WOODRUFF - Nobody knows exactly when or by whom a prestigious anglers club was founded here in the Northwoods. But you can bet you know someone in it.
"Probably, I'm going to guess seven or eight times," says Kurt Justice.
You could call the fishing guide a platinum member of an exclusive Northwoods angler's club. But a trophy Musky won't get you a membership. To join this club you have to catch.... yourself, or other people.
"Oh, we at least see three or four a day," says Carrie Kehoe, a Howard Young emergency room Nurse.
Ministry Howard Young Medical Center and Eagle River Memorial Hospital treated so many patients with fish hooks stuck in them, they started the People Catcher's Club.
"So this is our People Catchers Club card that everybody gets. They get a name, and their number and what year it occurred. And here is the Ministry Healthcare bobber," says Kehoe.
Last season alone 105 people joined the club. Adults are members... kids are members... dogs are even members. Treating all those members can take some unorthodox methods.
"A lot of times we'll use a wire cutter to actually cut the hook away from the lure. And then we've got good ole' vice grips," says Dr. Roderick Brodhead, Ministry EMS Medical Director.
While these injuries can be serious, most of them aren't. And the stories behind them are the stuff that legends are made of.
"It was a husband and wife team and they were up here just visiting. She caught the hook right in the center of his head. And as they were trying to get it out she sat on one and got it hooked onto her buttocks," says Kehoe.
"Augie being a puppy was very curious and came over to see what I was doing as I was trying to pick the hooks out. He stuck his nose down, yanked back and got one of the hooks right through his nose. As he did so one of the hooks went right through my thumb. So he started bawling, pulling me around the house," says Justice.
Justice hears all kinds of stories at his sport shop. It's common for people to renew their membership; some even manage to join twice in one day! Justice wasn't the only person to tell this story.
"We always ask people if they want to hang their lure on the wall of fame or if they want to take the lure. In this case the gentleman said it was his favorite lure and he was taking it along. He walked out of the ER and threw the lure on the seat of his truck and then climbed in, and came back five minutes later with it in his buttock," says Dr. Brodhead.
The People Catchers Club helps make people, especially kids, a lot happier leaving the ER than they were coming in.
"They're basically scared. And so we try to make it a little better experience for them so that they won't be scared the next time it happens," says Dr. Brodhead.
And since the Northwoods is a fisherman's playground, the odds are good there will be a next time.
RHINELANDER - Your water and sewer bill could soon be on the rise if you live in Rhinelander.
Unlike other Northern Wisconsin cities, the water utility rates haven't changed since 2008.
The public works director says the cold winter only played a small role in the proposed increase.
Rising expenses and upgrades are the main reasons they hope to soon raise utility costs.
"Sewer rates are going up 13 percent in the city largely due to the expenses the utility has experienced because of the upgrades that have taken place and our best efforts to deliver the utility at a low expense," said Public Works Director Tim Kingman.
MADISON - A Wisconsin Rapids woman will spend three years on probation for threatening to kill a federal administrative law judge.
51-year-old Norma Prince was sentenced Thursday. Prince pleaded guilty in December.
Prosecutors say the incident happened Jan. 31, 2013, when Prince appeared at a Social Security disability benefits hearing in Wausau.
Administrative Law Judge Thomas Sanzi was presiding over the hearing by teleconference from Madison. Prosecutors say Prince became upset and threatened to shoot Sanzi and cut off his head. The hearing was halted and Prince was escorted from the courtroom.
Prince's husband told a federal agent that his wife had bought two .22-caliber rifles about a month before the disability hearing.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman said Prince's mental health issues can be controlled through medication and supervision.
ROTHSCHILD - Wisconsin farms play a key role in our economy, but today's farm owners aren't getting any younger.
One apprentice program hopes to change that.
The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program is building and preparing the next generation of farmers. It gives young farmers hands-on training and a path to a career in dairy farming.
"There's a lot of farms that are going to be transitioned and transferred in the next decade or so, and what we really need is somebody to be able to take these farms over," says program director Joe Tomandl. "We don't have that training program in place, and that's what the dairy grazing apprenticeship is about."
A recent government census of American agriculture found the average age of a farmer is 58 years old. Leaders believe the apprentice program has already seen success with new farmers over the past few years.
"We have a number of new producers just in the last four years in Marathon and Lincoln counties now running their own dairy farms using managed grazing techniques," says Paul Daigle of the Marathon County Conservation, Planning, & Zoning Department. "It's still a struggle no matter what, but it offers a profitable way to get into farming today."
Cattle farmers met at the 20th Annual Winter Grazing Conference today in Rothschild.
ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Senate and House Representatives hope a wildfire disaster bill will help the U.S. Forest Service battle forest fires and still have funding to do its job.
The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2013, SB 1875, would treat extreme forest fires like a natural disaster. That would trigger access to separate pool of funding that would help some lawmakers believe would substantially help the Forest Service.
President Obama included the reforms in his proposed 2015 budget released earlier this week. The reforms would change how the government pays to fight wildfires.
Since 2002, The Forest Service has spent nearly $3 billions dollars of its funding to fight forest fires.
According to the department, Congress paid back the majority of that money, but that still delayed services from the department because payments were done after the fact.
That meant the Forest Service had to pull money away from programs like timber management and fire prevention programs to pay for fire suppression.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin-(D) Wisc. believes that is hurting the department and ultimately businesses and workers that rely on timber harvests in the national forests.
"Because we have had so much severe wildfires, it has left the rest of the forest service with insufficient resources to do their job," Baldwin said.
The Forest Service says funding is one of their key obstacles to increasing timber harvests.
The Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest(CNNF) stretches across parts of Northern Wisconsin. The forest's land management plan allows more than 130 million board feet of timber to be harvested every year, but only half of that allowable level has been harvested each of the past few years.
Baldwin believes the proposal would give the department more resources to improve harvest and land management.
"That will in my mind, in my mind if we are successful in seeing this through," Baldwin said. "We'll safeguard the funding that is really supposed to be used for other purposes to maintain healthy forests in the United States."
That will allow the Forest Service to use resources for the purpose they were intended for.
Baldwin hopes the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act gives leaders at the CNNF the resources to harvest levels closer to the allowable levels.
"The idea here is to that when we have an extreme wildfire event that they will be treated as the natural disasters that they are," Baldwin said. "And that a separate stream of funding will be used."
According to a American Forest Foundation report, the proposal would creates a budget cap adjustment for a 30% portion of wildfire disaster funding for USFS and DOI. They compare the structure to what the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses for other natural disaster response.
Most of the senators and representatives that are sponsoring the legislation come from states impacted by wildfires and the timber industry.
"We'll be leading this effort and we're just hopeful that we'll be able to see some progress," Baldwin said.
The proposal is in committee in both the House and Senate. Baldwin says she’s confident they’ll see progress with it this year. Rep. Reid Ribble-(R) Wisc. is a co-sponsor of the House version of the bill.
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