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Northwoods Spotlight: Record Vintage crowd; 20K expected for DerbySubmitted: 01/16/2013
Story By Joe Dufek


EAGLE RIVER - Last weekend was the first of two world championship snowmobile races in Eagle River.
Racers took us back in time, hopping on sleds at least a quarter-century old.

The Vintage Snowmobile Championships showed drivers racing on sleds which were made before 1985. Several Northwoods racers took the checkered flag on the final day of action. Including Jeff Stoxen of Rhinelander - winning in the 440 Sport Mod. Racing these old machines is a thrill.

"It's been getting bigger, and bigger," says Jeff Stoxen of Rhinelander - one of the vintage racers. "Everybody is one big family for vintage. Everyone helps everybody out."


A record 7,000 fans watched the Vintage races here at Eagle River Derby Track. Over 20,000 are expected for this weekend's World Championship Derby.

Derby track owner Chuck Decker adds, "the big news is the $60,000 prize to the World Champion this year. Just the one class alone is going to pay out $90,000."

Last year's defending champion Nick Van Strydonk will return to defend his crown. The Tomahawk racer is excited to be racing with the event celebrating it's 50th year.

Several past champions will be honored on Friday night. Time trials get underway Thursday. The World Championship is set for 3pm Sunday afternoon.

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TOMAHAWK - We can all spot the DNR Wildfire Risk signs on the side of the road this time of year.

But a program at UW-Stevens Point aims to study the healthy relationship between controlled burns and the forest.

The UWSP wildland fire science program spent Thursday setting prescribed burns at Treehaven in Tomahawk.

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RHINELANDER - On any given Sunday morning. you can find parishioners offering prayers in their churches.  But Thursday, churchgoers all across the country moved outdoors to spread their prayers everywhere.

About 40 people met outside the Oneida County Courthouse in Rhinelander for the 64th annual National Day of Prayer. Pastors from five area churchesâ€"including Calvary Baptist, Headwaters Christian Youth, Grace Foursquare, Trinity Lutheran, and Pine Grove Community Churchâ€"led different prayers.

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- People gathered all across the nation to offer prayers for a number of different causes, including a few dozen in Rhinelander. We'll share their message and hope for prayer in the open tonight at 5, 6 and 10.

- Plus, we will tell you about new federal rules now in place that regulate e-cigarettes.

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

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ST. GERMAIN - Volunteers often don't get recognized for their dedicated work.

But on Thursday, Ministry Heath Care honored the men and women who help keep their hospitals running.

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TOWN OF MAPLE GROVE - Authorities have identified a man killed in a helicopter crash in Manitowoc County.

61-year-old Paul Ruppert of Madison died in Wednesday's crash.

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RHINELANDER - Many boaters will spend this weekend on Northwoods lakes, but with more boats comes an increased risk of spreading aquatic invasive species. 

Some Oneida County conservationists hope education will protect the lakes this year.

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RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Food Pantry recently received a generous donation from the Northwood Turners.

"The food pantry has just been a great boon to this area and it was needed for such a long time and now they are doing really great," says Northwood Turners President Bill Kingsbury.

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