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NEWS STORIES

Take a Tour of the Oconto Marijuana Grow SiteSubmitted: 09/06/2012
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

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RHINELANDER - Last week we saw one of the biggest drug busts in state history. Agents found millions of dollars in marijuana in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near the border of Oconto and Langlade Counties.

The Feds have given clearance for the media to trek out to the site. Newswatch 12's Lyndsey Stemm was there today to bring you an inside look.

We headed into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to take a look at some of the sites where law enforcement cleared more than 8,000 marijuana plants last week.

A mile deep into the forest, we toured a few of the grow sites law enforcement raided last week. It's the third bust in three years; all reported by citizens. A fisherman spotted this one.

"There were marijuana plants six to eight feet tall right here," says Jeff Seefeldt, a Ranger with the US Forest Service.

In the last two busts the sites were fewer, and much larger. They were easier to see from far away. This one had 22 smaller sites. It wouldn't have been as easily seen from the air, so it seems the growers are paying attention. Add that to 1.5 million acres of forest land--- and few rangers to cover it-- it makes for a tough fight.

"People are going here, and going there, but still I can't cover 350,000 acres," says Seefeldt.

When asked if he thinks it's possible that there are sites just like this somewhere else, he said, "Very possible. I believe that."

Since people working on these large-scale don't typically leave, they end up in makeshift shelters like the one we saw on our trip. All the garbage that accumulates over the months they're here just ends up in big piles.

So why grow here in the Northwoods, where the growing season is so short?

"One of the reasons we think they're here is the abundant water supply. As you've seen with these sites we're right along a river. We have a lot of lakes and rivers in the Northwoods. It's really remote, it's easy to get away from people and not be found in these parts," says Suzanne Flory, a Public Affairs Officer for the US Forest Service.

What rangers most want people to know is it's dangerous to stick around if you stumble upon a grow site.

"If you see something unusual, especially from spring through summer when the growers would be on site, make sure you just leave real quietly. These people have been found to be armed and dangerous," says Flory.

Authorities say you don't need an up close look to know if something is wrong out there. When you're out in a remote area, and a large patch of land is cleared with other plants in their place, leave immediately and contact your local forestry department.

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

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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

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

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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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Expert: Walker still has time to declare Pres. run after Jeb Bush comments, Legislature to take lead on some issuesSubmitted: 12/18/2014

RHINELANDER - Gov. Scott Walker won't say when he'll decide if he'll run for president in the upcoming 2016 election, but some political observers say former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's announcement to "actively explore" a presidential run adds some urgency to declare for possible contenders.

Gov. Walker said this week that Bush's comments, "don't affect me one way or another."

However, UW-Madison Professor of Political Science Kenneth Mayer says Walker and other possible candidates may have time into January or February to make a decision.

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911 service restored after roughly 7-hour outageSubmitted: 12/18/2014

MADISON - Emergency 911 service has been restored to multiple southern Wisconsin counties after an outage that lasted roughly seven hours.

That service was restored at around 4 p.m. Thursday.

Frontier spokeswoman Karen Miller says the outage happened after an underground cable was inadvertently severed by a third party shortly after 9 a.m. The outage affected 911 phone service and high-speed internet access.

The issue impacted Juneau, Columbia, Adams and Marquette counties in south-central Wisconsin.

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2 Salvation Army red kettles stolen in HaywardSubmitted: 12/18/2014

HAYWARD - Two Salvation Army red kettles have been stolen in Hayward in recent weeks.

The Salvation Army says one of the kettles contained an estimated $400.

The most recent theft happened Wednesday at Walgreen's. Sawyer County Salvation Army director Debbie Huebner says surveillance video shows someone grabbed the kettle's stand and put the whole structure into the back of a vehicle.

Huebner says that kettle had been emptied right before the theft. But a few weeks ago, a thief cut a cable to steal a kettle from Walmart. Huebner estimated it contained $300 to $400.

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Wisconsin ranks 32nd in private-sector job growth during June 2013-14 stretchSubmitted: 12/18/2014

MADISON - Wisconsin ranks 32nd in private-sector job growth for the 12-month period ending in June.

The latest figures were reported Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

They show that Wisconsin grew private-sector jobs between July 2013 and the end of June this year by 1.45 percent. That lags the national average of growth at 2.3 percent.

Wisconsin ranks 32nd nationally and behind Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development also reported Thursday that unemployment dropped from 5.4 percent to 5.2 percent between October and November. The national unemployment rate for November is 5.8 percent.

The monthly also shows Wisconsin added 16,500 private sector jobs in November.

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