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Icy roads create major headache for salt trucksSubmitted: 01/29/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray


RHINELANDER - The weather made a messy morning across the Northwoods.

Dozens of schools in the viewing area were either delayed or closed completely.

Plenty of people slipping and sliding around.

You might think warm temperatures will help clear those icy roads, but they can actually be a major headache for safety crews.

Oneida County Highway workers started their day at dawn this morning.

Their main goal was to get the streets plowed and salted before heavy traffic and school buses got out.


Highway Department Commissioner Freeman Bennett says the temperatures bouncing from one extreme to the next is a nightmare.

"If the roads are wet and especially on the high side parts of the curb, the snow melts and washes across the road and washes all the salt residue off, said Bennett.

"Then when the temperatures drop so fast and freezes instantly, the big problem that we have is when it's 18 degrees below zero. The salt doesn't work."

Pot holes are another issue for salt truck drivers.

Bennett says having to refill them can get very tedious.

"If we can get the cleaned up in the summer time a lot of times what we'll do is hot mix asphalt and then they stay," Bennett said.

"But around this time of the year, it's tough. It gets wet and pops right back out again. So after a day like today we'll be out there again Thursday and we'll be patching them one more time."

Bennett says the best thing to do with icy roads like today is leave an hour early.

Give the salt trucks space.

Even though they're moving at a slow pace, they can spin out as well.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

TOMAHAWL - A Tomahawk police officer pulled an autistic boy to safety after the 10-year-old went too far into a river.

Saturday afternoon around one, Tomahawk police got a call about an unattended child in the water near Kings Road and the Highway 51 bridge.

The child refused to come out.

The officer was familiar with the boy, and knew he was autistic and non-verbal.

The child went further into the water, and the officer saw him go under.

The officer swam in, spotted the child's colored shirt under the water, and was able to pull him out.

The water was 10 to 15 feet deep in the area.

The child's father was contacted, and the boy was released to him.

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ANTIGO - A group of tractor enthusiasts showed off their work Monday morning at Antigo's Memorial Day parade.

The Northwoods Tractor Club prides itself on refurbishing old tractors to like new condition.

The not for profit group started with just 20 members and has steadily grown to more than 100.

"Northwoods Tractor Club started in 2011 and it's a group of tractor enthusiasts that kinda thought well maybe we should get together and have an organization, maybe help out the community a little bit. So, we got together with 20 guys back then and now we're well over 100 members," says club President Mike McDougal.

Many of the tractors are hand me downs or ones that are too old to be used in the field.

That's why finding replacement parts can be tricky.

"A lot of times it's the family tractor that had been on their parents or grandparents farm. We reworked it and use it for parades such as today. Our whole general purpose of the organization is to raise money and establish an agriculture tractor museum up just north of Antigo is where we're looking at some land right now," says McDougal.

Many of the tractors date back to the 1930s.

Meeting are held on the last Monday of every month at Quinn's Bar in Neva Corners.

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MINOCQUA - While the rain this weekend stopped some Memorial Day activities, businesses in the Northwoods saw sales boom. Rain made tourists head indoors to see what different businesses had to offer.

Many Minocqua area businesses said the weekend was very busy because of the rainy and cloudy weather. Business was slower Monday compared to the weekend.

At Dan's Minocqua Fudge this weekend, staff saw thousands come in to shop.

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WHITE LAKE - People held grand ceremonies all over of the United States today in honor of Memorial Day.

But perhaps some of the most dignified ceremonies happen in small towns right here in the Northwoods.

With a population of less than 400, White Lake is one of those towns that doesn't let the number of people in the town determine its significance. 

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RHINELANDER - The gloomy weather made it difficult to stay outside for the entire weekend, but the rain brought a lot of people to the Pioneer Park Historical Complex.

The complex opened for the season on Saturday.

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ST. GERMAIN - Thousands of visitors come to the Northwoods each year in search of treasures old and new.

That's because one of the largest flea markets happens right in St. Germain.

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ARBOR VITAE - Many people enjoy being on the lake and away from work on Memorial Day.

But some volunteers were working hard Monday on local lakes to prevent the spread of AIS.

Volunteers from Clean Boats, Clean Waters work at different lakes to check boats as they come in and out of the water. They often catch common mistakes, and teach boaters how they can help stop the spread of AIS.

"They usually recommend draining the water up away from the landing that way anything mixed in with the water in the boat doesn't get back in the lake," said volunteer Aaron Tomasoski. "Pretty often people will drain it out. It's been that way for a while, but people are starting to get a hang of it. But we are making progress on that."

Clean Boats, Clean Waters is a state-wide volunteer program that grew out of a program called Milfoil Masters, created by Minocqua middle schoolers in 2003.

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