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

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
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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AMHERST - The small town of Amherst recently broke ground to replace their aging dam.

The dam was built on the Tomorrow River decades ago for power to the local feed mill.

The Wisconsin DNR believes the structure does not meet it's 500 year flood criteria.

This designation gave the town residents a choice.

"The determination of the DNR that the dam had to meet the 500 year flood lead us to the idea that we had to be able to release more water. The DNR basically brought this to the forefront and the village responded then," says Amherst Village President Michael Juris

This close knit town of just over 1000 residents took the decision very seriously.

"The residents of the village really had the opportunity to speak on what they wanted the vision of their village to be for the future. Whether to maintain the dam and the pond or to take it out and rehab it," says Juris.

Residents chose to keep the dam and thus the millpond.

With the decision made, the bidding process moved quickly and work has just started.

The new improved structure will use parts of the current one.

"Basically the stop plug structure of the dam is going to remain as it is because we found that in order to meet the 500 year flood requirements of the DNR we're going to be able to use the water that flows through the generating station," states Juris.

There were many options on the table and some that were just too expensive.

"It's been our determination that to dredge the millpond would be an expense that the taxpayers of the village at this time aren't going to be able to shoulder," says Juris

Still, bracing the structure to meet the DNR's strict 500 year criteria does not come cheap.

"We spent a fair amount of time in discussion before this decision was made because this is an expensive decision for a community our size. The original estimate was around 1.2 million dollars," says Juris.

Work moves quickly in Amherst as a completion date is set for this September.

"We expect that the substantial completion will be towards the end of August and with final completion early in September," says Juris.

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ASHLAND COUNTY - Investigators want to know what caused a car crash in Ashland County Tuesday morning that killed a Northland College student.

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LANGLADE COUNTY - Langlade County wants to become the new home for the state's forestry headquarters.

Lawmakers have asked the DNR to consider moving the department's headquarters from Madison to northern Wisconsin.

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MADISON - The state Department of Natural Resources board has unanimously approved shrinking the number of counties where hunters can shoot only bucks this fall.

The board signed off Wednesday on a fall season framework that makes 10 northern Wisconsin counties buck-only. That number is down from 19 counties in 2014 and 12 last year.

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THREE LAKES - You may soon be able to ride your ATV on parts of State Highway 32 in Three Lakes, if the state DOT approves the new route in the next few weeks.

The Three Lakes Nicolet ATV Club wants to connect downtown Three Lakes to the Nicolet National Forest.

To do that, it needs to open up parts of a six-mile portion of Highway 32 from Town Road X or Javen Road to Lake Julia Road.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Oneida County will soon house a lot more inmates and get paid for it.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office recently signed a contract with Wisconsin to keep state prisoners in the county jail.

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