Minocqua Marathoner Home Safe from BostonSubmitted: 04/17/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer

MINOCQUA - Co-workers of Matt Thomas hugged him more today than they ever have before.

He's a Minocqua runner who finished his fourth Boston Marathon just before two explosions killed three and injured almost two hundred of people.

"It was just completely different," Thomas said.

Thomas finished his fourth Boston Marathon Monday on what he called a perfect day to run.

Watching for two other Lakeland area friends to come to the finish line…

He said it was like loud, close fireworks or a Revolutionary War style cannon.

"People were like, is that normal? I said, 'I've been here for four years, and I've never seen anything like that'. I think it was about 20 seconds later, but , I don't know, time kind of goes funny, then, in that situation, the second explosion went off," Thomas said.

That was when he knew it was no accident, and no celebration.

"People got blown into the course, and the barricades got blown over by the blast. Right away, by seeing what had happened to the people and the barricades coming out into the course, you knew something was not right," said Thomas.

He looked around him for backpacks or trash cans that could be another bomb, and didn't see any.

Because of that, he decided not to move from his spot a couple hundred yards from the explosions.

Instead, he watched the emergency workers rushing to help.

"It was pretty incredible. To see the response - when the second blast went off, the first police cars and the first fire trucks, first two fire trucks and ambulance were there within seconds," Thomas said.

Boylston Street, once packed with thousands of people, was nearly deserted.

That took just minutes.

But it took closer to hours for the entire Northwoods group to reunite - all of them totally safe.

Thomas could take at least one positive from Monday - his marathon time qualifies him for next year's Boston.

So will he go back to run at that same place?

"My view is, I'm going to run Boston because, if you don't run Boston, then you're giving the people who did this exactly what they wanted which is, you're afraid of doing things you normally did," he said.

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PARK FALLS - Many people in the Northwoods go to church on Sunday mornings, and for some of them it may be begrudgingly.

But there are plenty of people, often elderly or sick, who want to go to church but have a hard time doing so.

Peace Lutheran Church in Park Falls wanted to change that. Since May, they've been undergoing some construction. On Sunday, the church had a dedication ceremony for a special new addition—an elevator.

Now people like 100-year-old Ruth Olson can worship with greater ease.

Before the elevator, Olson said she would get to church by literally pulling herself up the stairs using the railing.

Olson's story is like many. As the older population grows, church buildings don't evolve with them. The buildings are often old and sometimes lack accomodating features for the elderly or disabled, and takes money to update the buildings.

"We have churches where the people are getting older and it's very hard for people to get around," said Rev. Dwayne Lueck, the district president for the North Wisconsin District Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod.

Some parishoners couldn't do what Ruth used to do, and so they would have to worship at a service held across the street in the day care center, instead of in the beautiful church.

"Now all the services can be over here," said Rev. Dale Heinlein, the pastor of Peace Lutheran.

The congregation at Peace Lutheran believed in an elevator, so they paid for it.

"We been talking and planning this for...a long time," said Dick Ross, president of the congregation. "Pretty hard for some of the people, and I think you saw them, pretty hard for some of the people to worship here, so it was time."

"You can see it in their eyes more than anything when they know they have access and when they come up here and just enter the building and no steps, it's a great thing," said Buzz Peters, a parishoner who helped design the new elevator and space.

"We can finally have access for everybody to get into the worship facility, free access, that's what this is all about," Heinlein said. 

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The bill sponsored by Sen. Duey Stroebel and Rep. Rob Brooks would transfer $47 million in federal funding from local projects to state projects and move $47 million in state dollars from state projects to local ones.

Stroebel says the swap would save money by removing local projects from burdensome federal regulations.

He has been a vocal advocate for doing away with prevailing wage statutes, which require minimum salaries for workers on government-funded construction projects.

Spokeswomen for GOP legislative leaders didn't respond to inquiries about the bill's chances.

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MADISON - New state data show that nearly 15,000 Wisconsin residents lost access to food stamps in the first three months of a new law that requires some recipients to seek jobs.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1Ple8j5 ) it obtained the data from the Department of Human Services under the state open records law.

The rule took effect in April for participants in the state's food stamp program, FoodShare. It requires able-bodied adults without children living at home to work at least 80 hours a month or look for work to stay in the program.

The DHS data show about 25 percent of the 60,000 recipients eligible to work were dropped from the program between July and September. But about 4,500 found work through a new job training program for FoodShare recipients.

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MINOCQUA - It's that time of year again.

Minocqua kicked off its' Christmas celebrations Saturday.

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WOODRUFF - If they haven't already, people will start bringing out the Christmas decorations.

And it wouldn't be complete without that perfect Christmas tree.

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MOUNT HOREB - A southern Wisconsin school district has cancelled plans for elementary school students to read a children's book about a transgender girl after a group threatened to sue.

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MAUSTON - Authorities are investigating the death of a person who was found unresponsive in Decorah Lake early Friday.

Kyle Lynch, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden for Juneau County, says he was called to the scene to assist in a boat search about 1:30 a.m. He also says the Mauston Fire Department recovered the body, which was found in the water.

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