Torch Light Parade to return after 30 yearsSubmitted: 01/14/2014
Story By Joe Dufek

EAGLE RIVER - The 51st annual World Championship Snowmobile Derby gets underway later this week. Racing in Eagle River runs Thursday through Sunday.

For many years, the Torch Light Parade was a unique snowmobile ride started in downtown Eagle River. The riders would travel to the Eagle River Sports Arena.

After a 30 year absence, it's back. The tour is put on by the Sno-Eagles snowmobile club and the Eagle River Lions club.

Officially it's not part of the Derby.

However, it's a great tradition from the weekend making a return.

As the snowmobiles changed, they damaged city streets. That's why it was stopped in the mid 80s.

The trail was lit with torches or candles years ago.

Now they'll have glow sticks. The riders will have them too. Folks are excited to have the ride back.

"As the snowmobiles got more modern, we just couldn't get the approval to do it," Richard Decker - the Marketing Director at Eagle River Derby Track explains. "Now you can snowmobile in downtown Eagle River. Not on all of the streets but some of them. It made a really big difference. I think it will be interesting for the public to watch and anyone who wants to join in and ride."

"Years ago we (lit the trail) with candles," Jim Ayers of the Sno-Eagles and Lions club adds. "That was a problem keeping them lit. Now we have some new products. Hopefully it will make it really nice. If it does, we'll do it again next year I think."

The Torch Light Parade begins at 6pm on Saturday. The public is invited to take part in the ride. It starts across from Eagle River Derby track.

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RHINELANDER - A Marathon County man who drove to Rhinelander to meet up with a 15-year-old girl for sex told police he nearly turned around.

Instead, Dustin Zernicke pulled into the Shopko parking lot Friday night and found officers waiting for him.

The 35-year-old Zernicke made his initial appearance in Oneida County Court Monday afternoon.  Undercover officers posted an ad on Craigslist pretending to be a 15-year-old girl.  The post said "Mom sent me [to] Rhinelander for the weekend and I have nothing to do."

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WISCONSIN - This year marks the third highest bear harvest in state history.

The totals cement Wisconsin's title as the best state in the U.S. for bear harvests with 4,643 registered.

But it wasn't all good news for bear hunters. 

This year also marked the highest number of hunting dog deaths.

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MINOCQUA - The Minocqua Town Board always knew it would need to replace Supervisor Bryan Jennings eventually. But the Board didn't think it happen so soon.

Jennings died September 8, two days after he was struck by lightning while walking his dog.

Town Chairman Mark Hartzheim says the Town is now accepting letters of interest from anyone wanting to fill Jennings's seat.

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RHINELANDER - We likely won't find out who Rhinelander's next police chief will be until early next year.  But the city is already working to replace Chief Mike Steffes.

Newswatch 12 learned earlier this month Chief Steffes is leaving Rhinelander to take a job with the Department of Justice.

Steffes beat out 34 other candidates to win the chief job in 2007.  Police and Fire Commission President Todd McEldowney expects to see dozens of new applicants this time.

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WAUSAU - This fall Wausau's Woodson Art Museum will bring together artists from all over the world. 

The Birds in Art exhibit gives artists an opportunity to share a piece of themselves with their audience.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/24/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll update you on the details of a fatal car crash in the Town of Stella that took the life of a teenager late Saturday night.

This year marks the third highest bear harvest in state history. But it also marked the highest number of hunting dog deaths. No one knows for sure why, but we'll tell you about some possible reasons.

And the Elcho-White Lake High School football team agreed to play an 8-man football game against a nearby high school's team. We'll tell you how it's helping out the nearby team.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MERRILL - The Merrill Fire Department sees the need for more, younger EMTs to get into the business. Like other area departments, it wants to ensure its staff will stay strong for years into the future.

People like Dylan Schielke can help make that happen.

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