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Preventing drownings in the NorthwoodsSubmitted: 07/17/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray


Photos By Shardaa Gray

WOODRUFF - When you get a smoldering hot day like today, going to the lake sounds pretty great.

But if you don't know how to swim, that could be a problem.

"Practice and try hard when you're in the water." said Harland resident, Gab Burch.

That's advice from a nine year old who just learned how to swim.

"My grandma was trying to teach me how to swim today, a little bit," Burch said.

"Then she gave me a float sort of thing to help me swim and I was a little scared."

Statistics are scary too.

Drownings are the second leading cause of accidental death for children between one and 14 years old.

That's why YMCA swim instructor Karen Fiocchi wants parents to watch their children.

"A lot of our lakes do not have life guards. They're public beaches, but there's no lifeguards. So that means swim at your own risk," said Fiocchi.

"So it means even if you're a good swimmer, swim with a buddy. If you're a kid, make sure your parents are there. Parents make sure you're there and you know where your kids are all the time at the beach."

Kids are at the highest risk of drowning when they're between ages one and four.

That's why this mom wants her daughter close to the shore.

"I don't like them going past the buoys because they're there for a reason. So definitely stay in there," Milwaukee resident, Amber Vandenorth said.

"My daughter, I just kind of like her on the shore more because obviously it's really shallow and she's little, but with him, out to the bouy's."

This twelve year old is glad to have supervision around.

"Just make sure you always have an adult or an older person with you that is responsible enough to watch you when you're swimming," said West Bend resident, Braden Hay.

"And always keep close to another person just in case because you never know what's going to happen."

Good advice from a very intelligent twelve year old.


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LINCOLN COUNTY - In the Northwoods, plenty of families sell organic eggs from their small farms. But a new chicken farm near Gleason takes production to a different level. 

Andrew Headings takes care of 25,000 chickens and all of their eggs. With that comes a lot of record keeping.

"Their body weight every day, how much they ate, I can figure that out," said Headings.

Headings started the Headings Family Farm in August. He says he is looking to make the birds even happier this week.

"I'm going to be free range humane certified. I have a big fence out here that fences in about 16 acres. On a nice day, my chickens are going to be allowed to go out and be able to scratch around in this grass and Pasteur," said Headings.

All of his eggs go to Heading's parent farm in Illinois before being sold around the country.

"He's a specialty egg company. We're into organic, non-GMO, omega eggs, double omega, cage free, all of his barns are cage free," said Headings.

There's a good reason you don't see many chicken farms in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

"I didn't look around the country and say 'let's put a barn here because it's ideal', the more ideal would be down south because the cold makes it to where we have to heat so we can't ventilate as much," said Headings.

Even with the cold temperatures, Headings has an eco-friendly plan for heating.

"We have a heater, an 800,000btu heater sitting by the center and we'll have a 10-ton bin sitting there and I'll buy conventional corn, put it in the bin and the stove will burn the corn," said Headings.

That's not the only thing that's eco-friendly on the farm. Headings has tried cutting down on the smell, too.
"The amount of smell we put off in this neighborhood is very minimal. If you get 300 feet away from here, you probably can't smell this thing," said Headings.

You might not smell it, but you sure can appreciate all the hard work.

"Compared to just driving by and saying, 'there's a chicken barn', there's a lot that's involved," said Headings.

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FLORENCE - In Florence County, more people work in forestry-related jobs than in any other industry.

"It's unbelievable, the way I put it," said logger Jaden Streu. "There are a lot, a lot of jobs and a lot of people that are retiring."

Streu graduated from Florence High School this spring and immediately went to work for his family's business, CTL Timber Harvesting.

Streu was among the presenters at Wednesday's Log-A-Load educational day at Florence.

"I think the big thing is, this industry is changing, from some of the equipment [the students] saw that was working here today. It's highly technical equipment," Florence District Administrator Ben Niehaus said.

"My favorite station was the sawmill," said Florence fourth grader Hannah Holdaway. "I didn't know that they cut it with a machine. I thought they just cut it with a saw."

"I think they leave here with a whole different perspective of, 'Wow, this isn't just a chainsaw and something that looks like a bulldozer that picks wood up and decks it on a log truck. There's a lot more to it,'" Niehaus said.

People like Streu would like to leave a positive impression of the forestry industry on students.

"We hope that they leave [saying], 'This ain't bad. This is a good thing,'" he said.

Hopefully, as Streu sees it, some of these learners will someday become his coworkers in the forest.

"We need the younger generation to come in, like me, to take it over and keep it going," Streu said. "It's a family business and I can have kids, hopefully, and be able to show them and bring them up in it and keep it going generations after generations."

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For District Administrator Mike Richie, this is a way to stay proactive, helping both parents and students to avoid drug addiction.

"If there is a problem how we can prevent that problem, how can we get students to realize that this problem can only get worse as they get older and continue into the work force," said Richie.

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To Richie this is a collaborative effort. 

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