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.
RHINELANDER - The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission will get its long-awaited federal funding installment by October 4.
The timing means no Northwoods Transit Connections drivers will have to voluntarily furlough their pay, but the requirement of 24-hour advance notice for rides will stay in place.
Transit Commission Chair Erv Teichmiller learned the news over the weekend.
The commission is waiting on an expected payment of $300,000 from the federal government. In 2016, that money came in early September. As of last Friday, the commission wasn't expecting the payment until as late as November.
MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker has selected a former legislator to run the state Department of Natural Resources.
Walker's office announced Monday that he has chosen former Republican state Rep. Dan Meyer to serve as DNR secretary. He replaces Cathy Stepp, who resigned in August to take a position in President Donald Trump's administration.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander factory that makes smoke flavoring caught fire early Monday morning. Â Shortly before 6:00 a.m.,Â Rhinelander, Crescent and Newbold Fire Departments responded to a fire at Red Arrow Products on Rhinelander's west side.
An employee says there were about eight workers inside at the time.
No one was injured.
"Flames were coming out of a conveyor area as high as the roof. We made an interior attack and knocked that flame down. Came in from the other side of the partition wall, then made another interior attack and knocked that down," says Chief Terry Williams.
As of 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, firefighters were still working to make sure the flames were out.
HARSHAW - Oneida County sheriff's deputies found three runaway sisters, ages 14, 14, and 12, in the woods in Harshaw just after 1 p.m. on Monday.
The sisters had been reported missing by their parents Monday morning. The parents had gone to wake the girls up for school, but instead found a note saying they had gone on an "adventure."
The missing girls triggered a search from the Oneida County Sheriff's Office Special Response Unit, Newbold Fire Department Search and Rescue, Minocqua Fire Department, Lake Tomahawk Fire Department, and Little Rice Fire Department.
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