MERRILL - Plenty of kids will experiment with 911 once or twice even if they're not in danger. Most learn their lesson after one time and don't do it again. But 117 prank calls in 6 months from one kid? That's out of control.
"The most recent was a 'man with a gun' call where there was an active shooter allegedly involved in the city of Tomahawk," Lincoln County Sheriff's Lt. Tim Fischer said. "We had to send many resources, lights and sirens to the scene until we realized it was our prank caller."
But it's not just a kid in Tomahawk making those calls. The number of fake 911 calls is going up, tripling in Lincoln County over the last 10 years. In 2012, the county logged 1619 fake calls, averaging 4.4 per day. Lt. Fischer says that causes several safety issues.
"Our squad cars are going lights and sirens, they're typically exceeding the speed limit, greater risks while driving. What people don't think about is if we're responding to a prank 911 call, we might not be available for the real one that's coming in right behind it," Fischer said.
Prank calls are only one piece of the puzzle. A vast majority of fake dials come from pocket dials -- where phone buttons get pushed accidentally in your pocket or purse.
And what about your old cell phones? It can be easy to give them to your kids to play with. Rhinelander Team Wireless store manager Tim Antoniewicz says that should be avoided.
"If you do still want to give your phones to your kids to play with, you're going to want to remove the battery to make it non-functional so it can't dial 911," Antoniewicz said.
That's one call Lt. Fischer hopes all parents decide to make for their kids.
"If you want to play with 911, get a play phone, get a plastic phone, hit 911, learn where those buttons are," Fischer said. "But don't call us to see if it's going to happen."
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.
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.
ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - 4.7 might seem like just a random number, but it gives us an idea of just how cold it was this year. 4.7 degrees was the average temperature for this winter. It's the coldest winter in more than a century.
It’s common to see these sights and hear these sounds in a typical winter. But this year, we heard them a bit more. The Northwoods fought through it’s snowiest and coldest winter on record. What made it so rare was the persistent cold.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - People from all over the Northwoods celebrated Earth Day today. Students at Lac du Flambeau school participated in a natural resources fair today.
Classes, groups and individual students submitted projects to be judged. By doing the projects they learned the importance of Earth Day.
“Polluting could harm the earth and if that harms the earth later on we won't have a better earth to do stuff on like camping, or fishing, hiking and taking walks,” says Sky Risingsun, a Lac du Flambeau student.
35 projects were judged in the science competition. Each student was given a white spruce seed to take home and plant in their own yard.
“It's a white spruce which is a native tree to this area,” says Bryan Hoover, Lac du Flambeau Energy and Air Quality Coordinator. “We've got almost 500 of them and every student is going to take one home so that they can pick a spot in their yard to plant the new tree and watch that tree grow as it matures.”
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