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Local Emergency Responders Upgrade FacilitiesSubmitted: 05/19/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray and Lyndsey Stemm


Photos By Shardaa Gray and Lyndsey Stemm

LITTLE RICE - Summer can be a busy time for first responders, especially in places with a great outdoors.

As the demand for emergency services grows, some local fire crews and EMTs are updating their facilities.

The Little Rice Fire Department upgraded their canteen unit.

It's carries water, gatorade and food to keep crews fueled out in the field.

Plum Lake gave the department a $6,000 grant.

Plum Lake Resource supervisor Bill O'Brion also works at the department.

The new unit will be an asset for all neighboring firefighters.

"We've done lots of funding for different fire departments, but this is a unique project where the emergency service unit will respond to any fire department that needs the assistance or surrounding areas if they ask for help." O'Brion said.

Fire Chief Bob Reimert says this is not only essential to the community, but it keeps his staff busy as well.

"It's just what the people needed. It keeps the elderly people on our department busy," said Reimert.

"It gives them something to do. It gives them a part in the department which they need."

The canteen unit is stocked full and ready to go.

And The Crandon Area Rescue Squad can now comfortably house all it's members.

They built a $1 million, 5,200 square foot addition. They also remodeled the existing 2,500 square foot building into sleeping rooms for the EMTs.

About five years ago the squad found itself outgrowing the old building.

"We had people that wanted to join that lived too far out and they either had to stay in town. But there was no place for them to stay because they didn't have relatives or anybody here. So they used to sleep either on the floor or on a couch that was there," says DeElda Okrasinski, Crandon Area Rescue Squad President.

The squad has 21 members who serve Crandon and surrounding areas.

They received a grant that covered about half the million-dollar cost. But they plan to hold some fundraising events in the future to help pay off the rest.

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ADAMS COUNTY - Update-We now know the names of two men who died in a two car crash near the Wisconsin Dells over the weekend.

The Wisconsin State Patrol tells us 65 year old Timothy Helm and his passenger, 72 year old Frances Chowaniec died at the scene of the crash.

Both men were from Oxford.

24 year old Kolton Coon of Wisconsin Dells was the second driver.

He was taken to a hospital and expected to survive.

The crash happened Saturday afternoon around 2:00 on County Road B north of state highway 23 in Adams County.

Wisconsin State Patrol is still investigating.





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EAGLE RIVER - Riding through forests and past scenic lakes make the Northwoods one of the best places to go ATVing.

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- Until now, Price County has never had any type of public transportation.  Park Falls hasn't even had a taxi service in years.  That all changed in April with a new bus.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MERRILL - Grass fires forced a road in Lincoln County to be shut down for a while yesterday.

The first fire was reported at 11:30 yesterday morning in the Merrill area near the exit for US 51 near County K.

As fire crews were arriving, additional calls came in reporting fires near County Road C.

A short time later, another fire was reported north of County Road S.

That fire got into heavier brush, and parts of the road had to be shut down.

It took firefighters nearly an hour to put out the flames and check for hot spots.

The cause of the fires is not known yet.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - You often see tomatoes growing in gardens across the Northwoods, but making sure tomato plants stay healthy is difficult here in Wisconsin because of tomato blight.

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NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.

They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.

But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.

And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.

That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.

It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.

"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate. 

Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday. 

You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.

All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.

That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.

"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."

If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.


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MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.

Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.

Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.

"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."

On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.

Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.

The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.

"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."

Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer. 


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