WAUSAU - When you hear about a serious crime in Marathon County, chances are, it's linked to drug use.
Community leaders feel crime rates will go down if drug abuse goes down.
That's why law enforcement and other groups launched the "Pushback Against Drug Abuse" campaign.
Today marked phase two of that campaign focusing on community involvement.
"We are not a population that ignores our problems. We take on the fights that matter, and this fight is worth taking on," said Wausau City Council Chairperson Lisa Rasmussen.
For Rasmussen, the fight against drug abuse is on.
"To create the energy the community needs to be a little bit angry about you know, all of these things that it sees and the activity in the neighborhoods," said Rasmussen.
Marathon County's "Pushback Against Drug Abuse" campaign now wants community involvement.
"It impacts our quality of life, it impacts the environment in our community and in our schools and it's important enough to us to take back the community and communicate the message out there that this community won't stand for it no more," said Rasmussen.
Sue Nowak is a local drug prevention specialist.
She believes drug abuse leads to larger problems.
Nowak knows the problem won't get smaller until the fight against it gets bigger.
"There are so many different aspects to addiction and what's going on in the community. So I think a team effort is the best way to approach it," said Nowak.
Part of that team is the Wausau Police Department.
They want community members to keep their eyes out for anything suspicious.
"So what do you do when you see this type of drug activity? We always ask you to call law enforcement so that we can go and investigate what is going on," said Captain Ben Bliven.
Bottom line, communication is key in the fight against drug abuse.
People hoping to keep a violent child sex offender from moving into their Forest County community needed to go to Shawano County to make their case today. Newswatch 12's Dakota Sherek is there and will bring you updates on what happens at the hearing and the judge's ruling which we expect tonight.
We talk to two local resource officers about how their jobs have changed over the years. Some of that change has happened because of school violence across the country and right here in the Northwoods.
And we talk to the executive director of the Birkebeiner race in Hayward about the enthusiasm people in the area have with the big event coming up this weekend.
We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.
HAYWARD - Trail conditions for this year's American Birkebeiner race will be just about perfect.
Executive Director Ben Popp said there's about a six inch base, three inches of snow on top, and more snow on the way in the Hayward area.
"The energy right now is just unreal. You can feel it here in Hayward and Cable and certainly around the world. Now with a gold medal, Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall, brings more excitement to not only this event, but the sport. So it's a really great time to be a cross country skier," said Popp.
MERRILL - Trinity Lutheran School in Merrill doesn't have room for any more kindergarten students next year.
Its class is already full, partly because some families can send their kids to Trinity for free.
For the third straight year, Trinity will participate in Wisconsin's private school choice program.
This year, the state pays tuition for about 30 of Trinity's 120 total students.
"Parents like the Christian base, obviously. That's the main reason people send [their kids] here," said School Administrator Kathy Yahr. "They're keeping them here more now because of the opportunities that we offer."
NORTHWOODS - Lakes and nature bring people from all over the country to the Northwoods during the summer. Those same attractions get some people to stay here. Home sales and home prices in the Northwoods went up in 2017.
The Wisconsin Realtors Association reports about 1,300 more homes sold last year than in 2016 in Wisconsin. A local broker saw the increase firsthand.
"The markets that are going crazy right now are premium homes. The Minocqua chain is red hot, the Eagle River chain is pretty hot the Three Lakes chain is pretty hot and there are some chains of lakes that are less hot," said Coldwell Banker broker Jim Mulleady.
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