TOMAHAWK - Friends normally get together and catch up during the holidays.
But three friends in Tomahawk wanted to do more.
They took on the challenge of making Christmas extra special for those in need.
"I like doing things for people because there's a lot of people that don't have anything. Some of us have more than other people. And I think it's a nice thing." said Tomahawk resident, Christine Mikles.
Tomahawk community members hope to make life a little easier for people struggling during the holiday season.
"I think it's a wonderful thing that this town does for the food pantry because there's so many people without anything," Mikles said.
"If we can help somebody, that's a wonderful thing. It's the perfect season to do it."
Patty Tholl, Roxanne Consolver and Sharon Novitski are the women who represent the Three Amigas.
They came up with an idea three years ago to help out the Tomahawk Food Pantry after Thanksgiving.
"We got together and we thought, let's have a benefit. Patty here owns the Rodeo, so we have a place," said one of the Three Amigas, Roxanne Consolver.
"All the trees are decorated on the deck so what an awesome background and backdrop. Then the three of us just decided, well, let's have a raffle. Let's see if we can get a few donations."
They got more than a few donations.
They raised $1,600 in cash, food and toys for food pantry participants last year.
"I know that they are very very busy at the food pantry this time of the year. With lay-offs and now the new insurance rules and that type of thing, people are finding a little bit more hardship this year than in previous years," Consolver said.
"So we're hoping that whatever we do here will lessen that hardship and everyone can have a really Merry Christmas."
And to be sure people have a Merry Christmas; they're giving each family a tree.
That's thanks to the North Country Riders and community members.
"What they do basically is they donate all the trees. We print up a coupon. Everybody pretty much adopts a tree. Then the coupons are delivered to the food pantry," Tomahawk Food Pantry full-time volunteer, Amber Anderson said.
"Throughout this month families that need at tree will be given a coupon. They can come here and pick any of the trees they want." Anderson said.
"We all need help. There isn't one amongst us that doesn't need help. We live in a very unique community in that respect. People here like to help each other." said Anderson.
Saturday wasn't the only time to give back.
You can drop off toys or donations at the Rodeo Saloon in Tomahawk anytime this month.
WOODRUFF - You don't see very good odds of catching someone who poached a deer unless someone saw or heard it happen. Luckily for law enforcement, that's what happened in Woodruff and Minocqua last week.
People living near Theis Road off Highway J and near Gopher Lane along Highway 70 heard gunshots late Wednesday night, September 21. Minocqua police found two 16-year-old boys who shot and killed two bucks.
DNR Warden Supervisor Dave Walz says the teens were shooting within 100 yards of homes.
"There's a serious safety aspect when these people are out shooting deer at night, they may not know what's in the background," Walz said. "Even if they do know what's in the background, it's still not a safe situation."
ST. GERMAIN - 300 Vilas County sixth-graders joined together against drugs and alcohol in St. Germain Thursday. The kids got to hang out with peers they will be going to high school with in a couple of years.
Though it all looked like fun and games, each exercise opened the floor to more serious topics like cyber-bullying, drug use, and underage drinking.
"There are little things that we are planting seeds and as those seeds are planted, later on others can help it grow as well," said UW Extension Youth Agent Nancy Ann Miller.
Throughout the day, the middle schoolers rotated through hands-on positive activities. Kids were even able to talk to Nicolet College about future career plans.
At one station, the leaders showed off Native American traditions with drumming and dancing to get the middle schoolers to open up.
"They just have a riot. You ask them what's the best thing and they say everything!" said Miller.
This is the twelfth year the positivity conference joined at St. Germain Park.
Conference coordinators say the end goal is to leave the kids with a lifelong memory of the Northwoods.
ONEIDA COUNTY - No matter the weather, a glass of wine can be enjoyed year round. Even in the bitter cold, there are wineries in Oneida County that still offer tastings and wine tours.
"When people think of a winery, they do think of grape wines. They're kind of surprised, pleasantly surprised when they come to our winery and see fruit wines," said Terri Schenck from Three Lakes Winery.
The Oneida County wineries are a little bit different than what you'd see in Napa Valley.
"It is a farm so we are working on different crops, black currants, apples and an experimental vineyard," said Linda Welbes from Brigadoon Winery in Tripoli.
With the unique flavors of wines, Three Lakes Winery and Brigadoon Winery often see a lot of visitors from out of town.
"They usually say, 'I didn't know how much I needed this.' They relax, they unwind whether it's summer time or fall, just to sit outdoors when it's beautiful, it's peaceful, it's quiet," said Welbes.
Three Lakes Winery has a lot of history behind their building.
"The actual winery itself is an old Chicago Northwestern Train Depot that was built in 1880. There was a tornado or wind storm that happened in 1924 that destroyed the building," said Schenck.
The building was rebuilt shortly after. Every fall the winery hosts cranberry marsh tours.
"There are several bogs in the area and it's interesting for people to be able to go and see a bog and see how the cranberries are harvested and what goes into making cranberry wine," said Schenck.
With winter right around the corner, the crops won't be producing much.
"The crops, they are what they are. It's farming so there's not much you have to do and you just hope for good weather. Lots of snow cover, that helps," said Welbes.
The Three Eagle Trail runs right into the parking lot of Three Lakes Winery. That brings in a lot of traffic year-round.
"In the winter time it turns into the snowmobile trail. We will get a lot of snowmobile traffic in the winter time and a lot of foot traffic, hiking, biking people in the summer time," said Schenck.
RHINELANDER - Lifting brand new bikes out of the basement to see the light of day for the first time, Gene Welhoefer couldn't wait to put them to use.
"We'd love to wear the tires out in year one," Welhoefer said.
The Three Lakes Principal loaded bike after bike -- 29 on this trip -- into a trailer parked outside of Mel's Trading Post in Rhinelander Thursday afternoon. The school district purchased 63 bikes to promote healthy habits in Three Lakes students.
"Get outside, breathe some fresh air, soak in some sunshine, take a little ride," Welhoefer said.
MERRILL - The debate in Merrill over what's junk and what's historic treasure may not end soon.
It appears Merrill City leaders won't punish two of its workers for taking items from a now demolished building on the Lincoln County Fair Grounds.
After about a month-long investigation, Mayor Bill Bialecki sent out a statement Thursday morning on behalf of the common council with a decision.
It said, "The actions of City Administrator Dave Johnson and Fire Chief Dave Savone, although not in violation of city Ordinances or policies, were in poor judgment. They have been advised to follow City ordinances and policies to avoid improper conduct or the appearance of such conduct, as it reflects poorly on City Government."
Back in July, Savone got the okay from Johnson to help a friend take some shutters and tables from the
Schultz building on the grounds before it was demolished.
But some people considered those items historic and expressed their concern on social media.
The Merrill City Common Council then hired an outside firm to investigate.
Now that that's done, Johnson still feels the same way he always did.
"I've stated from the beginning that there were no laws, ordinances or policies that were violated, and that is what the investigation showed," Johnson said. "So, I mean, how can I feel other than vindicated?"
Johnson and Savone did return the items.
Savone did not want to talk on camera but told Newswatch 12 he did not violate any ordinances.
Opponents of this decision believe the city leaders violated state open meetings laws.
According to documents obtained by Newswatch 12, those opponents filed a complaint Thursday afternoon with the Lincoln County District Attorney.
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