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Parade float brings transplant recipients togetherSubmitted: 07/02/2013
Story By Lex Gray


RHINELANDER - "Last year in early May, she woke up very ill after a weekend of birthday parties," said Michelle Wolfe. "She woke up, and by that evening, we found out she was in heart failure."

Wolfe found out a few weeks later that her daughter, Lauren, needed a new heart.

On June 27, she got one.

"We do think of that family often, to think about the fact that, in the face of a loss, they chose to give someone else new life," Wolfe said. "To see that life in front of us, that we share every day, is really special."


While most families were celebrating on Independence Day last year, Lauren and her family were in the hospital.

"It was a very emotional summer, and it impacts the whole family," said her grandpa, Tim Helmick.

This summer, they're not in the hospital. But Helmick still remembers all the other families who are waiting for an organ.

"It happened shortly after Lauren had her transplant, and it just popped into my head as something I felt I should do," Helmick said.

Tim is busy building a 4th of July parade float for transplant recipients and their families.

"When you see the impact and the new life it can give to somebody, it's like the ultimate gift of hope," Wolfe said.

Wolfe and Helmick hope people watching the parade will think about becoming a donor.

"There's an online registry that people can go out to sign up and commit their wishes to be a donor, [to] encourage people to think about it and decide whether they want to be an organ donor if that opportunity was ever presented, and to share those wishes with family members," Wolfe said.

To sign up for the organ donor float, call Tim 715-490-1261.

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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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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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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - We now know who were the three people killed during Wednesday's double-murder suicide in Wisconsin Rapids.

The Wisconsin Rapids Police Department says  36-year-old Justin Bohn of Wisconsin Rapids shot and killed his 5-year-old daughter, Paige, and his 3-year-old son, Devon.



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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 04/29/2016

- Local schools have stepped up to show their support for the Antigo community after last weekend's prom shooting. We'll show you what that effort looks like at Lakeland.

- Plus, a local greenhouse that was destroyed by a tornado in 2011 and was rebuilt is celebrating it's20th anniversary. We'll take you to the celebration.

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

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MERRILL - For six months, we wondered whether someone intentionally started what the fire department described as a suspicious house fire in Merrill.

Friday, the Merrill Police Department announced it has arrested the man believed responsible for the October 22, 2015 fire—22-year-old David Ostrowski of Merrill.

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RHINELANDER - Making sure nearly 400 families get enough to eat each month takes a lot of resources.

That's why the Rhinelander Area Food Pantry hopes a new spring fundraiser will help.

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RHINELANDER - Companies in any industry always try to come out with the latest and greatest technology.

The logging industry is no different. 

Pioneer Equipment demonstrated its latest Rottne forestry equipment Friday, including a harvester and a forwarder. 

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