Tuning into a different kind of retirementSubmitted: 08/02/2013
Story By Lex Gray

RHINELANDER - From the outside, Jeff Santy's house looks like a typical retiree's dream: a view of the lake, and peace and quiet.

But Santy's retirement dream is a little different.

"You don't have to be a rock star to feel like one," Santy says.

Santy helps people feel and act like rock stars. He started teaching music and bringing bands together after he retired from teaching English at Rhinelander High School in 2006.

"Sometimes the kids come to me and say, ‘Here's four or five of my friends, we want to be in a band, we've got a name for the band, we've got matching jackets,' and I'll say ‘What do you play?' and they'll say ‘Oh no, no, that's up to you.'"

It's not always kids living the rock star dream.

"I've had a gal who was retired just a few years ago from teaching, and she said I've always wanted to be a drummer," Santy says. "She was 57 years of age and when she started, she said ‘I should have started this 50 years ago.'"

Carly Reich started playing guitar and keyboard when she was 15 years old.

"My brother had put ads up all over town looking for band members and he got no responses," Reich says.

Two years ago, Reich and her brother found Santy's Tunesmith Academy. Santy helped them bring their band, Violet Skies, together.

"I tried taking private lessons, I tried teaching myself, and I tried playing as a group lesson," Reich says."I think the main thing for me was, there's an obligation to the other people in your band to keep getting better and to keep up with what you've learned. So that makes me a lot less likely to slack off."

Tunesmith Academy is fun for the bands and fun for Jeff, but how does it fit in with the quiet Lake George community?

"We got a phone call once when we were pumping the music, and I thought ‘Uh-oh, there's the sheriff's department calling me and saying you gotta shut this down,'" Santy says. "And yet it was someone across the lake calling with a request. They wanted to hear a certain song."

A certain song that brings you back to a time when anything was possible.

"I think kids dream of being sports stars or rock stars," he says. "I can't help them with the sports star end of it, but I can help them with the music end of it."

Violet Skies and other Tunesmith Academy bands will play this weekend at the Oneida County Fair.

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WOOD COUNTY - We now know the names of the people involved in a Wood County Crash that killed two people Tuesday afternoon.

The Wood County Sheriff's Department says the cars crashed head-on along Highway 80 in the Town of Dexter around 3:30.

71-year-old Barbara Baldwin of New Lisbon was driving one of the cars, and died in the crash.

Her passenger, 74 year old Louise Hemenway of New Lisbon, also died.

Another passenger in the car, 72-year-old Dona Sharp, was hurt....as was the driver of the second car, 30-year-old Greg Kopelke of Wisconsin Rapids.

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TOMAH - The Tomah VA Medical Center will end a lease agreement for a shelter for homeless veterans.

The Veterans Assistance Foundation has operated the shelter for nearly 20 years.

Tomah VA spokesman Matthew Gowan says there have been more than 30 incidents involving shelter residents recently.

They include a suicide attempt, a drug overdose and criminal violations.

The center has given the foundation notice that it will end the lease in January.

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THREE LAKES - Baseball fans in Three Lakes watched the Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the World Series on Tuesday night.

A few of those fans might live on Cy Williams Road, or down the street from Cy Williams Park. As they watched, they may have drawn the connection between that Northwoods man, Cy Williams, and the game they were watching on the field.

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PRICE COUNTY - One of the men who led police from several counties on an hours-long manhunt near Park Falls in June will soon return home to Florida.

Daniel Schoonover, 23, appeared in Price County Court on Wednesday. He pled no contest to all three charges of escaping a criminal arrest, resisting an officer, and possessing LSD.

Schoonover received a sentence of deferred judgment for the escaping charge and a total for 150 days in jail for the other two charges. He also has six months to pay back more than $900 in court fees.

Back in June, Schoonover and two other men were driving to a music festival in Highbridge when they were pulled over. Police found LSD in the car and tried to arrest Schoonover and the other man, but they took off into the woods. Police from Price, Rusk, Taylor, and Saywer counties as well as the DNR and the U.S. Forest Service all helped in the search. Schoonover was eventually spotted on a county road around 8 o'clock that evening.

He's been in the Price County Jail ever since. That's 144 days, and he will get credit for the time served.

According to the criminal complaint, Schoonover said he ran away because he was afraid of getting arrested in another state. Schoonover said he didn't know about the drugs in the car, and that he only drove with the other men because he knew they were headed to the music festival and needed a ride. Before jail, he worked as a cook in Florida.

His attorney said Schoonover does not have a criminal record anywhere else.

The other two men involved, Adrian Rodriguez and Kevin Sweeney, will return to Price County Court in November and December, respectively. 

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MERRILL - A former Merrill choir teacher will be sentenced today for sexual assault.

Last month, 26 year old Chase Tonar plead no contest to sexual assault of a student by school staff in Lincoln County Court.

Tonar is accused of having sex with a student both while he was a teacher at Merrill High School and after he resigned last May.

Police arrested Tonar in July.

The Lincoln County District Attorney says he will ask for jail time, as well as sex offender reporting and counseling.

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EAGLE RIVER - The Northwoods didn't get a lot of bitter cold or snow early last winter.  That forced Vilas County to keep its snowmobile trails closed much later than it hoped.

But the county set its target opening date for this year, with hopes we see a very different winter.

The county set a projected date to open trails of December 12.  That allows deer hunters to get through their season without worrying about snowmobiles in the woods.

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EAGLE RIVER - A driver lost control of her car and crashed into the woods southwest of Eagle River late Wednesday afternoon.

It happened on County Highway D near its intersection with County Highway H. The driver was the only person in the car. She wasn't injured.

An Oneida County Sheriff's Deputy on scene couldn't yet say why she lost control of the car.

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