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NEWS STORIES

New canine unit making drug crimes more difficult in TomahawkSubmitted: 06/14/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

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TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk Police Department saw some major staffing changes in the past year. There's a new police chief, and it got its first non-human member.

The department launched a major crackdown on drug crimes in the area. Now, that newest member has hit the streets to help them out.

Meet Vali, Tomahawk's new drug dog. Vali and her partner Officer Ryan Picl have only been on the job together for two weeks. But in that short time, Vali already shows major promise.

"We've deployed her six times on cars and she's alerted on every one of them. And items have been found inside each car," says Picl.

Vali isn't a patrol dog. That means she doesn't chase and bring down suspects. But she can track people, and she's trained to find all kinds of drugs.

"She's trained for marijuana, coke, methamphetamine, opiate base like heroin and amphetamines," says Picl.

For the canine handler, it's a 24 hour a day, seven day a week commitment. Chief Al Elvins says Picl is the right man for the job.

"Ryan's got a drive and he's able to be aggressive without showing an aggressive nature to people. If he knows that his job is to go out there and make the street safer that's what he's going to do rain, shine, day or night," says Chief Elvins.

The duo will be instrumental in the department's effort to make it harder for people to bring drugs into the community. The drug crackdown has already been successful. In past years, the most drug cases Tomahawk police have had was 84. This year, they've already reached 101, and it's only June.

"We're getting a lot of kudos, but it's nothing I've done. The only thing that I've done in this department is taken the handcuffs off the officers and told them to do their job," says Chief Elvins.

The police have another partner: the community.

"The Animal Clinic of Tomahawk, Dr. Julie has gone above and beyond for us. She's given us all her services for free. One vendor that she had gave us food for life so it's absolutely no cost to the taxpayers," says ," says Chief Elvins.

If people keep contributing the way they have been, there will be enough in the canine fund to bring another dog onto the force when Vali retires.

You can contribute to the canine fund by contacting the Tomahawk Police Department.



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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 11/26/2014

- The Northwoods teaching assistant accused of having sex with an underage teen reached a plea deal. Find out more tonight on Newswatch 12.

- Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) wants a spot on the legislature's powerful budget committee. Find out which Northwoods lawmaker beat him to it.

- It's a double whammy for cranberry growers in the Northwoods " a smaller harvest, and lower cranberry prices. What the U.S. government is doing about it, tonight on Newswatch 12.

- Your organization can get some free help solving a challenge or working on a project. 16 members of the Leadership Oneida County program are spending 9 months getting to know the services and organizations in the county.

- And success keeps coming for a musician native to Eagle River. Autumn Skibinski and her band "Only on Tuesdays" started a Kickstarter campaign back in July to help fundraise for an Extended Play (EP) album. Lac Vieux Desert Resort Casino in Watersmeet, Michigan donated the full amount to Autumn's band. The band completed work on the project, and released the EP Tuesday. We'll have reaction from Autumn on her group's success coming up tonight.

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

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Balanced plate could be best option for Thanksgiving mealSubmitted: 11/26/2014

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- Americans will eat more than 40 million turkeys Thursday, and that won't be the only delicious food on the table.

Thanksgiving can start weight gain for many people across the country. Dieticians like Jennifer Mikulich with Aspirus say this is the time of year when some patients avoid their dieticians. She believes the key to a healthy day is a balanced plate.

"You know have a balance between those foods that have some carbohydrates and those foods that don't," Mikulich said. "If you're somebody that is a really big sweet eater and you know there is pecan pie and pumpkin pie, well maybe you won't have the dinner roll and the mashed potatoes."

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Milwaukee students protest Ferguson shooting caseSubmitted: 11/26/2014

MILWAUKEE - The family of a black man fatally shot by a white police officer in Milwaukee is showing solidarity with the family of Michael Brown.

More than 100 protesters gathered in Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee and then marched through the streets Tuesday demanding justice for both Brown and for Dontre Hamilton, a Milwaukee man killed by Officer Christopher Manney earlier this year.

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Small Business Saturday: why stores want you to shop localSubmitted: 11/26/2014

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RHINELANDER - Following Thanksgiving Day shopping and after Black Friday, Northwoods businesses hope you'll stick around for one more shopping day- Small Business Saturday.

The day encourages shoppers to stay local and help businesses in the community.
Small Business Saturday first began in 2010.

Last year consumers spent about $5.7 billion at independent stores.

Shops like Imaginuity in Rhinelander have jumped on board to bring in customers.

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Eagle River native releases album with her bandSubmitted: 11/26/2014

EAGLE RIVER - A Northland Pines graduate keeps finding success as a musician.

Autumn Skibinski started a Kickstarter campaign back in June for her band "Only on Tuesdays."

It's helped finance her band's extended play album.

Now, that record, entitled "Break Free," was released this week.

The group credits the generosity of complete strangers for the revenue.

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Eve of Thanksgiving one of the busiest days of year for grocery storesSubmitted: 11/26/2014

EAGLE RIVER - The average Thanksgiving dinner for ten people will cost a little more than $49 this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

On Wednesday, people spent the last of those dollars on meal preparations.

Store managers at Trig's in Rhinelander and Pick 'n Save in Eagle River expected a rush of customers to pick up certain last-minute items on Wednesday.

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Northwoods woman accused of having sex with son's underage friend reaches plea dealSubmitted: 11/26/2014

VILAS COUNTY - The former Northwoods teaching assistant accused of having sex with an underage teen reached a plea deal in Vilas County Court on Wednesday.

41-year-old Jody Shepherd pled no contest to a felony charge of second degree sexual assault of a child under 16.

A second count was dismissed as part of the deal.

Shepherd was a special ed teaching assistant at North Lakeland School in Manitowish Waters.

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