RHINELANDER - If Tom Mckenzie had to pick his favorite place in the world, it just might be the sky.
"When I was younger, my grandpa took me up in a Cessna just like this and from then on, even though I was a young age, I just felt that I could do it for the rest of my life," said Mckenzie.
The "rest of his life" begins this fall.
He'll be an aviation student at the University of North Dakota.
But first, he wanted to get his pilot's license.
"He called up out of the blue; he's had an interest in this," said flight instructor Jeff Melau.
Mckenzie had his second lesson at Rhinelander Flying Service.
But before he hit the clouds, there's groundwork to do.
"Usually we start out with a little paperwork, we check the weather, make sure it looks fine to fly and then we go over to the pre-flight extension," said Mckenzie.
Mckenzie soared through the pre-flight check list, and finally, he was in the place he's always wanted to be.
"It's amazing. I'm just so happy when I'm up there and it's just such a great feeling. It's so hard to describe because it's just something that I've always wanted, I love," said Mckenzie.
This flight includes a little help from instructor Jeff.
"This guy is really into flying. I mean obviously he's going to go to school for it but he's just enthused. I think if he had his choice, we'd go right back up in the air right now," said Melau.
Over 14 years, Jeff has taught more than 100 students to fly.
"And I know when I sit in the airplane for a couple of hours and I don't do anything other than TALK, I know that they're at a proficient level and I know that I can solo them, in the airplane and feel confident that they're gonna be okay," said Melau.
Mckenzie still has a ways to go before he's flying solo.
But until then- he's content with just being in his favorite place.
"It's endless. And you can basically go wherever you want and do whatever you want. Just the possibilities," said Mckenzie.
And if you take a glance at the sky—you just might see him.
PARK FALLS - People in Price County should keep an eye out for fake $20 bills.
The Park Falls Police Department is looking into several cases of a customer using the counterfeit money at various businesses. The bills all have the same serial number and stand out when you use a detection marker on them.
Police Chief Scott Straetz says the bills look very similar to the real thing, but you can tell the difference if you hold them.
SUGAR CAMP - A major fire destroyed a machinery repair shop in Sugar Camp on Wednesday morning, sending clouds of black smoke over the Northwoods.
The shop, next to a home on County Highway D west of Sugar Camp, caught fire around 10 a.m.
"There was a machinery malfunction that [the owner said] he was dealing with, and there could also be a heating issue," said Sugar Camp Fire Chief Jason Goeldner. "We got an area to look, but we haven't gotten in there yet to actually try to do a thorough investigation yet."
RHINELANDER - Wednesday morning multiple fire agencies responded to a fire in Sugar Camp. That response was made much easier with MABAS. MABAS stands for Mutual Aid Box Alarm System. Agencies use MABAS to call other departments from the area to help with emergencies like fires or mass casualties.
Wednesday night, fire departments from across Oneida County met at Nicolet College for an exercise using MABAS. The exercise gave first responders the experience of responding to a large incident in a learning environment.
The exercise simulated a large emergency response to a structure fire in downtown Rhinelander. Depending on the level of the MABAS alert, different agencies send different resources to help.
"What we do is we preplan who is going to respond. We do that by using an 80/20 rule so that all departments will only send 20% or their resources and leave the other 80% in place," said Rhinelander Fire Department Lieutenant Michael Wesle.
MABAS Division 114 is made up of 21 fire departments from across Oneida County and is one of 60 Divisions in the state of Wisconsin. Agencies in Oneida County have started using MABAS more often over the past few years.
THREE LAKES - Getting diagnosed with a rare disease can be a scary, isolating feeling. A Three Lakes girl and her mother don't view it that way, they want to show the disease doesn't define 11- year- old Ada. "It came out of the blue you have a child and don't know you're going to encounter that," said Ada's mother Jennifer West. Jennifer knew something was different when her two year old daughter was shrinking in size and had bowed legs.
"[It was] a turning point in my life as a mom," said Jennifer. It took nearly 12 specialists to diagnose Ada with XL- Hypophosphatemia, a form of rickets. The genetic disorder that affects one in 20,000 people. "It's kind of like finding a needle in the haystack and I found out I'm the needle," said Ada. Ada's body can't properly handle phosphorus, making her bones soft and her figure smaller. That's led to dozens of doctor's appointments and a surgery last week.
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