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Northwoods Spotlight: Merrill Karate Kids - May 15Submitted: 05/15/2013
Story By Marisa Silvas


MERRILL - Most of us don't have the chance to travel internationally... but some Karate students in the Northwoods are hoping to take their talents across the pond.

The Merrill Karate Club has been around since the early 1980's. They pride themselves in offering unique, high quality training for students of all ages.

Jon Gartmann is the Chief Instructor. "All it is is making the things they need to learn and the discipline and respect and the stances and the moves, and just putting a fun spin on it."

"You get to do the obstacle course and freeze tag," adds eight year old Kati Drury.


Seven year old Riley Gallagher says, "I like working with weapons. I have my own sword."

People choose to learn martial arts for many different reasons.

"I came here because of stress at work. I came to relieve some stress," explains Derek Berghammer another competitor. "I fell in love with it after that."

Jacob LePage recently earned a Black Belt. He's come a long way from when he first tried Martial Arts.

"I was really flippy," says LePage. "I would always jump off the couch."

The students have had so much success that 5 of them were invited to compete in Dublin, Ireland. But in order to get there, they're going to have to do some serious fundraising.

$30,000 in seven weeks to be exact.

They qualified in Watersmeet, Michigan. And will be 5 of only 75 people to represent Team USA in August.

"Team USA - we get a uniform and have lots of practice," young Kati Drury explains.

"Just amazing going to Ireland, adds LePage. "I'm just excited to see the scenery. Also excited for the tournament."


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PHILLIPS - An 82 year old man from the Phillips area died after his kayak overturned in Price County.

An emergency call came into the Price County Sheriff's Department just before 4:00 Wednesday afternoon.

A kayaker reported that another kayak had overturned on the Elk River about 4 miles east of Phillips.

The report was that the man was out of the kayak, but still in the water.

The victim was found unresponsive, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The man's kayak had collided with another kayak while trying to get past fallen trees which blocked the river.

Strong currents from recent rains swamped the victim's kayak.

The other kayaker was able to call for help from a nearby residence.

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RHINELANDER - Celebrating our nation's birthday with family and friends can be a great time. But it's good to keep safety in mind this weekend too.

The Rhinelander Fire Department responds to a few injuries every year from fireworks. That's far better than the national average of more than 10,000 fireworks-related injuries. But the most common injury actually comes from a firework many parents consider safe.

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MADISON - A Sun Prairie man accused of decapitating his mother with a sword last year has been committed to a state mental hospital.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed with a psychiatrist's report Wednesday that 41-year-old Matthew Skalitzky was mentally ill at the time of the killing.

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PHILLIPS - At a Phillips dairy farm on Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker announced that the state will pour $3.2 million into supporting more than 3,600 Youth Apprenticeships across the state next school year.

Both numbers are Wisconsin records.

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- You might enjoy getting on the water during this holiday weekend, but watch out for foreign plants and animals hitching a ride on your boat. Aquatic invasive species can attach to people's boats and trailers as they're entering or leaving the water.

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PLUM LAKE - St. Germain ATV riders will need to find a new route that avoids Plum Lake.

That's because the Plum Lake Town Board voted against opening up parts of two roads: Kurtzweil Road and Birch Spring Road. Both are on the border of Sayner and St. Germain and are shared between the two towns.

A few months ago, St. Germain asked Plum Lake to open parts of those roads as part of an ATV route. At first, the Plum Lake Town Board approved them. That was before they found out a section of Kurtzweil Road was completely in Plum Lake.

"At that time the Plum Lake Town Board by a 2 to 1 vote approved letting them use that, assuming at the time the two roads were boundary roads equally shared by Sayner and St. Germain," said Will Maines, the Plum Lake Town Chairman.

So when St. Germain came back to the next town meeting with an ordinance for the roads ready to go, the Plum Lake town board then voted no.

Maines said most of the people in Plum Lake don't want ATVs on their town roads. The board found this out from a survey of residents and taxpayers they sent out in 2015, where he said about two-thirds of non-resident property owners and about two-thirds of Plum Lake resident voters voted against allowing ATVs on town roads.

"We'd like to cooperate with the town of St. Germain, but we represent the people of Plum Lake, and they have given us the message loud and clear: they don't want us to allow them on any section of our roads," Maines said.

The St. Germain Town Chairman Tom Christensen said the decision is "disappointing," but, "it is what it is."

About 6 towns in the eastern part of Vilas County allow ATVs on town roads, but the towns in the western part of the county don't allow them on town roads.

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"Two to three times a week we're here," Barker said.

The Merrill mother brought her kids to the daily free lunch program at the park Wednesday morning. For Barker, the healthy meals make a big difference in her life.

"The generosity, the park, we go to the library, so it's all in a convenient area," Barker said. "And, it's all healthy food."

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