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.
MADISON - The start of a new short-term loan program that wasn't slated to begin until July has been moved up in an effort to help businesses hurt by recent cutbacks at Oshkosh Corp.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state's chief jobs agency, voted this week to start the pilot program earlier. It will provide loans or loan guarantees of up to $250,000 to companies for projects or expenses that may not be eligible for traditional financing.
The board says it was starting the program earlier in light of news that Oshkosh was cutting 760 jobs from its defense division because of budget cuts being made by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The loan program this year will only target businesses in Oshkosh Corp.'s supply chain
RHINELANDER - An Oneida County prosecutor can’t believe how stupid a move one Wausau man is accused of making in court.
“This case is unbelievable, it's hard for me to even fathom we had someone that I hate to say stupid, but I guess that's basically what it was,” says Jodie Bednar-Clemens, prosecuting attorney. “I mean someone who came into court, into our courthouse, into the courtroom carrying illicit drugs in their pocket and much less methamphetamine.”
30 - year - old Kurtis Cline was originally facing three theft charges. While in court for those on April 10th, prosecutors say he took a bag of meth from his jeans pocket. He tried to stash the drugs under his seat cushion, but an officer caught him.
“Pulled something out of his pocket and put it under the seat cushion it was so obvious to me that he was doing something I had to keep myself from laughing out loud in court,” says Kurt Kopacz, Oneida County Sheriff's Deputy.
Cline pleaded not guilty in court. He's being held on a $5,000 bond. He will be back in court next month.
RHINELANDER - It won't be much longer before the Hodag water show gears up for the summer, but right now they need to make repairs to their building. Rod Olson says it may cost between $15,000 and $20,000 to make repairs to the building. To watch the video click on the video link.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Drug addicts can look nearly everywhere to get their fix, and sometimes they can get that by raiding their family's medicine cabinet.
That's why Lac du Flambeau police gave a drug presentation at an event for the elderly Thursday.
Police leaders wanted to show seniors what could happen if they didn't keep track of their medications.
"A lot of times the elderly and older population can be victims from this. As the younger children, grandchildren, things like that are you know coming in and taking their grandparents prescription drugs," says Sarah Keuer a nurse at Peter Christensen Health Center.
Dane County judge to hear Planned Parenthood lawsuit
MADISON - A Dane County judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging a 2012 law that sets out conditions for abortions.
The law requires a doctor to determine whether the woman's consent is voluntary and inform the woman of domestic abuse services if he or she suspects the woman is being coerced. The law also requires doctors to perform a physical exam before they can prescribe abortion-inducting drugs and be in the room when the drugs are given to the woman.
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in February 2013 arguing the law is unconstitutionally vague. The organization argues its unclear how doctors should determine voluntary consent and whether doctors need to be present when drugs are dispensed or administered.
Judge Richard Niess is set to hear arguments Thursday morning.
WisDOT leaders hopeful for increase in Northwoods rail
ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Railroads give businesses a chance to move loads of material for a low cost. Loggers could use rail as an alternative to trucking material, but many businesses don’t get that opportunity in the Northwoods anymore.
Canadian National bought rail in the Northwoods about a decade ago. They have cut back service drastically since then.
Some counties haven't seen train travel in years, which hurts business. Now, those businesses want to reestablish rail service.
In response, a group of counties in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan formed the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission.
Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Rockfleet Broadcasting / Northland Television, Inc. and By Request Web Designs shall not be held responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, or misprints.