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NEWS STORIES

Donations coming in for River Bend Trail in MerrillSubmitted: 06/28/2013
Story By Kailey Burton


MERRILL - A group in Merrill wants to build a 2 and-a-half mile bike trail along the Wisconsin River. They've had a lot encouragement from the community, and now they're starting to get financial support too.

It'll cost around $1,000,000 to make the River Bend trial safe, eco-friendly, and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"Once you start looking at environmental factors and safety factors, the dollars do start adding up. But we want this to be a high quality trail that's going to last for years and years," said Debbe Kinsey, Administrator for the Merrill Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The Merrill Chamber of Commerce Foundation is overseeing the project. Kinsey says economics, health benefits and recreational enjoyment make the trail worth every penny.

"How wonderful it will be to connect our downtown to Council Grounds State Park that gets over 200,000 visitors per year. And now they can walk or bike from Council Grounds all the way downtown once it's completed."

So they've raised $75,000 for the project. Kinsey says that money has come from private families for the most part. They're still waiting for bigger donations from local businesses. They hope to have the trail open by next summer.


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WASHINGTON, DC - Last week, 81 World War II, Korean, and Vietnam War flew veterans to Washington, DC, free of charge to see the memorials that stand in their honor. Veterans from our area left from Wausau on the Never Forgotten Honor Flight. It can be a challenge to convince the veterans to participate. They're humble and many feel like there are plenty of other veterans who are more deserving of the opportunity. One veteran who took some convincing is Dan Writz of Abbotsford.

"I just felt I never was qualified to go," Writz said.

It took a couple of years to convince him to go on the Never Forgotten Honor Flight. Writz served stateside as a radio repairman from 1950 to 1953, during the Korean War.

"I didn't think I did do what the people did to give their lives and everything for it," he said of taking the trip.

Writz may not have seen a war zone, but he sacrificed. He put his life in danger more than once. He was required to learn parachute jumping.

"Wind caught my chute and my chute was up in the air while I'm hitting the ground so, I kind of woke up with a helicopter above me and I said, 'I'm just fine. I'm just fine,'" he recalled.

Writz was 18 years old at the time. Sixty-three years later, he says he still has a dent in the back of his head.

His unit was selected to observe a nuclear bomb explosion. He returned to the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas a few years ago. Writz says museum workers were surprised he was still living.

"When the atomic bomb went off, we were in the trenches and the wind came past us and the sand just about covered us and then the suction when it came up, it just about pulled us out of the trenches," he explained.

"He is very humble. And to me, it says a lot about being a good role model for other people the willingness to go and serve," said Writz's daughter and Honor Flight guardian Jeanne Schreiner.

She convinced her dad to go on the flight. It was a family affair. Schreiner's brother served as one of the flight's medics. Her husband and his father, also a Korean war veteran, made the trip.

"My dad served in the first World War. I had three brothers that served in the second World War. One was in Germany. One was in Italy, and one was in Japan. And then the three younger ones, we were during the Korean conflict," Writz said. "I feel like I should really be going to see the things that are there because they're not here anymore. I've only got one brother that's living yet."

He may have finally realized he deserves the recognition.

"I normally don't break down in tears," Writz said. "But I went through tears all the way through the through the airport."

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WISCONSIN - Wisconsin Public Service encourages any emergency responders to apply for its "Safety is Worth the Energy" grants. It will award 25 $2,000 grants this year. All of WPS's service area can apply. Money is used for departments to provide special equipment or training which they otherwise wouldn't have. "This is the second year we're offering the "Safety is Worth the Energy" grant for our local emergency responders in our service area," said WPS Community Relations Leader Leah Van Zile. "That would be fire departments, emergency rescue squads, police departments."

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