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NEWS STORIES

UPDATE: Vilas County Sheriff dies after illnessSubmitted: 06/20/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm


EAGLE RIVER - The Vilas County Sheriff's Office loses its leader overnight. Frank Tomlanovich gave 34 years of service to Vilas County, and dedicated his life to law enforcement.

The 61-year-old sheriff passed away early this morning. Tomlanovich died in his home after a short illness.

Captain Russ Kennedy says it was a shock for everyone.

"Frank was well liked in the community and extremely well liked by his men; they enjoyed serving under him. Excellent sheriff, a very good man, we'll miss him dearly," says Captain Kennedy.

Captain Kennedy says they are mourning the Sheriff's passing. But the department will have to keep working.

"I've been telling the officers to keep working hard, as always. Keep moving forward, we'll get through this. Ultimately the Governor will have to appoint an interim sheriff to take over the duties that Frank had. He would tell us all the same thing: keep working hard, keep your chin up and move forward," says Captain Kennedy.

The Sheriff started his career at the Eagle River Police Department. Then he was a patrol deputy and detective sergeant with the Sheriff's Office. He became sheriff in 2010.

Governor Scott Walker made a statement today about the sheriff: "Tonette and I send our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Vilas County Sheriff Frank Tomlanovich. Sheriff Tomlanovich dedicated his life to protecting and serving the people of northern Wisconsin. We honor his life of public service and send our thoughts and prayers to all who knew him."



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MERRILL - The Community Warming Center in Merrill finished up its first winter season a few weeks ago. The center provides a place to stay for people in need from November through April.

The guest's ages ranged from 22 to 45 years old. The center is run through the Merrill United Way. The Warming Center's director said its first year went much better than expected.

"It's kind of like building the field of dreams and not knowing if anyone will come to play, or to stay in our case," said Merrill United Way Executive Director Dee Olsen. "But what ended up happening was the community was responsive and we ended up with 11 guests throughout the season with 90 user nights."

The center is already preparing for the next season. They have new blankets and pillows ready for their next year.

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"We start with green coffee. It comes in 130 to 155 pound sacks of coffee," said owner of Eagle River Roasters Dan Beihoff.

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RHINELANDER - Last year, a valve malfunction in eastern Wisconsin sent natural gas leaking into the air. A similar situation in the Northwoods could cut off gas supply to a whole city and be dangerous to people in the nearby area.

Wisconsin Public Service wants to be ready in case something like that happens. A natural gas station near the intersection of Highways 8 and 47 provides natural gas to most of Rhinelander. Workers rushed there on Monday, simulating their response to a leak.

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Workers chopped down a stand of phragmites on Monday. It stood on Highway 8 just west of Rhinelander. It had been chemically treated in the fall. Hopefully, that will help control the spread of the species.

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"If we were seeing a reaction, for example a tingling of the mouth, swelling of the throat, a visual that a student might give us if they are unable to breath at that time, we would immediately administer an EpiPen," Director of Pupil Services Unified School District of Antigo Karen Baker.

Teachers watch carefully for possible allergic reactions, especially at recess and on field trips.

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Local kids help protect batsSubmitted: 04/27/2015

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Kids in Rhinelander Monday learned about endangered bats across Wisconsin on Monday. A bat expert with Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest showed the importance of keeping bats healthy. The students helped local scientists by building new homes for the bats.

"Ms. Swaney showed us a presentation about the bats with a speaker and now we're building them," said 7th grader Jackie Wells.

"They have predators and it will kind of keep them safe in their little bat homes," said 7th Grader Connor Lund.

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