Water rates may increaseSubmitted: 10/10/2013
Story By Ryan Michaels

MERRILL - Merrill residents wanted cleaner city water and they got it. But it will come at a price.

The city's water was full of manganese. A mineral naturally found in well water.

But too much of it in your water can make things dirty says City Administrator David Johnson.

"People would find their toilet bowls stained black. If you opened your tank on your toilet bowl everything in the tank would be black. If you touch it, it would be like a greasy black gritty black residue. The fix for this was actually at the request of the people of Merrill not liking this black residue in their water."

The city improved its water treatment plant to remove the unwanted mineral last summer. But it cost 2.2 million dollars.
To pay for it the city will ask for a water bill rate hike for residents. "It will be about a 10% increase in revenue for the water department, which will equate to about $0.08 per day for the average homeowner. So what we've done is something to make our customers happy. Unfortunately, anything you do that changes your system requires a cost increase and that's what we are doing now."

A hearing on the rate hike is scheduled in Merrill's City Hall next Tuesday at 10am.

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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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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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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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CRANDON - Kids learn math and English in school, but this evening, the Crandon school district taught their students how to stay drug free. All year long, the school has been promoting values such as respect and forgiveness and tonight was no different.

The Red Ribbon Walk started at the courthouse and then went to Crandon High School. Along the way, walkers saw signs with facts about living a drug free life. No matter how young the students were, they still heard the message loud and clear.

"It's really good for the youth because they can see not to do drugs. To have this event, it should be about a fun experience and it's really good for kids," said 5th grader Bryce Marshall.

Even with the cold temps and rainy weather, there was still a great turnout. After the walk, there was a presentation by motivational speaker Mike McGowan to really push the message of staying drug free.

"I think it's important that we bring forward all the reasons why drugs are bad for kids. They know drugs are bad but how does it affect their lives?" said Crandon parent and teacher Agnes Keller.

The Red Ribbon walk was just one of many events that the school will have over the year to show students how to live out good, positive values.

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MERRILL - A former Merrill High School choir teacher will go to jail after a judge found him guilty of sexual assault last month. 

26-year-old Chase Tonar will spend three years on probation and 15 years on a sex offender registry. As a part of that probation, Tonar will serve four months in jail.

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

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MADISON - A University of Wisconsin student charged with sexually assaulting and choking a woman is expected to face additional charges after investigators say they were contacted by dozens of other women.

Police say officers searching Alec Cook's Madison apartment found a black book with names of women he had met and what he wanted to do with them, including his sexual desires.

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