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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
Early snowfall, windy conditions give best condition for early kite skiingSubmitted: 11/21/2014

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RHINELANDER - A Northwoods man believes our early winter has laid the foundation for early kite skiing. The combination of snow and wind gives Mark Collar the chance to use his skis and his kite.

Collar calls wind a friend, but that sometimes seems like the only friend at first.

"There is certainly a learning curve," Collar said. "When you're beginning you're falling."

But the falling didn't stop Collar from falling in love with the sport.

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Local stores compete with retail chains for holiday shoppersSubmitted: 11/21/2014

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RHINELANDER - Hundreds of people will shop for bargains on Black Friday. The sales at chain retail stores can take business away from local shops.

That's why one Northwoods toy store wants to promote shopping local for the holidays. Imaginuity is holding their own sale to compete with Black Friday.

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Minocqua Winter Park will open weekend after Thanksgiving DaySubmitted: 11/21/2014

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MINOCQUA - Winter enthusiasts will get an extra treat this Thanksgiving weekend in the Northwoods.

Minocqua Winter Park will open up again for a small session during the Friday through Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.

This comes just after the park opened for a few days last weekend.

The park doesn't normally open earlier than December, but because of the success of last week's session the park wants to open up again.

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Wisconsin faces $2.2 billion budget shortfall Submitted: 11/21/2014

MADISON - Governor Scott Walker's administration says Wisconsin faces a $2.2 billion budget shortfall by mid-2017, a problem that will have to be tackled by the Republican-controlled Legislature next year as Walker is building his resume for a potential presidential run.

The estimate released Thursday by the state Department of Administration is required under the law. It takes into account spending requests made by state agencies for the next two years.

The figures will be further refined by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau in January.

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Downtown Rhinelander debuts Holiday Open House SaturdaySubmitted: 11/21/2014

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RHINELANDER - The opening of the gun deer season often leaves wives and girlfriends at home on their own.

Downtown Rhinelander hopes it can attract many of those women, and maybe even some men, to get started on holiday shopping.

The first-ever Holiday Open House on Saturday will feature sales, special events, and demonstrations at several businesses.

Its timing falls perfectly with the hunting season.

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Going above and beyond in the classroom; Meet the special ed teacher who's "made of magic" Submitted: 11/21/2014

RHINELANDER - Teachers can be influential and important people in children's lives.

For the ones that go above and beyond in the classroomâ€"it's the students who benefit.

A Crescent Elementary School special education teacher is really making a difference in her student's lives.

Amy Scholz works with four students.


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Remember safety when gun deer season kicks off tomorrowSubmitted: 11/21/2014

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ANTIGO - Saturday kicks off the start to the nine day gun deer hunting season here in Wisconsin.

Many people in the Northwoods spent this Orange Friday shopping for their last minute hunting gear.

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