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Northwoods Spotlight - Snowmobile racing preview Jan 8Submitted: 01/08/2014
Story By Joe Dufek

Northwoods Spotlight - Snowmobile racing preview Jan 8
EAGLE RIVER - The familiar roar of snowmobiles racing on the track returns this weekend. It's the annual Vintage snowmobile races at Eagle River Derby Track.

Steve Decker is the Chief Operations Officer at the track.

"The vintage weekend has grown," Steve explains. "Because guy grewe up watching the races. Now they're living their dream being out on the track."

The below normal temperatures this winter have actually made preparations better at the track. At last check, the ice depth on the track is 22 inches.


"We've got to have at least 15 inches of ice to make it through two weekends," Richard Decker - the track's Marketing Director adds. "Right now the weather looks great for vintage weekend. I think we'll have good racing."

Of course the World Championship Snowmobile Derby is next week. While the drivers race the older sleds this weekend, the event is a chance to also make sure things are top-notch for Derby weekend.

Richard is happy to have the weekends back to back.

"To open this place up - especially as cold as it has been - it takes the rough edges off for us," Richard explains. "Every year we get new volunteers. It gives them a break in time. Then when it is derby time - it helps out. It's a plus, plus for us."


Joe: Approximately 1,000 racers are expected to take part this weekend.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point Police are investigating an armed robbery.

Around 6 a.m. Sunday morning, police and Portage County Sheriff Deputies responded to a report of an armed robbery at the R Store in the 5400 block of HWY 10 E in Stevens Point. Police say during the initial investigation, they determined an armed suspect displayed a weapon and took money from the store.

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BOULDER JUNCTION - People from as far as Iowa and New York travelled to the Northwoods on Saturday to take on a unique challenge. Boulder Junction held a new winter sports event that proved to be quite a success.

"I'm just really happy to see this all come together," said Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Theresa Smith.

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PELICAN LAKE - Tribal members from across Wisconsin held a Deep Winter Camp to pass on parts of their cultures.
Members from several different tribes wanted to give kids the chance to experience a piece of their culture.
They hope the camp encourages younger members to keep traditions going and never forget where they came from.
"They're going to be the next teachers they're good kids and we all love every kid that came here and spent time with us. They all learned something and they'll take it back and teach others," said Lac du Flambeau Band Vice Chairman John Johnson Sr.

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CONOVER - Hundreds of people gathered in Conover to celebrate all things winter. On Saturday the fifth annual Northwoods Blizzard Blast was held. 

There were horse drawn sleigh rides, sledding, giant ski races, and plenty of other winter activities.

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CRANDON - Forest County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Justice was justified in shooting and killing 31-year-old Brandon Cude on Jan. 4, Forest County District Attorney Chuck Simono ruled Friday.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice released the results of its investigation in the case, and Simono's decision, Friday afternoon.

The DOJ documents detail how Cude swung a shotgun at Justice at close range. The deputy had just learned Cude had felony warrants against him, and Justice was trying to arrest Cude. Justice fired four shots on the scene, a rural road south of Crandon.

"He didn't get a shot off?" a fellow officer asked Justice after the shooting.

"No. He tried, though. Pulled that sucker out and pointed it right at me," Justice replied in an exchange recorded on a body camera.

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MINOCQUA - Many Lakeland Union High School parents kept their children home from school Friday. Threats to shoot up the school felt all too real after 17 people died in a Florida school this week. The high school stayed open Friday, however the atmosphere felt different.
Friday students walked through a crowd of police and sat in nearly empty classrooms.
"I didn't want to take the chance that something was going to happen to my son," said Lakeland Union High School parent Jennifer Stough. 
 
Stough's 17- year- old son Zach had a lot to look forward to this weekend. Instead she kept him home Friday.
"I have friends that went to school today and that makes me nervous," said Zach.
Yesterday a student and teacher found shooting threats on a ladies bathroom stall suggesting a repeat of what happened in Florida.

"It's not a joke and we take these things seriously," said Minocqua Police Chief Dave Jaeger.
Minocqua police quickly got involved. However, the threats didn't stop there.

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EAGLE RIVER - Vilas County officers can now respond to active shooter calls better prepared.

All deputies and patrol offices now have access to steel-plated body armor, something only the Vilas County SWAT Team had before.

"We want to make sure our staff are fully protected," said Vilas County Sheriff's Office Captain Gerard Ritter. "I never want to see anything happen to any one of my staff. And we should outfit them with the protection they need."

Before the new body armor, Ritter said officers and deputies only had access to soft body armor.

"The weave material is designed to stop or slow down a projectile," said Ritter.

Officers will still wear the soft-bodied armor every day, but in active shooter situations, officers can now essentially double up on protection, protection once only offered to the SWAT Team.

"There has been an increase in active shooter incidences across the United States," said Ritter.

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