Local woman celebrates 100th birthday with special balloon releaseSubmitted: 07/05/2013
Story By Lauren Stephenson

WAUSAU - One Wausau nursing home pulls out all the stops for one woman's very special birthday.

"I can remember many years ago, when she was around in her forties, she says, ‘Don, I'm not going to live long.' And I say, ‘Mom, I will be at your 100th birthday party'" recalls Donald Koy, Martha Koy's son.

Friday was a special day for Martha and her family. She turned 100. But Martha's age isn't what brought her friends and caretakers at the Mount View Care Center together: it was Martha herself.

"She's just always been full of life and spunk, and pizazz, and always has to dress nice, and always has to have her coffee right away in the morning," says Erika Degroot, one of Martha's caretakers.

Martha may be queen for the day. But Erika Degroot and other caretakers say she reigns supreme everyday.

"She's always making sure we're okay. I mean, this woman's 100 years old and has totally earned the right for us to just care for her and she still cares for us, and pats us on the arm, and pats us on the back, and are you okay, and why don't you sit down and have coffee with me, or you're working too hard," says Erika.

Donald Koy told the staff he wanted to throw his mother a birthday party. The staff jumped right in to help plan. This made the celebration extra special.

"Many residents, you know, I'm sure they don't like to be in a nursing home. My mother loves it," Koy says.

Martha and her partygoers released 100 balloons in honor of Martha's twin sister, Monica, who was also a resident at Mount View Care Center. She died 3 years ago.

"We wanted Martha to have a way to honor her twin. So we thought, 'Why don't we do a balloon release and let Martha release a couple of balloons for her sister? And then we're like, 'You know what? She's 100. Let's get a hundred balloons and let everybody put balloons out' because we all knew Monica as well, and the whole family's here," Degroot adds.

One hundred balloons for one hundred years. The secret to making every one of those years count is simple.

"Just go along [with it]," says Martha.

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MERRILL - This weekend Northcentral Technical College hosted its fourth annual Fire and EMS University for firefighters across Wisconsin.

It provides training on firefighting and EMS techniques at the Public Safety Center of Excellence in Merrill.

In a simulation training exercise, firefighters have their hoods covering their face so they couldn't see anything when they entered a basement. They had to feel a fire hose and use teamwork to get around and save a dummy.

Firefighters from all over Wisconsin can come to the all-day event. They came to refresh their skills, teach and learn new techniques.

"We put out some classes that are very interesting and not run every day and if it applies to their department they'll send people," said Dean of the Public Safety Division of Northcentral Technical College Doug Jennings.

The school keeps adding other training tools as well. Just this year they added more training features, such as a simulator that allows law enforcement to practice driving trucks, squad cars and EMS vehicles.

On Saturday the students also trained with the aerial ladder.

"We are the only fire department in Lincoln County with an aerial ladder," said Merrill Fire Chief Dave Savone. "And so most of our firefighters have to operate our aerial ladder. And so we felt this truck operation aerial ladder operations is a great class for them to come and see."

UST Fire Apparatus brought a new aerial ladder truck for the students to practice with, and teachers from southern Wisconsin and St. Louis, Mo., also came to help coach.

Firefighters say they want to constantly re-educate themselves.

"It's great to get the extra practice," said Dean Johnson from the Town of Wausau Fire Department.

Northcentral Technical College also offers semester schedule curricula for law enforcement and fire science. 

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MERRILL - Merrill residents might have heard a lot of music in town today.

Merrill High School hosted the Merrill Marching Invitational. Three high school marching bands took over the football field at Merrill High School Sunday.

Antigo, D.C. Everest, and Merrill high schools all showcased their musical creativity.

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MILWAUKEE - A published report says unauthorized improvements have been made to a footpath on state land that a donor to Gov. Scott Walker has been trying to buy.

A spokesman for business executive Elizabeth Uihlein acknowledged that workers at her adjoining property may have cleaned up the trail slightly.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1Z18WU8 ) reports those who have seen the trail say the improvements are significant.

Uihlein is seeking to buy 1.75 acres along Rest Lake, where the footpath is located. But a tentative deal with the Department of Natural Resources was put on hold after critics raised questions.

A DNR spokesman says the agency inspected the site on Thursday and found an "established trail." He declined to say whether the department had talked to Uihlein or her representatives.

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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

Volunteers at Pointe Basse recreated a historical camp that portrayed the lives of people from the 1700s and early 1800s.

Volunteers from all across the U.S. had a piece of history to share.

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RHINELANDER - Harvest Hoedown started Saturday at noon at the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander.

The event featured a hay maze, horse-drawn carriage rides, food, and live music all afternoon.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

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VILAS COUNTY - In July, Karen Wessel gave her life to save a boy from drowning in Vilas County's Star Lake.  Now she is being recognized for her heroism.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announced Wessel as one of 22 recipients of the Carnegie medal.  It's presented to people who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while trying to save the life of another.

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