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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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

Volunteers at Pointe Basse recreated a historical camp portraying lives of people from the 1700s and early 1800s.

Volunteers from all across the U.S. all had a piece of history to share.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

"People come to this whether there's good weather of bad weather," said Executive Director of the Eagle River Chamber Kim Emerson. "And with this year being great weather, we had above-average crowds and it was just spectacular. We're so happy about that."

By 3 p.m. Saturday, the World's Largest Cranberry Cheesecake had already been devoured. Sales of slices go towards the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin. 

Organizers said they also almost sold out of cranberries, but they said they would still have more to sell on Sunday. 

There were also dozens of craft vendors, food and wine and cranberry marsh tours.

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RHINELANDER - Harvest Hoedown started Saturday at noon at the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander.

The event had a hay maze, horse drawn carriage rides, food, and live music all afternoon.

"I think it's going great. We got a little sunshine right now. We got probably a couple hundred people here. People are buying food, spending money. It's what we're after," said Rhinelander Area Food Pantry Executive Director Guy Hanson.

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WOOD COUNTY - Two people who stole a UTV led police on a wild chase early Friday morning. Friday night, those suspects were still on the run.

The Wood County Sheriff's Office tells us a sporting goods store owner walked in as the burglary was happening, just before 7 a.m. The suspects took off in a red Dodge pickup truck pulling a trailer with the stolen UTV. They crashed through several gates to get out.

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RHINELANDER - A Wisconsin brewing company executive wants businesses to hire more veterans.

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ACROSS WISCONSIN - Abbotsford 62, Thorp 6

Algoma 24, Sturgeon Bay 8

Almond-Bancroft 61, Tigerton/Marion 6

Amherst 56, Manawa 6

Antigo 42, Lakeland 28

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