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Northwoods Spotlight - Tuscobia Winter Ultra Jan 1Submitted: 01/01/2014
Story By Joe Dufek


SAWYER COUNTY, PRICE COUNTY - Many marathons and bike races take place in the summer. But imagine competing in an ultra-marathon in the snow. Last weekend, folks in Sawyer and Price Counties were doing just that.

In just it's fifth year, the Tuscobia Winter Ultra is growing into quite a wintertime event. Racers have the choice of running, skiing, or biking along the Tuscobia Trail.

Organizer: "When we took over organizing it three years ago," race co-director Chris Scotch explains, "we had roughly 40 people. This year around 150 are taking part. More than three times that."


The trail was used heavily by railroads to move logs to Chippewa Falls and other places. Folks also road the rails on the line until it shut down in the 1960s. Today it's part of the state's many trails for hiking, biking, and riding snowmobiles.

Ron Petit of the Friends of Tuscobia Trail says, "It's an enduring sport. You have people camping along the trail. They get hardcore."

Regardless of how racers where competing, everyone seems to have a reason to enjoy hitting the Tuscobia Trail.

Rhinelander native Kristin Palecek is skiing it for the first time. She's using this as a chance to get ready to ski the American Birkebiner later this year.

"Just like to see the snow off the trees, the nice weather. It's nice to race close to home."

Some just wanted to experience a winter race for the first time.

Milwaukee's Linda Britz calls it, "a wonderful adventure. Can you do this? I just thinks it's really neat to see if you can survive the elements."

Others it's not so much about the race, but spending time with family and friends.

Butch Piontek of Wabeno and his son Justin are biking it together.

"Racing together for 7-8 years. Started snow-biking heavily last year. Good to spend time with my son."

Racers had the choice of either competing in 35, 75, or 150 miles.


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 IN OTHER NEWS

VILAS COUNTY - A 77-year-old man died in a crash near Boulder Junction late Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol, it happened around 3:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 51 and County Highway H.

Investigators think a van went through an intersection and hit a semi truck.

"There was injury," said Boulder Junction Fire Chief Matthew Reuss. "The two passengers in the van had to be extricated. One was taken to Howard Young Medical Center for further care. The driver of the semi was uninjured and the second passenger in the van was pronounced dead at the scene."

According to Wisconsin State Patrol, the driver of the van is a 68-year-old woman from Colby. Crews later took her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield for non-life threatening injuries. Her passenger, a 77-year-old male from Colby, died in the crash. They were both wearing seatbelts. 

The driver of the semi is 63 years old and from South Range. 

Traffic was rerouted through Boulder Junction for several hours and was reopened shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Several units responded to the scene.

"Because we had multiple patients, we dispatched multiple ambulance units," Reuss said. "We called in resources from Arbor Vitae for traffic control and we called Manitowish Waters for help in extrication and ambulance service as well as Medic 5 out of Howard Young."

State Patrol and the Vilas County Sheriff's Office will investigate the crash.

Police will not release the names until the families are notified. 

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STEVENS POINT - A baby in Portage County ended up in the hospital for seizures twice in three days last fall.  Police think the mother's live-in boyfriend may have shaken that baby.

Matthew Huettl, 25, pleaded not guilty to felony charges for first-degree reckless injury and child abuse in Portage County Court on Tuesday.

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NORTHWOODS - Roads stayed fairly safe north of highway eight Tuesday, but an ice storm caused a lot of slick conditions south of there.

As of Tuesday morning, the state patrol dealt with more than 200 incidents around the region.

But for the most part, drivers weren't crashing into each other.

"The number of slide ins have really outnumbered the number of crashes, which kind of tells us that's good that motorists have been listening and kind of adding a little more distance between themselves and other vehicles so that's good, so it looks like the total number of slide ins have been significantly higher than crashes," said State Patrol Sergeant, Dan Gruebele

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RHINELANDER - When police arrested Alexander Durand for stealing a car, they found he had been stealing mail as well.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office arrested Durand, 21, Saturday for driving a car stolen from a house near Rhinelander. During that investigation, officers found a lot of other people's mail on Durand's property.

The mail was from all over Oneida County as well as other counties.  The Sheriff's Office will contact the people whose mail has been found.

Durand is due in court January 23.

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The Rhinelander Area Silent Trails Association puts in a lot of work, in part to attract more people to its trails. 

The group works with the Oneida County Forest to improve trails.

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MERRILL - Republicans planned to go after the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, quickly after taking control of Congress and the White House. Less than a month into session and the House of Representatives started picking apart the healthcare law. Many Americans are wondering what will happen to Obamacare. Congressman Sean Duffy held a town hall at Les & Jim's Lincoln Lanes in Merrill this afternoon to answer the public's questions. 

According to Duffy (R-Weston), the Affordable Care Act will be repealed because it is effective for 20 million people, but not for all of America. 

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