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Local band to perform at Hodag Country FestSubmitted: 07/09/2013
Story By Lauren Stephenson


RHINELANDER - Big-name country bands travel to Rhinelander from far away for Hodag Country Fest.

But one local band doesn't have to travel far at all for their Hodag debut.

Take a little punk, some bluegrass, and a whole lot of country and you get the Ditchrunners.

"We like to call it 'Honkey-tonk Guttergrass.' But people say it's kind of punk-countryish, whatever it is. It's our own original thing. We're not trying to be like anybody else we're just doing what we do," says Douglas Bredlau, The Ditchrunners' lead singer.

The Stevens Point band came in first place at one of several Hodag Pick-Off competitions in Wisconsin.

Now they get to play on the main stage of Hodag Country Fest.

"It's a real trip because I know what a big deal it is. I know what a huge event it is in Rhinelander. And I'm going to have a bunch of friends that are going to be there that have been going to Hodag for years, and I'm just really excited to get the chance to play for the hometown crowd," adds Bob Weigandt, The Ditchrunners' mandolin player.

Weigandt grew up in Rhinelander.

Ditchrunner's founder Douglas "Buckshot" Bredlau grew up in Park Falls.

Their debut at Hodag Country Fest will also be a competition.

Bands that won regional Hodag Pick-Offs will compete for the title of Wisconsin State Country Band Champion.

"We are rooted in the tradition of country music and we're kind of trying to bring that back a little bit in the world of pop country I guess," says Bredlau.

When The Ditchrunners perform at Hodag Fest on Friday they'll also pre-release their new full-length album.

"Squirrel Lake up by Minocqua, we spent three days out on an island just recording all day, every day for three straight days," says Alex Dalnodar, The Ditchrunners' guitarist.

It's the band's first album with a record label.

You'll be able to buy it July 16th, the same day they perform at the Rhinelander Ice Arena with Buckcherry.

"It's actually a great family and I love these guys more than anybody. It's been a real good time and it's going to get a lot better. I know that," Bredlau says.

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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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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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- 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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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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VILAS COUNTY - Vilas County will need to fill a vacancy soon at the district attorney's office.

The current DA, Al Moustakis, has filed paperwork showing that he won't run for re-election.

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RHINELANDER - Large machinery moved north and parking spots disappeared on Brown Street in Rhinelander this week.  The city's $9.8 million downtown reconstruction project continued its push, closing down Brown Street from Davenport to Rives Monday.

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

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