RHINELANDER - Parents shouldn't be the ones to bury their children. When it does happen, families rely on the little things to help them get by.
But this spring, a Rhinelander family lost the main connection they have to their son who died far too young.
Dean Mueller passed away in an accident in 1997. He was just 9 years old. For 15 years, the Mueller family has placed a small Christmas tree at Dean's grave.
Every year, the family would add sentimental ornaments and trinkets to the tree in his memory.
But this spring, that tree disappeared. Dean's mother Tammy says it happened after the cemetery announced its spring clean up. . Families had until early last week to collect the things they placed by the graves.
"Yes, they did give us an extra month to get those items off, but my husband went on Tuesday and it was gone," Mueller said. "They said to check by the shed and nothing was there."
The Parks and Cemetery director feels badly, but doesn't see it as his department's fault. Gunder Paulsen wouldn't speak to us on camera, but he did explain families clearly understand the rules.
Winter decorations can stay up from December 1st through April 1st. Then new decorations can go back up May 1st.
This year was a little different with all the snow we had. Paulsen said his crews waited until the last two days of April to do their cleanup.
Tammy Mueller just wants her son's tree back.
"It means a lot," Mueller said. "That was his. It's something we can't give him anymore. Something that he's had for 15 years and 16 in November.
We can't replace it, we can't replace the ornaments."
Mueller says the staff told her they moved it near this shed, but that's the last anyone saw it.
The Parks and Cemetery director did tell Newswatch 12 he's very sorry and is not trying to be a monster, but this kind of thing can happen from time to time.
Tammy says she'd take the tree back, no questions asked.
MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials have pushed back the release of updates to their chronic wasting disease plan to this spring.
The DNR has a 15-year plan that expires in 2025. It calls for reducing local herds in isolated areas of infection that appear far from known disease clusters but centers largely on monitoring. The DNR's board ordered a review of the plan by this December amid concerns the disease has been spreading.
STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point police want your help finding suspects in two possible stabbings. The stabbings happened early Friday morning and early Sunday morning near downtown Stevens Point.
Friday, four young men got into a fight on Main Street. One man said he was stabbed in the chest. Police say the suspect is a black man in his mid-20s, about 5' 9" tall, with a muscular build and short hair. The victim was treated at the hospital and released.
Sunday morning, police responded to an incident at 2nd Street and Crosby Avenue. Witnesses heard glass breaking and people yelling about a stabbing. Police don't have a victim or suspect description in that case, but they don't believe the two stabbings are connected.
If you have any information about the stabbings, call Detective Sgt. Gruber at 715-346-1518.
You can also call Portage County Crimestoppers to remain anonymous at 888-346-6600.
RHINELANDER - Hockey players in Rhinelander will see some big changes.
After getting a large anonymous donation, the Rhinelander Ice Association will get a new training area, weight room, locker room, and more.
Since work began in August, framing for the building has gone up and dry wall will be put in next week.
"Just the whole project is really exciting and really going to come together and improve Rhinelander, and improve athletics in Rhinelander," said Rhinelander Ice Association Rink Manager Brett Aylesworth.
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