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.
NORTHWOODS - It seems more all-natural and specialty food stores are popping up around the Northwoods. Antigo and Three Lakes welcomed new all-natural and specialty food stores this year. And last week, Eagle River welcomed one, as well.
"We were painstaking about finding things that you cannot find at other shops here in the Eagle River area," said Homeward Bound Specialty Foods owner Patti Katz Black. She and her husband, Dave, opened their Eagle River store last week.
MOLE LAKE - Health workers often face different challenges on the Sokaogon Chippewa reservation in Mole Lake compared to elsewhere in the Northwoods.
"I think they're a little different. We have a (few) more challenges. Sometimes, for a lot of people, it's more crisis than prevention, or preventative services," said Tammy Queen, who works at the Sokaogon Chippewa Health Clinic. "A lot of times, they'll come in when something's bad instead of coming in before something gets really bad."
On Thursday, the tribe wanted to get people thinking about their health before problems occur.
CRANDON - The case against an 18-year-old Laona man will go ahead after a Forest County judge found enough evidence to move forward Wednesday.
Austin Ginter, 18, faces reckless homicide charges in Forest County after a car crash killed 15-year-old Chance Harcus. Another 16-year-old girl was also injured in the July 13th car crash on Old 8 Road west of Crandon.
New information from a preliminary hearing Wednesday shows that Ginter only had his driver's license for two weeks before the crash.
ANTIGO - Just a few months ago, the Moore Family was looking for a new affordable home. They filled out paperwork with the local Habitat for Humanity chapter in Langlade County and were told yes.
"We look for a number of things; we look for an identified need, and the need for housing if the current housing is not serving the family's needs," said Langlade Habitat for Humanity President Paul Grinde.
For the home to become theirs, the Moore's must put in 500 sweat-equity hours divided between themselves and volunteers. Leaders say it doesn't matter what set of skills you have, all you need to do is donate a little bit of your time.
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