Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Rhinelander Police officer and lawmakers work on fighting huffing and drivingSubmitted: 03/01/2013

Lane Kimble
Assistant News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - It can kill you the first time you try it, but kids and adults seem to be doing it anyway. Inhaling aerosol sprays for a simple high. It's called huffing. But it wasn't illegal in Wisconsin until 2005.

"Having a legal thing that people can do made it more appealing that you can just go to the store and get chemical sprays and dusters and get high off that and not face any consequences," Rhinelander Police Sgt. Kurt Helke said. "At least now there's a consequence to that."

Helke helped lead the charge seven years ago to make huffing a crime. Now it's a class A misdemeanor. But his fight is far from over.

About a month ago, a Rhinelander driver named Matthew Taulbut crashed his car into the curb here, on Baird and Dahl streets near the county courthouse. Police found him slumped over the wheel with aerosol cans in his lap.

But ironically enough, Taulbut, who crashed just a block from where the law is upheld, couldn't be charged criminally with his 4th OWI. Huffing isn't defined as an intoxicant. At least not yet.

State Representative Rob Swearingen is a co-sponsor of this bill making its way around the Capitol. Sergeant Helke contacted him and other lawmakers with hopes of amending the drunk driving laws.

"Essentially what we're going to do is open up the word intoxicant and include the word inhalant, like huffing, and include that so that police actually have some teeth when they try to enforce the law," Swearingen said.

Lawmakers from both sides are coming together to draft the bill. The next stop will be in a legislative committee before heading to a hearing. Swearingen thinks the process should be smooth.

"It's highly likely, depending on any opposition, and I don't know why anyone would oppose this, but pending any opposition, something like this is good, common sense legislation," Swearingen said.

That's good news for Sgt. Helke and police everywhere.

"Unfortunately in most places, they aren't aware or there isn't anything spurned until somebody dies," Helke said. "And we don't want to wait until somebody dies until the awareness is risen."

Awareness and a law, that should make the roads safer.

"I think this is a simple fix, I don't think it's a big deal, but it's something that should get done, needs to get done so they can do their job," Swearingen said.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

MERRILL - The Merrill Fire Department changed its lights from white to blue on Thursday.

In honor of the police officer that died in Wednesday's shooting in Wausau.

Detective Jason Weiland served the Everest Metro Police Department for 15 years.

His death hit home for local men and women in uniform.

"We always talk about the active shooters and all that kind of stuff happens in a big city and it's never going to happen here. Now we have one in Wausau, we are fully prepared that at some point of time in the future it could happen in our community or our response area," said Merrill Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Drury.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The Wednesday afternoon shootings in Schofield, Rothschild, and Weston sent several nearby police departments streaming into the area.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office Special Response Team was one of the many outside departments on scene with their armor rescue truck.

Even though the shootings took place nearly 70 miles away from Rhinelander, Sheriff Grady Hartman said their job is to serve and protect, no matter the circumstances.

"We're use to the mutual aid system as when another jurisdiction requests our help. We're able to go and assist them. And likewise if we had a similar incident we would request under mutual aid for other officers and deputies to come help us," said Hartman.

+ Read More

Play Video

LAC DU FLAMBEAU - It takes a lot of training to become a wildland firefighter, but 26 people in Lac du Flambeau are well on their way.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs- Great Lakes Agency offered a five-day course on Wildland Fire Training this week.

Many of the participants hope to make a career out of it.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Father Randy Knauf thought about history as he walked the aisles of a church he once went to as a boy, knowing soon this church down to the very pew he once sat in... Will completely change.

"It's a 'starting again,'" Knauf said.

Knauf took over as pastor at Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Rhinelander last year. He's helped lead a multi-million dollar redesign of St. Mary's church's 55-year-old worship space.

"We expect to be a little tight this summer, but it's worth it in the long run," Knauf said.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - You might want to grab your favorite flannel to suit up for this celebration.

Sawmill Brewing Company in Merrill will celebrate one year of beer Saturday. 

The craft brewery has 16 Wisconsin craft beers on tap: six are their own. 
 
At first, the Sawmill owners didn't know what the community would think.

"They've taken it by storm. There are so many people that are referring to this as our brewery, which is really what we wanted. We wanted to build something in Merrill that they could come to and enjoy," said owner Zach Kubichek. 
 
To celebrate its one year anniversary, there will be a special batch of "River Hog" oatmeal stout. 

Sawmill put the beer in a Northern Waters Distillery bourbon barrel for the last few months. 

"We just set it aside for a few months. And it's kind of like, 'I hope it works out.' Then all of a sudden we were kegging it, and we had to hook up a contraption like a science experiment and had to hook up a little contraption," said Kubichek, "It turned out fantastic I tried it yesterday and it will be ready to go for Saturday." 

You have one shot at tasting the special brew; there is only a half barrel for the special anniversary.

Beer doesn't take any breaks; Sawmill Brewing Company stays open seven days a week.

The one-year anniversary celebration starts at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The day will be full of live music, raffles, and of course, beer.


+ Read More

MADISON - Cheese may become Wisconsin's official dairy product.

Wisconsin lawmakers want to give cheese the honor after encouragement from some fourth-graders at Mineral Point Elementary School.

+ Read More

MADISON - The head of the Wisconsin Hospital Association is urging Gov. Scott Walker to parlay his influence with the White House and Republican leaders in Congress to make significant changes to the stalled health care overhaul bill.

Hospital Association President Eric Borgerding outlined more than a dozen points of concern in a letter marked as hand-delivered to Walker on Monday.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here