RHINELANDER - Don't expect to get away with drinking and driving this weekend.
On a weekend when everyone's a little Irish, the Oneida County Sheriff's Office wants you to be more than a little smart.
Oneida County will beef up drunk driving and seatbelt enforcement the entire weekend. They're able to do that thanks to a $12,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Sheriff's Lieutenant Lloyd Gauthier knows the holiday brings out many more people than an average weekend.
"The possibility of people driving while impaired, and that concerns us," Lt. Gauthier said.
"Our motto at the Sheriff's Office is we're committed to our community. And a big commitment is safety. Wanting people to get out and enjoy the time, have a good time. But take advantage of the programs that are out there through the Oneida County Tavern League, including the Safe Ride Home program."
That Safe Ride program is available at any participating Tavern League Bar. All you have to do is ask a bartender for your free ride.
Lt. Gauthier says people seem to be drinking more responsibly the last few years.
But he also points to a disturbing statistic: more than 500 traffic deaths in Wisconsin last year.
"That's why the DOT is so focused on getting these grants out each year," Gauthier said. "They see that there is a positive side to it with additional enforcement that those numbers are coming down."
The DOT gives out the grants based on where they see roadways that could be safer.
This grant is broad. That means Sheriff's Patrols could be on any road, both county and city or town.
Dane County judge to hear Planned Parenthood lawsuit
MADISON - A Dane County judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging a 2012 law that sets out conditions for abortions.
The law requires a doctor to determine whether the woman's consent is voluntary and inform the woman of domestic abuse services if he or she suspects the woman is being coerced. The law also requires doctors to perform a physical exam before they can prescribe abortion-inducting drugs and be in the room when the drugs are given to the woman.
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in February 2013 arguing the law is unconstitutionally vague. The organization argues its unclear how doctors should determine voluntary consent and whether doctors need to be present when drugs are dispensed or administered.
Judge Richard Niess is set to hear arguments Thursday morning.
MADISON - The start of a new short-term loan program that wasn't slated to begin until July has been moved up in an effort to help businesses hurt by recent cutbacks at Oshkosh Corp.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state's chief jobs agency, voted this week to start the pilot program earlier. It will provide loans or loan guarantees of up to $250,000 to companies for projects or expenses that may not be eligible for traditional financing.
The board says it was starting the program earlier in light of news that Oshkosh was cutting 760 jobs from its defense division because of budget cuts being made by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The loan program this year will only target businesses in Oshkosh Corp.'s supply chain
MADISON - Wisconsin police could not track cellphone locations without a warrant under a bill Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law.
The measure Walker signed Wednesday passed the Legislature in February with no opposition.
Under the new law, police would have to present details about their investigation when seeking a warrant to track a cellphone. That includes the phone's owners or whoever is possessing it, the subject of the investigation, a statement of the crime and a statement of probable cause about how tracking the cellphone is related to criminal activity.
The bill was among 55 bills Walker signed privately.
MERRILL - Hospitals can sometimes scare kids and even many adults.
That's why one Northwoods hospital wants those kids to be comfortable with doctors if they ever need their help.
Merrill kindergarteners visited Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center on Wednesday.
The kids got to see an ambulance, physical therapy and x rays.
"We try to show them that you know what, the hospital isn't so scary. And we bring them through different areas that they may experience when they come in or they have a family member here. And a lot of times children, if they don't know, they're very afraid. A hospital can be very intimidating, says Jane Bentz, Director of Foundation and Community Outreach.
NORTHWOODS - Home sales fell in the state of Wisconsin, but they're on the rise in the Northwoods.
Real Estate experts say home sales are up 5% in Oneida County. Home sales for the Northwoods are up 4%. Experts say right now it's a buyers market.
“If you're a seller right now you are probably going to be seeing some low ball offers,” says Ashlei Highfill, Century 21 Sales Associate. “We just encourage people to respond to any offer that they get not to just reject it or be offended but these days we are seeing a lot of buyers coming in and offering a lot less than what sellers are asking for.”
Experts say fewer homes are being foreclosed. This allows more families to make first time home purchases.
“It’s great to see that people are obviously getting back to work so they can afford to take that opportunity to put their family in their first home it's exciting for all of us,” says Highfill. “We're always happy to see somebody get that first house for their kids we're seeing some people that are making more money now so they're buying a move up house.”
Overall home sales in Wisconsin fell 11% compared to this time last year.
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