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NEWS STORIES

Oneida County Emergency Management pre-plans for a disaster Submitted: 09/29/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray


Photos By Shardaa Gray

RHINELANDER - Natural disasters don't happen often in the Northwoods.

But Oneida County Emergency Management needs to make sure their fire departments know what to do if it does.

Oneida County Airport wasn't just for planes this weekend.

Fire departments and more than 40 firefighters trained for a natural disaster Saturday morning.

They practice every other month, but nothing like this.

"This is the first time we actually incorporated MABAS, our Mutual Aid Box Alarm System into a water shuttle drill." said Oneida County Emergency Management director, Ken Kortenhof.

MABAS is a system that Wisconsin adopted in 2006.

"Basically what that does, we pre-plan them ahead of time and they don't have to worry about deciding at the time which units to call and where they're coming from," Kortenhof said.

"It's a good system and it works well with the fire service."

Five different stations set up on the airports runway.

First stop was checking in.

The second station was incident command post.

"Right now they're directing the different tanker trucks and different tender trucks where to go and how to shuttle water." said Kortenhof.

After that it's off to the lake to fill the tankers.

Each truck can hold about one thousand gallons of water.

Then they have to find a place to put the extra water.

"When we're at a fire or something, we have what's called drop tanks. The tenders come in and they fill those drop tanks up and then those drop tanks feed the engines. The engines spray on to the fire." Kortenhof said.

Firefighters say the training helps departments communicate better.

"We have a number of different departments that specifically don't work together," Kortenhof said.

"The MABAS system and exercises like this give them the ability to work together and to practice what they're doing. So in the event they have to in real life, it goes a lot smoother."

A smoother response could save lives during a disaster.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - You often see tomatoes growing in gardens across the Northwoods, but making sure tomato plants stay healthy is difficult here in Wisconsin because of tomato blight.

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MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.

Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.

Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.

"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."

On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.

Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.

The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.

"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."

Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer. 


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NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.

They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.

But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.

And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.

That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.

It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.

"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate. 

Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday. 

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All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.

That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.

"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."

If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.


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Police got a call around 2 p.m. about a two-car crash on County Road B north of State Highway 23 in Adams County.

A 65-year-old was driving and a 72-year-old was in the front passenger seat. Both those men died at the scene. They were both from Oxford, Wisconsin.

Driving the other car was a 24-year-old man from the Wisconsin Dells. He was taken to a hospital but is expected to survive.

Wisconsin State Patrol is still investigating. The names will not be released until the families are notified. 

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