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.
MERRILL - For 32 years Battalion Chief Mike Drury walked into the Merrill Fire Department ready to save lives. Friday he walked out of the department for the last time to start the new phase of his life. "It goes fast it goes really fast," said Drury. Drury was about 18 -years -old when he walked into the Merrill Fire Department for the first time. "When you're 18, 19,20 years old and you're looking at 50 something years old you think you're never going to get there," said Drury.
Drury is one of 184 firefighters to ever work full time with the city of Merrill. "As a firefighter they spend a lot of time at the fire house so they miss a lot of things," said Drury's daughter Cassi. After 32 years of missing birthdays, holidays and family time Drury was ready for a change. "I realized I had enough this is a young man's job," said Drury. Friday afternoon Drury said goodbye to a room of men who merged and became family. "Not having that is a little scary I know they'll always be our family but it's hard to leave," said Cassi. Cassi watched her dad rush off to help his community since the day she was born. "It's scary because you hear about the times things don't go right or the times fire fighters don't come home," said Cassi.
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