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Bringing Awareness on Sexual Violence One Step at a TimeSubmitted: 05/04/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray

Bringing Awareness on Sexual Violence One Step at a Time
Photos By Shardaa Gray

WAUSAU - An abuse shelter in Wausau wants to get the word out on sexual violence, one step at a time.

The Women's Community Incorporated held the 5th annual Steps Against Violence 5 and 10k run today.

You might have recognized some familiar faces there.

Newswatch 12's Lex Gray, Hayley Tenpas and Kira Lynne participated in the run.

Executive Director, Jane Gram Jennings says sexual assault is a big issue everywhere, including the Northwoods.

"From children who are sexually abused to adults who are sexually assaulted, it happens far too often and we need to talk about it," Jennings said.

"we need to make sure people feel safe telling and that they don't feel ashamed. You can't blame victims. We have to help support them and make it ok for them to talk about it."

The Women's Community helps all people of any gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Programs like theirs are growing.

"If you're not from this area directly, you can still get the help you need when you need it," said Jennings.

"Just go through the coalition sites through the states and they can hook you up with your local agency."

Jennings says they'll have another race in October for Domestic Violence.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

MERRILL - The Merrill Fire Department wants you to stay safe, especially when it comes to fires.

There is a difference between campfires and bonfires.

Campfires are small fires used for cooking and heating, not the kind of fire you need to stand back from because it's so hot.

Always remember to fully put out fires before you leave.

And watch kids when they're near the fire.

"When you're making those fires, they're keeping an eye on how you're doing it. So once in a while they like to try to do it themselves," says firefighter Jon Leiskau.

Wildland fire season is about to wrap up, but you still need to pay attention to burning restrictions.

"Anything bigger than a campfire size: fire with a fire permit, and there is no open burning in the city limits," says firefighter Rick Sparks.

Fire danger signs are changed every day according to the weather conditions.

You can also visit the DNR website for updates.

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MEDFORD - The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Virginia Tech University, and Sandy Hook School in Connecticut all stir memories of deep fear and sorrow.

Mass shootings can happen anywhere, at any time.

In rural areas like northern Wisconsin, county courthouses could be prime targets. Taylor County trained for that possibility this week with an active-shooter simulation.

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RHINELANDER - Most people stop by Rhinelander's chamber of commerce to get their picture taken with the giant hodag out front. Visitors to the chamber can also stock up on Rhinelander trinkets and gear.

Now, the chamber has decided to downsize its store in order to let someone else set up shop. 

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TOMAHAWK - Tomahawk Police Chief Al Elvins takes pride in his department's connection to the community. 

And many members of the community clearly feel the same way.

Augie's Collectibles owner Richard "Augie" Augustine donated eight ballistic helmets and a shield to the Tomahawk Police Department.

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RHINELANDER - One Rhinelander woman may see a 10-year-old bucket list wish come true.

On Monday the Rhinelander Parks Committee supported having a dog park at Shepard Park in Rhinelander. 

For 10 years Tina Werres has been advocating to get support for a dog park in Rhinelander.

The decision is now left to the Rhinelander City Council, which is scheduled to vote on June 12.

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VILAS COUNTY - Many people love sightseeing on two wheels throughout the Northwoods. Now, you can get a prize for doing it.

"Bike the Heart" encourages riders to explore the different communities along the Heart of Vilas County Trail.

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- A Nicolet College club provides a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and allies to socialize and discuss personal issues related to gender and sexual orientation.

However, outside of the campus, there is no supportive group in the Northwoods. Now, the Rainbow Hodags Club is helping to get a community LGBT group started. Club member Don Schindhelm says he wishes a club like this existed years ago.

"I really felt like I didn't know anyone else who was gay or lesbian. It was frowned upon, so I suppressed it for most of my life. That's why I struggled with it for so many years," said Schindhelm.

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