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.
NORTHWOODS - Home sales fell in the state of Wisconsin, but they're on the rise in the Northwoods.
Real Estate experts say home sales are up 5% in Oneida County. Home sales for the Northwoods are up 4%. Experts say right now it's a buyers market.
“If you're a seller right now you are probably going to be seeing some low ball offers,” says Ashlei Highfill, Century 21 Sales Associate. “We just encourage people to respond to any offer that they get not to just reject it or be offended but these days we are seeing a lot of buyers coming in and offering a lot less than what sellers are asking for.”
Experts say fewer homes are being foreclosed. This allows more families to make first time home purchases.
“It’s great to see that people are obviously getting back to work so they can afford to take that opportunity to put their family in their first home it's exciting for all of us,” says Highfill. “We're always happy to see somebody get that first house for their kids we're seeing some people that are making more money now so they're buying a move up house.”
Overall home sales in Wisconsin fell 11% compared to this time last year.
ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - 4.7 might seem like just a random number, but it gives us an idea of just how cold it was this year. 4.7 degrees was the average temperature for this winter. It's the coldest winter in more than a century.
It’s common to see these sights and hear these sounds in a typical winter. But this year, we heard them a bit more. The Northwoods fought through it’s snowiest and coldest winter on record. What made it so rare was the persistent cold.
MERRILL - Hospitals can sometimes scare kids and even many adults.
That's why one Northwoods hospital wants those kids to be comfortable with doctors if they ever need their help.
Merrill kindergarteners visited Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center on Wednesday.
The kids got to see an ambulance, physical therapy and x rays.
"We try to show them that you know what, the hospital isn't so scary. And we bring them through different areas that they may experience when they come in or they have a family member here. And a lot of times children, if they don't know, they're very afraid. A hospital can be very intimidating, says Jane Bentz, Director of Foundation and Community Outreach.
NORTHWOODS - People in Wisconsin love their beer, but alcohol is a big problem in the Northwoods. Experts want people to remember that alcohol is a drug and should never be abused.
Alcohol is a depressant and slows down the central nervous system. Experts feel drinking here in the Northwoods has become too normalized.
“When you talk to people even from the Northwoods community alcohol goes hand in hand with family gatherings , graduation, prom, hunting, snowmobiling, recreational activities,” says Katie Kennedy, Options Counseling Service Clinician. “It's kind of created this normalized look at alcohol that it's okay to do that in these environments or in these situations when it actually really increases risks.”
It's not just adults that have alcohol problems. Kids under 21 are finding unique ways to abuse the drug. Some have even resorted to snorting alcohol as a means to get drunk faster.
“What happens anytime you ingest a substance as far as snorting like right into your nose it goes into your mucus membrane,” says Kennedy. “So instead of drinking alcohol whereas it's processed through your system it's a process, the alcohol goes immediately into your body into your blood stream it affects you a lot quicker.”
In 2012 Wisconsin was the number one state for binge drinking. That's according to the Center for Disease Control. April is alcohol awareness month.
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