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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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Man sues Wisconsin police over Facebook arrestSubmitted: 11/25/2014

MADISON - A man who was arrested after he posted Facebook comments calling a southern Wisconsin police department racist has filed a federal lawsuit alleging one of the agency's officers violated his constitutional rights.

Police arrested Thomas Smith in 2012 after he posted profanity-laced comments on Facebook calling police officers in Arena racists.

He was convicted of disorderly conduct and illegal use of computer communications. A state appeals court tossed out his convictions this past July, ruling Smith's remarks were protected speech under the U.S. Constitution.

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Newswatch 12 reports: Teen birth rate drops in the United States, still higher than other countries; Sexual education could decrease rate even moreSubmitted: 11/25/2014

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WISCONSIN - Teen birth rates dropped significantly across the country in the past few years.

Despite the decline, the United States still has the highest teen birth rate compared to other developed countries.

There are many reasons the rate is going down, and there could be many explanations to why the U.S. is behind other countries.

Education could decrease the rate even more.

That could prevent more people from having to go through the difficulties of being a teen parent.

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Students donate 2,000 pounds of food, get to dye teachers' hairSubmitted: 11/25/2014

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RHINELANDER - Teachers at one Northwoods school wanted to encourage their students to give back to the community in time for Thanksgiving. They did that by offering up their hair.

Students at Zion Lutheran School in Rhinelander got to see two of their teachers dye their hair some of the colors of the rainbow on Monday. That's because students donated 2,000 pounds of food to a local food pantry.

Two students and a teacher also used the occasion to cut their hair for Locks of Love.

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Holiday Shopping- Why some stores open on ThanksgivingSubmitted: 11/25/2014

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WAUSAU - Thousands of holiday shoppers will head to stores and businesses this week.

This Friday is Black Friday and lots of people want to get to stores early for the best holiday deals.

But some businesses are opening a little earlier.

Almost 30 stores at Wausau Center Mall will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 11/25/2014

- With only one month left until Christmas, many people will be heading to stores to shop. The busiest shopping days of the year start this week. Some of the stores in Wausau's Center Mall open as early as 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. We talk with the mall's manager to see what they're expecting for holiday shopping.

- Plus, teachers at one Northwoods school wanted to encourage their students to give back to the community in time for Thanksgiving. They did that by offering up their hair. Students at Zion Lutheran School in Rhinelander got to see two of their teachers dye their hair some of the colors of the rainbow today. That's because students donated 2,000 pounds of food to a local food pantry.

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

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Frederick Place needs your help during the winter monthsSubmitted: 11/25/2014

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RHINELANDER - It may be winter but Frederick Place in Rhinelander still has many empty beds.

The Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing provides emergency temporary housing for area counties.

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Ice skaters dedicate their lives to become talented skatersSubmitted: 11/25/2014

MINOCQUA - It takes a lot of perseverance to become a talented ice skater.

Between long practices and competing, ice skaters might not have much free time.

Danielle Wolosek has been skating since she was four.

"To be good, you have to like pretty much dedicate your life," says Danielle.

That dedication sometime means a lot of time driving.

Danielle and her sister Tessa travel from Wisconsin Rapids to the Lakeland Hawks Ice Arena in Minocqua every week.

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