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NEWS STORIES

Northwoods Spotlight: Eagle River Pond Hockey Submitted: 02/13/2013
Story By Joe Dufek


EAGLE RIVER - The population of Eagle River is just shy of 1400. But last weekend, over 2400 pond hockey players, and fans were in town. The annual Pond Hockey National Championships were a Big hit on a little lake.

The first year of the Pond Hockey Championships featured 42 teams - that was 8 years ago. This year it was 346 teams, 18 divisions, playing 612 games.

Add to that 28 rinks, and 3 days of action. The result - another successful weekend for everyone involved.


"I'm here playing with my nephew and also seeing former high school opponents," says Tom Kuklinski - a member "We're with Mugsy" out of Eagle River.

Scott Aldrich is the Manager of adult hockey for USA Hockey. "To see hockey played in its purest form, its great to see," adds Aldrich.

With temps at times reaching near 30s a few weak spots formed on the ice. But extra work by the Eagle River Fire Department helped keep ice conditions safe and ready for play.

"Every night we have to flood the rinks to fill in the cracks caused by playing games," says Pat Weber - Cheif of the Eagle River Fire Department. He also had a team called "Frozen Seven" which has played every year since the tourney began.

Players from 27 States as well as Canada played on Dollar Lake. It was a chance to relive childhood memories.

Visting fans and Northwoods folks all gathered to see how this special weekend has grown.

The Chamber of Commerece estimates lodging for the players brought in over $1-million dollars into the Eagle River economy.


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MERRILL - The historical society has been working on planning the event since last October.

A transportation theme was chosen for 2015.

"[We're] on our history hunt, and we are learning about where the railroads went around Merrill, how the river was important, where the trolley went, where the old highways go, and all of those thing are included in our packet of navigation," said Merrill Historical Society's Jane Francoeur.

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WAUSAU - This was the sixth year that the event was held at various places in Marathon County. Volunteers were picking up trash to better their communities at 35 locations. Many local groups were involved.

"Faith Christian Academy and Hope Life Center, and there's other businesses and groups within the city of Wausau," said volunteer Dave Arends.

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LAKE MILLS - A Lake Mills facility will start production again after they euthanize 800,000 chickens. That comes after a highly contagious bird flu spreads in the Midwest.

The Daybreak Foods facility tested the flock every day for the virus after a facility in Jefferson County tested positive ten days ago.

Every test for the Lake Mills facility was negative until they found dead birds this week. The virus also spread to other facilities in Minnesota and Iowa.

Bird flu is believed to spread by waste from birds flying over commercial poultry facilities.

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LAKE TOMAHAWK - Some veterans might be eligible for various benefits, but not all veterans know which ones they can get.

That's why there was a Veterans Benefit Forum held Saturday afternoon in Lake Tomahawk.

Oneida County's Veteran Service Officer Tammy Walters spoke at the forum and answered questions.

"I like, when I have the opportunity to get out there and tell them about benefits because there are a lot of benefits out there and people don't always qualify for them," says Walters. "There's going to be someone that's going to leave here today and they're going to be eligible for a benefit they had no idea they were eligible for."

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LAND O' LAKES - The Phelps community came together Saturday to turn tragedy into something positive.

"Mrs. Johnson was always one of our favorite teachers, you could go to her about anything like troubles at home or bullying, and she'd always be there for us so it's really nice to give back to her," said Phelps 8th grader Alexandria Myszka.

Kim Johnson works as the music teacher at Phelps Middle School. After her husband D.J. was hurt in an accident last month, he's now paralyzed from the waist down.

But the community decided to help the family.

"Originally, this was our 8th grade class fundraiser, but after we heard about Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, we decided to donate all of the proceeds to them," said Myszka.

The Phelps 8th graders hosted a breakfast fundraiser at The Sunrise Lodge in Land O' Lakes. More than 300 people came out in support.

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WAUSHARA COUNTY - A dump truck hit a restaurant in central Wisconsin Friday night. Six people were hurt from the crash.

According to Wisconsin State Patrol, the 62-year-old driver was heading west on State Highway 21 in Waushara County around 7pm. He then hit a car from behind, kept moving, and hit Elmer's Place before stopping.

The driver and five people in the pizza restaurant were hurt. The driver from the Wisconsin Dells was taken to the hospital with life threatening injuries.

The crash is still under investigation.

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WAUSAU - One of the groups that went to the Business Expo was E3YP.

The group originated from the growing need to get young people to stay in area.

Young people often start working in smaller northcentral Wisconsin communities, but they end up leaving after a few years. It's something that E3YP hopes to change.

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