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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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/29/2014

- Some parents think the Antigo School District's co-curricular code punishes students too harshly. Students can be banned from playing a sport or doing an extra-curricular activity if they break the code a few times. Newswatch 12's Karolina Buczek found out how the code works and why the district is standing behind it.

- People could sell Wisconsin wild ginseng root for as much as $1,000 per pound last year. Wisconsin's ginseng is known as some of the best in the world. Some believe it gives people energy and have other health benefits. It's seen an increase in popularity and demand. The state DNR wants to remind people to follow the rules during this year's wild ginseng harvest season.

- And the North Lakeland Discovery Center will welcome a new executive director. The center in Manitowish Waters focuses on connecting people with nature. That's how Azeal Meza first connected with the discovery center. Hear what opportunities he wants to fulfill at the center tonight on Newswatch 12.

We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12

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North Lakeland Discovery Center welcomes a new executive directorSubmitted: 08/29/2014

MANITOWISH WATERS - The North Lakeland Discovery Center will welcome a new executive director.

The center in Manitowish Waters focuses on connecting people with nature. That's how Azeal Meza first connected with the discovery center. He says he is excited to move forward as the executive director.

"I was immediately impressed with the organization," says Meza. "I have been part of the bird club for a while, and it's a nice place where I come here with my family to hike the trials, paddle, you name it."

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Gov. Walker warns Potawatomi it could lose gamesSubmitted: 08/29/2014

MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker's administration has warned the Forest County Potawatomi tribe that it could lose about 2,000 slot machines if it succeeds in withholding its $25 million annual payment to the state.

The Potawatomi say they're withholding the money because the state may end up owing the tribe money if Walker approves the Menominee tribe's proposed Kenosha casino. The Potawatomi fear a Kenosha casino would significantly cut into their Milwaukee casino profits.

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Former deputy suspected of homicide due in courtSubmitted: 08/29/2014

- A former Dane County sheriff's deputy suspected of fatally shooting his wife and sister-in-law is due in court.

Andy Steele is scheduled for an appearance in Dane County Circuit Court Friday afternoon. Steele could be formally charged Friday in the deaths of 39-year-old Ashley Steele and her 38-year-old sister, Kacee Tollefsbol, of Lake Elmo Minnesota.

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Wisconsin State Patrol reinforces consequences of speeding in construction zones Submitted: 08/29/2014

MARATHON COUNTY - Each year in Wisconsin, both highway workers and motorists die or are hurt in crashes that happen in highway construction zones. Drivers need to slow down and obey the posted speed limit. In Marathon County, Wisconsin State Patrol doesn't treat drivers any differently.

Sergeant Travis Wanless of the Wisconsin State Patrol started his Wednesday morning off on Highway 51 by taking up both lanes to slow down traffic for rock blasting.

"We are blasting. I'm going to get you sick here, but I want to make sure these guys know I'm stopping," Wanless said.

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Walker says GOP complacency a big concernSubmitted: 08/29/2014

MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker says complacency and fatigue among Republican voters is one of his biggest concerns as he faces re-election in less than 10 weeks.

Walker addressed his concerns Friday on WTMJ-AM when asked about a poll released on Wednesday indicating that Democrats were more enthused about the upcoming election that Republicans. Walker calls that ``one of my biggest concerns.''

The Marquette University Law School poll showed the race between Walker and Democrat Mary Burke to be a dead heat, both among registered and likely voters.

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Ginseng harvest season starts MondaySubmitted: 08/29/2014

STATEWIDE - People could sell Wisconsin wild ginseng root for as much as $1,000 per pound last year.

Wisconsin's ginseng is known as some of the best in the world.

Some believe it gives people energy and has other health benefits.

It's seen an increase in popularity and demand.

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