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NEWS STORIES

Central Wis. Man Gets Ten Years for Texting & Driving HomicideSubmitted: 11/12/2012
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

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RHINELANDER - A central Wisconsin man will spend a decade in prison for killing a man by texting and driving.

John French admitted to texting his girlfriend and speeding right before he ran a stop sign and slammed into two cars in 2010. He killed 32-year-old Robert Walker.

Today a Wood County Judge sentenced the 23-year-old to ten years in prison, and seven additional years of extended supervision.

The crash happened the same month Wisconsin's texting and driving law went into effect in 2010.

"You're not allowed to compose a text message or email message and send it. That's utilizing your fine motor skills of typing into a keyboard because it's taking your attention away from operating that motor vehicle," says Lt. Lloyd Gauthier, from the Oneida County Sheriff's Department.

It can be tough to enforce this law because it's hard to see exactly what people are doing. There are plenty of complexities to it too. You can't type or send a text, but the law doesn't keep you from reading one or even going on the internet. But the law still makes room for that.

"It's specifically sub-categorized as inattentive driving. So if we're investigating a motor vehicle accident and the driver is telling us that they were reading a text message on their phone and not focusing on driving, yes, the appropriate citation would be inattentive driving," says Lt. Gauthier.

The fine for inattentive driving is the same as texting and driving, up to $400. In both cases you can lose four points on your license. Still, two penalties that are much better than taking someone's life.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Fire exit sign caused school fireSubmitted: 11/21/2014

PRENTICE - Administrators now know what caused a fire in the Prentice School art room, and it's ironic.

A sign that guides people to an exit in case of a fire shorted out.

The fire happened last Tuesday.

No one was in the school at the time because of a snow day.

The fire was contained to the art room.

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Hundreds of Christmas presents donated through Operation Christmas ChildSubmitted: 11/20/2014

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EAGLE RIVER - Hundreds of kids in third world countries will get to open a Christmas gift this year. It's all thanks to people who donate a shoebox filled with supplies for kids.

The boxes are part of a world-wide organization called Operation Christmas Child.

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DNR expect fewer donated deer this yearSubmitted: 11/20/2014

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NORTHWOODS - The Wisconsin Deer Donation program needs help from hunters this fall. The program lets hunters donate their deer to help feed those in need. Experts are concerned that the winter weather could cut into the number of deer kills this season. DNR managers think it will be difficult to find and hunt them.

"This year it's looking a little lean, especially in the north," said DNR Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Holtz. "With this deep snow, it's changed the deer behavior and it's going to change hunter behavior too. So I wouldn't be surprised if we saw that our donations were down this year under the circumstances."

Donating takes three simple steps: you register your kill, field dress the deer, and then you take it to a DNR approved processing center. The venison is then ground-up, frozen, and shipped to local pantries, as well as people in need. One meat market owner and program volunteer feels the impact of fewer deer.

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Eagle River sees 91% milfoil reduction in chain; planners credit local commission & volunteersSubmitted: 11/20/2014

EAGLE RIVER - You can call the Eagle River Chain's invasive species project a success so far. Eurasian water milfoil has been reduced by 91.3 percent since 2007, but work isn't done.

Eddie Heath, aquatic ecologist for Onterra LLC has been working on the project. Onterra is the firm that does the planning for the Unified Lower Eagle River Chain of Lakes Commission. He say the success is above and beyond what they've seen on other lakes across the state, and it has served as a model for other systems.

"By which we learn from some mistakes, we build upon some successes, and we move forward in an adaptive management strategy," Heath said.

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Log truck and compact car collideSubmitted: 11/20/2014

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NEAR RHINELANDER - A semi-truck carrying logs and a compact car collided this morning on highway 17 near Rhinelander.

The crash happened on Highway 17 at the intersection of Cross Country Road across from the Cross Country Bar and Grill in Rhinelander around 8 this morning. At this time, the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

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Demmer Library celebrates a milestoneSubmitted: 11/20/2014

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THREE LAKES - Young kids in Three Lakes didn't get to go to kindergarten back in the 1960s. It wasn't offered. So, some community leaders wanted to find a way to prepare children for school.

They created Story Hour at the Demmer Library in 1964 to help. Parents and community members saw it as a way to help children learn to socialize and work in a classroom setting.

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Update: Paper mill death caused by blunt force trauma to headSubmitted: 11/20/2014

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MOSINEE - A 55-year-old man died from blunt force to the head at a Mosinee Paper mill on Monday, according to a statement released Thursday from the Mosinee Police Department.

An autopsy shows that severe trauma to his head and chest injuries contributed to Matthew C. Ament's death.

He was installing insulation on the outside of the Expera Specialty Solutions paper mill on Monday.

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