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."
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
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.
RHINELANDER - There was no severe weather Thursday, but sirens across the Northwoods were blaring at about 1:45 pm on Thursday.
That's because the National Weather Service held a statewide tornado drill.
It was part of their severe weather awareness week, and Oneida County took part in the drill.
"The sirens are only set off for warnings, in the city of Rhinelander, it's only going to be a Severe Thunderstorm Warning that is affecting the city area," said Oneida County Emergency Management Director Ken Kortenhof. "It's also going to be set off for a Tornado Warning affecting the area."
WisDOT leaders hopeful for increase in Northwoods rail
ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Railroads give businesses a chance to move loads of material for a low cost. Loggers could use rail as an alternative to trucking material, but many businesses donít get that opportunity in the Northwoods anymore.
Canadian National bought rail in the Northwoods about a decade ago. They have cut back service drastically since then.
Some counties haven't seen train travel in years, which hurts business. Now, those businesses want to reestablish rail service.
In response, a group of counties in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan formed the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission.
ACROSS THE U.S. - A new proposal from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would expand regulation on tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, not regulated already by the agency.
The proposal, which was released Thursday, would regulate hookahs, nicotine gels, cigars and e-cigarettes. The FDA currently only regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco.
Some smokers turn to e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking. Medical experts donít know the full health impact of e-cigarettes yet. Leaders at the FDA want to get ahead of the trend.
The proposal would make e-cigarette producers register their products and show their ingredients to the agency.
RHINELANDER - It won't be much longer before the Hodag water show gears up for the summer, but right now they need to make repairs to their building. Rod Olson says it may cost between $15,000 and $20,000 to make repairs to the building. To watch the video click on the video link.
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