of foundation could give you a better way to build a home, and the idea for the improvement starts right here in the Northwoods.

Composite Panel Systems in Eagle River builds composite panels for home foundations. Composite means anything made of two or more materials, which includes fiberglass in this case. The company describes the EPITOME Quality Foundation Wall as a revolutionary composite building solution for residential foundations.

The company makes them off site, and then they put them together on location. Composite Panel Systems' Scott Weber says that means a shorter build time compared to concrete foundations.

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