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Eight-year-old spearheads diaper driveSubmitted: 05/10/2013

Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com


STEVENS POINT - When you think of basic needs for people in poverty, you probably think of food, shelter, and maybe gas for the car.

But for people living in poverty WITH young children, something else can also be a big expense - and big problem if it's not around.

On Friday, we found a group looking to collect DIAPERS to help those in need.

The United Way of Portage County kicked off their No Child's Wet Behind Diaper Drive today.

One of their top spokespeople might be a little different than what you'd envision.

"Mom and dads can't always get out of the house or afford diapers, because they're apparently really expensive, so this is helping. We're going to distribute the diapers through Operation Bootstrap, and it's going to go to those families that need them," says Ellie Andrews.

Eight-year-old Ellie has done everything from speaking before groups to radio commercials to raise awareness for the diaper drive.

The Women's Fund of Portage County hosted the kickoff for the drive.

As well as collecting diapers, the Women's Fund and United Way want to raise awareness for the issue itself.

"Lots of people can relate to the expense of diapers because they've had children. But they don't put it into perspective to think, 'oh my gosh, if I'm making minimum wage or $10 an hour, to supply diapers to one child can mean 10% of my annual income'. That's a lot of money," says United Way of Portage County Director of Community Impact Patti Cahill.

The drive is also partnering with Portage County businesses and churches.

It officially runs from this Mother's Day weekend (this weekend) to Father's Day weekend in June.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

VILAS COUNTY - A 77-year-old man died in a crash near Boulder Junction late Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol, it happened around 3:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 51 and County Highway H.

Investigators think a van went through an intersection and hit a semi truck.

"There was injury," said Boulder Junction Fire Chief Matthew Reuss. "The two passengers in the van had to be extricated. One was taken to Howard Young Medical Center for further care. The driver of the semi was uninjured and the second passenger in the van was pronounced dead at the scene."

According to Wisconsin State Patrol, the driver of the van is a 68-year-old woman from Colby. Crews later took her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield for non-life threatening injuries. Her passenger, a 77-year-old male from Colby, died in the crash. They were both wearing seatbelts. 

The driver of the semi is 63 years old and from South Range. 

Traffic was rerouted through Boulder Junction for several hours and was reopened shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Several units responded to the scene.

"Because we had multiple patients, we dispatched multiple ambulance units," Reuss said. "We called in resources from Arbor Vitae for traffic control and we called Manitowish Waters for help in extrication and ambulance service as well as Medic 5 out of Howard Young."

State Patrol and the Vilas County Sheriff's Office will investigate the crash.

Police will not release the names until the families are notified. 

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STEVENS POINT - A baby in Portage County ended up in the hospital for seizures twice in three days last fall.  Police think the mother's live-in boyfriend may have shaken that baby.

Matthew Huettl, 25, pleaded not guilty to felony charges for first-degree reckless injury and child abuse in Portage County Court on Tuesday.

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HARSHAW - On his home computer, Phil Hejtmanek gets used to waiting patiently as webpages load, seeing spinning wheels as videos buffer, and putting work on pause as downloads slowly trickle in.

"Streaming a movie on Netflix is a pipe dream," Hejtmanek said with a laugh. "That's impossible."

Hejtmanek lives on West Horsehead Lake in the Oneida County town of Cassian. His best option for internet service is DSL provided by Frontier, a technology which is a distant memory for many people in cities.

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NORTHWOODS - Roads stayed fairly safe north of highway eight Tuesday, but an ice storm caused a lot of slick conditions south of there.

As of Tuesday morning, the state patrol dealt with more than 200 incidents around the region.

But for the most part, drivers weren't crashing into each other.

"The number of slide ins have really outnumbered the number of crashes, which kind of tells us that's good that motorists have been listening and kind of adding a little more distance between themselves and other vehicles so that's good, so it looks like the total number of slide ins have been significantly higher than crashes," said State Patrol Sergeant, Dan Gruebele

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EAGLE RIVER - The Vilas County Jail hopes to add two new corrections officers in 2017. But the jail needs more applicants by Friday.

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RHINELANDER - The farther south you go, the less snow you'll see. That's bad news for people who live there, but great for getting people to come to the Northwoods.

The Rhinelander Area Silent Trails Association puts in a lot of work, in part to attract more people to its trails. 

The group works with the Oneida County Forest to improve trails.

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RHINELANDER - The streets of downtown Rhinelander changed quite a bit over the last year. The construction will pick up again this spring, but there is a possibility for some last-minute changes to those construction plans.

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