MERRILL - Merrill's April 2011 tornado - ironically enough - flattened a campus that trained emergency workers and law enforcement.
Two years later, the Northcentral Technical College Public Safety Center is rebuilt.
It now offers an even higher level of training - with some of the coolest features around.
The new Public Safety Center will put what it offers against any training center in the state.
On Wednesday, we got our first look at the extensive Emergency Village and learning buildings that make up the NTC Merrill campus.
"I want you to know it's the only one in the entire technical college system. We have a unique opportunity to do some training that no other technical college has the opportunity to do - to put Merrill on the map," NTC President Dr. Lori Weyers told a crowd of over a hundred at the ribbon cutting.
Learners in fire, EMS, and criminal justice can use realistic scenarios to apply their classroom instruction.
But the Center's offerings aren't only targeted at NTC students.
The Merrill area community can take advantage as well.
"We'll be able to offer training for brand-new drivers, like a 16-year-old driver learning to do skid recovery, or for a person with a concealed carry permit, perhaps they want to learn how to use force and make decisions about use of force. In addition to just the public safety community that's out there, we'll offer a lot of classes that the general public will be able to enjoy," says NTC Dean of Public Safety Bryce Kolpack.
The Center plans to have almost 11,000 people use its services for learning every year.
PELICAN LAKE - Tribal members from across Wisconsin held a Deep Winter Camp to pass on parts of their cultures. Members from several different tribes wanted to give kids the chance to experience a piece of their culture. They hope the camp encourages younger members to keep traditions going and never forget where they came from. "They're going to be the next teachers they're good kids and we all love every kid that came here and spent time with us. They all learned something and they'll take it back and teach others," said Lac du Flambeau Band Vice Chairman John Johnson Sr.
CRANDON - Forest County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Justice was justified in shooting and killing 31-year-old Brandon Cude on Jan. 4, Forest County District Attorney Chuck Simono ruled Friday.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice released the results of its investigation in the case, and Simono's decision, Friday afternoon.
The DOJ documents detail how Cude swung a shotgun at Justice at close range. The deputy had just learned Cude had felony warrants against him, and Justice was trying to arrest Cude. Justice fired four shots on the scene, a rural road south of Crandon.
"He didn't get a shot off?" a fellow officer asked Justice after the shooting.
"No. He tried, though. Pulled that sucker out and pointed it right at me," Justice replied in an exchange recorded on a body camera.
EAGLE RIVER - Vilas County officers can now respond to active shooter calls better prepared.
All deputies and patrol offices now have access to steel-plated body armor, something only the Vilas County SWAT Team had before.
"We want to make sure our staff are fully protected," said Vilas County Sheriff's Office Captain Gerard Ritter. "I never want to see anything happen to any one of my staff. And we should outfit them with the protection they need."
Before the new body armor, Ritter said officers and deputies only had access to soft body armor.
"The weave material is designed to stop or slow down a projectile," said Ritter.
Officers will still wear the soft-bodied armor every day, but in active shooter situations, officers can now essentially double up on protection, protection once only offered to the SWAT Team.
"There has been an increase in active shooter incidences across the United States," said Ritter.
MINOCQUA - Many Lakeland Union High School parents kept their children home from school Friday. Threats to shoot up the school felt all too real after 17 people died in a Florida school this week. The high school stayed open Friday, however the atmosphere felt different. Friday students walked through a crowd of police and sat in nearly empty classrooms. "I didn't want to take the chance that something was going to happen to my son," said Lakeland Union High School parent Jennifer Stough.
Stough's 17- year- old son Zach had a lot to look forward to this weekend. Instead she kept him home Friday. "I have friends that went to school today and that makes me nervous," said Zach. Yesterday a student and teacher found shooting threats on a ladies bathroom stall suggesting a repeat of what happened in Florida.
"It's not a joke and we take these things seriously," said Minocqua Police Chief Dave Jaeger. Minocqua police quickly got involved. However, the threats didn't stop there.
RHINELANDER - Police think an Oneida County man downloaded hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls using a private chatroom.
During Danial Smith's preliminary hearing Friday, Smith's attorney asked if police had any way of knowing it was his client who downloaded the more than 700 photos.
The state Department of Justice learned a computer near Rhinelander downloaded the pictures in late 2016 thanks to a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The internet protocol (IP) addresses from the downloads were linked to Smith's home on County C in the town of Stella.
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