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Hodag advances to Round 2 of USA Today mascot challengeSubmitted: 03/05/2013
Story By WJFW News Team

Hodag advances to Round 2 of USA Today mascot challenge
RHINELANDER - Pat yourself on the back if you voted for the green and white. You helped get the Rhinelander Hodag one step closer to being the best mascot in the nation.

The votes are in and the Hodag made it through round one.

The mythical beast ran against four other Wisconsin mascots in the USA Today contest. It won with more than 80,000 votes.

But round two won't be easy. Regionals feature an Illinois winner that got more than 675,000 votes. The Hodag also faces the Minnesota and Indiana winners.

Voting starts Wednesday at 10 a.m. We have a link to where you can vote below.

The national winner will receive $2,000 for its athletic department. Second place will be awarded $1,000, third $500, fourth $250 and fifth $100.

Related Weblinks:
Vote Here starting Wednesday at 10 a.m.

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PARK FALLS - Many families began their Thanksgiving Day with a run this morning. Topping off the holiday with a "trot" around town may not appeal to everyone, but for these families it was a way to spend time with one another.

"Trot now so we can pie later," said Steph Schultz, a runner in the Park Falls Turkey Trot.

Families used the Turkey Trot 5K in Park Falls as a way to bond.

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WOODRUFF - As Father Aaron Devett gave his Thanksgiving Day sermon at Holy Family Catholic Church in Woodruff Thursday morning, a service of a different kind was happening in the kitchen. 

"We kind of see these two feasts coming together," said Devett. 

Every year, volunteers cook, serve, and deliver meals to people for Thanksgiving. 

John Danner has been organizing the big meal for more than 20 years. When he first started, he was cooking for about 50 people, now it's nearly 600. 

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MERRILL - Most people enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with family. But the Merrill firefighters spend their Thanksgiving at the station with their second family, their coworkers. Community members stepped in to make sure the firefighters still had a special Thanksgiving while they were working. 

It might be Thanksgiving, but for the Merrill Fire Department, it's just another day

But it is a day with more turkey, stuffing, and pies. 

"We had a couple of community organizations that dropped off meals for us which we're definitely grateful for," said firefighter and paramedic Bryson Cruise.

The job doesn't stop for firefighters and Thanksgiving is no exception. 

So Park City Credit Union and Hands of Hope wanted to thank the firefighters for their service with a home cooked Thanksgiving meal. 

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RHINELANDER - Nineteen months ago, 10 police agencies surrounded the Tripoli home of Kenneth Welsh.

Police say Welsh caused a three-hour standoff, threatened to blow up his house, and threatened to kill his wife.

Later in court, he was convicted of two felonies and sentenced to three years in prison by Oneida County Judge Michael Bloom.

But now, those convictions and prison sentence have been erased. This month, while in prison, Welsh argued he didn't fully understand all the elements of one of the crimes to which he pleaded no contest, first-degree recklessly endangering safety. Welsh's motion put some of the blame on his defense attorney, Rod Streicher.

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BESSEMER, MI - Search teams found a 65-year-old Woodruff woman dead in Michigan's Upper Peninsula Wednesday morning.

The Gogebic County Sheriff's Office searched Black River Harbor (which is north of Bessemer) after receiving information that the woman might be in the area.

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RHINELANDER - This holiday season, you might want to tell your child to hug family members at holiday gatherings.

The Girls Scouts of the USA hopes you won't. The organization is saying daughters don't owe anyone physical affection, and that the expectation of hugs and kisses could have bad aftereffects later in life.

"I think for some people, it is a new concept," said Melissa K., the domestic violence coordinator at Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual assault, which is based in Rhinelander.

In a post, the Girl Scouts of the USA told parents their daughters don't "owe anyone a hug. Not even at the holidays."

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RHINELANDER - For the last six years, chambers of commerce across the state collected more than 100,000 items for the Department of Tourism's Big Bundle Up campaign.

The drive collects warm clothing for people who can't afford it. 

The Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce donates the items it collects to Warm for Winter in Rhinelander. 

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