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Special Olympians Hit the Slopes on Granite PeakSubmitted: 01/20/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

Special Olympians Hit the Slopes on Granite Peak
WAUSAU - The weather didn't cooperate this weekend for the Special Olympics Wisconsin Winter Games in Wausau.

Three hundred athletes were expected for the event Saturday. The snowshoe and cross country ski events had to be canceled due to lack of snow.

But 35 competitors still got to hit the slopes at Granite Peak for snowboarding and alpine skiing.

One of the snowboarders competing Saturday may have been even more excited for another event coming up.

Dana Shilts from Neillsville, Wisconsin will travel to South Korea to compete for Team USA in the Special Olympics.

"This is my first time competing in a world games. I'm very excited. My number one supporter is coming with me, so I'm very excited," says Shilts, who is taking her mother with her to South Korea.

Three Wisconsin athletes made Team USA. Jason Suino from Hayward will compete in cross country, and Alexander Guild from De Pere will snowshoe.

Organizers say these athletes are what make volunteering worth it.

"The athletes is Special Olympics represent probably the truest example of sports; people who are in this just for the pure enjoyment of being in sports. We don't have the types of sportsmanship issues that a lot of other organizations have. It's just when you see the difference it makes in an athlete's life; not just the joy of competing and getting an award, but what they're able to accomplish, and what they're able to do," says Bob Whitehead.

Team USA leaves for South Korea this Wednesday.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

WISCONSIN RAPIDS - More than three months passed since family and friends have seen a Plover woman.

Krista Sypher, 44, has been missing since March 13.

Since then Plover police have been investigating.

Wednesday that investigation led them to a landfill in Wisconsin Rapids

Plover Police Chief Dan Ault said they've been searching the Cranberry Creek Landfill since Monday. He wouldn't say what they have or have not found. He also couldn't say how or why the investigation led them to this landfill.

Chief Ault said it's possible they might be back to continue the search on Thursday.

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FOREST COUNTY - Bringing your pet along to watch fireworks might seem like a fun way to spend the Fourth of July, but you could be doing more harm than good.

July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for most animal shelters.

That's because fearful pets try to escape the bangs and flashes from fireworks and end up lost.

Forest County Humane Society president Jay Schaefer says don't let yourself add to your pet's stress.

Play it down, and make the fireworks a good thing with positive talk and treats.

"They're reading cues from us constantly. So be careful of your body language and the cues you're giving them. If you act like fireworks are a big scary thing they're gonna be like, 'oh my god fireworks are scary,'" says Schaefer.

Exercise can be another way to calm your pet before the big light show.

Burning off the energy earlier in the day may help your pet go to sleep early.

"Take them for a jog on the Fourth of July. I know it's hectic, but do something so they're not all amped up at night when the fireworks go off," says Schaefer.

Like many humans, pets like the smell of lavender.

You can try diffusing the scent around the house to put your pet at ease.

Make sure you have a well-fitting collar and identification tag on your pet.

If flashes are too bright, you might want to close the curtains.

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WAUSAU - Every year, firefighters around the country ask their communities to fill up boots with money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Wausau Fire Department kicked off its "Fill the Boot" campaign Tuesday morning.

The fire department will be at local events throughout the summer to collect donations.

The fundraiser helps with research and treatment for neuromuscular diseases for kids and adults.

"It's kind of a rewarding part of the job. Most of what we do is off camera, you don't really get to see all aspects of the fire department. It is a great chance for us to get out there and see all the programs we are involved in to help,"says firefighter Matt Tormohlen.

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RHINELANDER - Most people don't use an orthodontic office as a mail room.

However, one Rhinelander orthodontist is doing just that.

Dr. Joshua Bruce is helping to organize the "Hope and Healing" thank you card program for wounded veterans. It's run through his newly shared practice with Dr. Darrell Schmidt.

Schmidt first collected and sent cards to injured service members around Christmas last year.

Now, they are doing the same thing for Independence Day.

"[We want to] express our thanks for all they do for us, for the freedoms we enjoy that they sacrificed so much for," said Bruce.

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HAZELHURST - A week and a half ago, the Marathon County Dive Team pulled the body of 41-year-old Dominic Flaminio from the Wisconsin River. He drowned while trying to save his girlfriend's eight-year-old son, who was struggling in the current.

When Greg Bohn saw the story at his home in Hazelhurst, he felt like his heart was ripped out.

"This was so preventable," he remembers thinking.

It also motivated him to keep working on a water safety goal he's been chasing for years.

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MINOCQUA - Every two years, high school athletes in Wisconsin get the signature of a physician, saying they're healthy to play sports. That signature comes after a physical exam.

Chiropractors can't give that sign-off, but they soon might be allowed to do so. The state Assembly passed a bill which would give chiropractors that privilege.

"The pre-participation exam is certainly extremely important. It is the best way to catch underlying illness and risk factors before athletes participate in sports," said Marshfield Clinic Regional Medical Director Dr. William Melms, who works out of Minocqua.

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THREE LAKES - Managing weeds can be a challenge for many cranberry growers across the state.

James Lake Farms in Three Lakes has been certified organic since 2007.

As organic growers, they are not allowed to use synthetic materials or herbicides to control their weeds.
 
This spring, they purchased weed eating geese from a nursery to help get rid of the weeds.

"We came across an article from 1954 in a trade magazine that showed that one of our marshes had used weeder geese back then in order to reduce the weed pressure, and we thought, well, this might be a novel approach," said owner John Stauner. 

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