NEWS STORIES

Veterans Face Long Wait for Claims ProcessingSubmitted: 10/04/2012
RHINELANDER - Veterans served our country, but now it seems their claims aren’t being served.

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs has a backlog of 860,000 disability claims, and nearly 230,000 of those have been waiting a year or more.

Oneida County’s veterans service officer Tammy Walters said part of the reason processing has slowed is positive.

The V.A. is getting the word out about more disabilities, and that means veterans can get help.


But that positive comes with a negative – even more claims and a slower wait.

“When I first got here, I would say a long claim took six months, and now they take a year or more,” said Walters, who started over six years ago.

Iraq war veteran Kelly Keating has also seen a slowdown.

“Everyone keeps telling me, just be patient with it, it takes time,” Keating said. “You get sick of hearing it, but you have no choice.”

No choice, but plenty of problems. After Keating came back, she drank a lot. She still has nightmares, spinal problems, and headaches.

“They never told us to document anything, and when you go back now to do your comp, they look for documentation. And half the time there isn’t any,” she said.

No documentation is just one reason things have slowed down. It’s also because of our current war, and one that ended 37 years ago.

“Any veteran who stepped boot on ground in Vietnam is automatically presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. And they’re finding that Agent Orange has caused a multitude of disabilities,” Walters said. “As time has gone on, they’ve added more disabilities to that list.”

Whether the injuries are old or new, the effect is the same.

“A lot of people can’t work because of their service-related disabilities, and they don’t know when they’re going to get paid, they’re struggling to get by day-to-day,” Walters said. “There’s really nothing we can do, other than empathize, but that doesn’t pay their bills.”

“You just have to wait, wait, wait, that’s what the military is about,” Keating said.

Story By: Lex Gray

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 IN OTHER NEWS
RHS Mock Trial team recognized for accomplishments Submitted: 04/18/2014

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RHINELANDER - A Northwoods team broke their own state record last month by winning a 17th state title.

A pair of state legislators honored them Friday.

Republican State Representative Rob Swearingen and Republican State Senator Tom Tiffany honored the Rhinelander Mock Trial Team at the Oneida County courthouse today.

"It's on behalf of myself and Senator Tom Tiffany from the 12th senate district," said Republican State Representative, Rob Swearingen.

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Statton's General Store will close after ten yearsSubmitted: 04/18/2014

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TOMAHAWK - Statton’s General Store in Tomahawk will close its doors after ten years.

Dick and Rita Statton opened the business in May of 2004.

“I decided it was time for a change,” says Dick Statton.

Dick worked in manufacturing for 32 years before opening the business.

He wanted to try something new.

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Snow and ice won't stop fishermen from enjoying opening weekendSubmitted: 04/18/2014

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EAGLE RIVER - The snow on the ground makes it seem more like January than mid-April.

The record-breaking snow will make it more difficult for lakes to melt in time for the fishing opener on May 3rd.

Fishing guides have just two weeks until opening weekend.

They say they're having flashbacks to last year's late season ice, but they're not worried.

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Observing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday Submitted: 04/18/2014

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RHINELANDER - You could find a decent amount of businesses closed early Friday.

That's because many of the owners and employees were in church.

People filled the pews at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rhinelander on Good Friday.

People honored the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

"His death which looks really bad for us is really good because it's in our place," said Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church pastor, Richard Krahn.

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Wisconsin court to decide on testing drunk driversSubmitted: 04/18/2014

MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to decide whether police can legally draw suspected drunken drivers' blood without a warrant or driver consent.

The court said it would hear three drunken driving cases, two of which involved a homicide. That announcement came nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a Missouri case that could call into question Wisconsin's law.

Wisconsin since 1993 has granted police authority to draw drunken driving suspects' blood without a warrant or consent.

About 5,000 people refused to comply with police tests in 2011 and 2012.

The eventual rulings in the three cases are expected to clarify how law enforcement can gather evidence in some Wisconsin drunken driving cases.

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Northwoods filmmaker makes movies for the big screenSubmitted: 04/18/2014

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MERRILL - When you think of movies you probably think of Hollywood, but one man from Northcentral Wisconsin is bringing his feature film to the local screen.

Wausau’s Jarrod Crooks not only makes movies, but he also stars in them.

His latest film, "Dispatched" is based off the Elvis Presley movie, “Girl Happy,” says filmmaker Jarrod Crooks. “My character Jake is sent to go watch my bosses daughter while she’s on vacation with a friend. Then an old enemy is kind of after him while he’s on vacation, so some things happen.”

Crooks made, "Dispatched" on a $5,000 budget and it’s full of romance, action, and comedy.

“My buddy would joke with me, ‘why don’t you just pick one genre man and then just go with it'," says Crooks. "I’m like because I want to make this movie how I want to make It'." "I actually like romantic comedies, I think they’re kind of fun, and I think they’re cute. I like action films because I’m a guy, and I like comedy because Jim Carey is great.”

Crooks is only 28 and has already made 4 feature films. His passion started when he was 12 years old.

“I went over to my friend’s house and he had a video camera. I was like oh we should make a movie, and at that time I was really into, “Wishbone,” says Crooks.

“We’d always remake our own literature pieces. Then I saw my first Jackie Chan movie and I’m like, alright it’s settled we’re doing action films from now on," says Crooks. “From then on it was just a love affair with the filmmaking.”

His latest film will be shown at the Cosmo Theatre in Merrill on Saturday at 5pm.

“The fact that I’m bringing it to central Wisconsin is great because this is where I grew up," says Crooks. "All my family and friends get to see it, so I’m very excited about that and you get to see yourself on the big screen what’s better than that.”





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Community fundraises for boy with rare diseaseSubmitted: 04/18/2014

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THREE LAKES - Imagine not being able to move your body.

That was the reality for a 4th grader from Three Lakes

Hunter St. Louis has a rare nerve disease called Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome makes your body attack nerve cells.

The messages from the brain can't get to the nerves.

So his body was unable to move.

Hunter had to go through seven plasma replacements.

And now he'll go through intense physical therapy.

Hunter is leaving the hospital Friday, but he still has a long road to full recovery.

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