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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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/22/2014

- Oneida and Lincoln are among 19 counties statewide that will ask voters if Wisconsin should accept federal money to expand BadgerCare. We'll look at the question tonight.

- Cooler temperatures helped the state use less water in 2013 than it did in 2012. The state DNR found Wisconsin's groundwater and surface withdrawals dropped by 6 percent from the year before.

- And practical shooting gives people the chance to practice in real-life situations. You can find a number of teams across Wisconsin. We'll take a look at one group in Rhinelander and how the sport helps them practice, and build friendships. That's tonight on Newswatch 12 at Six.

We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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Northwoods farmers behind on corn harvestSubmitted: 10/22/2014

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ANTIGO - Some corn farmers in Wisconsin need to catch up on harvesting.

One Northwoods farmer is about 2 weeks behind this year.

But that doesn't necessarily mean the worst.

Dairy farmer Butch Maly in Antigo wishes his corn season started a few weeks earlier.

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Northwoods Parish raising money for school, church upgradesSubmitted: 10/22/2014

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RHINELANDER - A Northwoods Parish wants to raise at least two million dollars to renovate its schools and church.

Nativity of Our Lord Catholic School needs technology and infrastructure upgrades. One of the school's buildings hasn't been updated since the 1950s.

School leaders think it's important to also upgrade the school's wireless ability. The school has SmartBoards, iPads, and laptops, but they want the equipment to work better.

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3 teens dead after crash in Shawano County Submitted: 10/22/2014

SHAWANO COUNTY - Three teens died after a two-car accident in Shawano County Tuesday evening.

The Shawano County Sheriff's Office responded to a call about a two-car crash along Highway 22, north of Friendship Road in the Town of Bell Plaine.

A white car was heading northbound on Highway 22 and lost control while trying to cross into the southbound lane. The passenger in that car was hit by an oncoming SUV driving, also traveling southbound.

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Water weevils not effective option in fighting EWMSubmitted: 10/22/2014

NORTHWOODS - Earlier this summer, scientists thought they may have found a new way of fighting one Northwoods invasive species.

Water weevils are native to the Northwoods. Scientists hoped the weevils could kill invasive Eurasian water milfoil.

It turns out the weevils do kill milfoil, but the beetles are not very efficient.

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Northwoods Parish raising money for school, church upgradesSubmitted: 10/22/2014

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RHINELANDER - A Northwoods Parish wants to raise at least two million dollars to renovate its schools and church.

Nativity of Our Lord Catholic School needs technology and infrastructure upgrades. One of the school's buildings hasn't been updated since the 1950s.

School leaders think it's important to also upgrade the school's wireless ability. The school has SmartBoards, iPads, and laptops, but they want the equipment to work better.

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20 flu-related hospitalizations in Wisconsin so far in OctoberSubmitted: 10/22/2014

MADISON - State health officials say the flu season is off to a strong start in Wisconsin.

State epidemiologist Thomas Haupt says influenza hospitalizations have been unexpectedly on the rise in October. 20 people have been hospitalized in the past three weeks. Haupt tells WISN-TV (http://bit.ly/1wo5JOD ) one or two hospitalizations are common this time of year, but not 20.

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