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Northwoods Spotlight - Snowmobile Derby recap Jan 22Submitted: 01/23/2014
Story By Marisa Silvas

Northwoods Spotlight - Snowmobile Derby recap Jan 22
EAGLE RIVER - Tomahawk's Nick Van Strydonk won the world championship in 2012. He knows
competing at Eagle River Derby Track is special.

"You can't put it into words, Van Strydonk said. "It's its own special feeling.
We do it for the fans. We're not out here to make money. We're not out here to
prove anything to the guys we race against. We're out here for the fans, we
like to put on a show and have fun."

Lance Rutledge is an amatuer sno cross racer from Rhinelander.

"The adrenaline rush you get, especially in that last lap, it all comes into
play," Rutledge adds.


Speed, adversity and triumph, Derby Weekend had it all - including talented
local drivers.

It wasn't just the guys tearing it up. 17 year old Sabrina Blanchet from Quebec
set out to become the first female to qualify for the final race, but she had a
tough weekend.

"It's disappointing but I'm not mad or upset," Blanchet explains. "The team
does a lot of work to give me the best machine they can. We'll come back and
try to do it all over again."

Another tradition that dates back to the early years is the Derby Queen.
Northland Pines hockey star Jessica Roach won that honor for 2014.

"It's definitely awesome being part of the derby," Roach said. "We're a big
hockey town but the Derby is what people look forward to in the winter."

The sleds that race out here aren't like anything you'd see on a trail. They're
hand built from the ground up and hits speeds up to 100 miles per hour on the track.

In the end, it was Malcolm Chartier winning the granddaddy of them all and
becoming a back to back champ.

"We did our homework," Chartier said. "We did it last year and tried to
replicate what we did last year and did it again."

"To be able to live in a little town like Eagle River and have a business
because there's not that much other tourism it's just very gratifying," derby
track marketing manager Richard Decker points out. "It's a lot of hard work but
believe me, everything is worth it. We love it."


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 IN OTHER NEWS

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Thursday, volunteers faced mosquitos, ticks and rain to conserve 96 acres of land.

The Marshall Wildlife Conservation Center in Lac du Flambeau hosted a volunteer work day to dismantle a deteriorating pier and platform on a new conservation land donation.

Northwoods Land Trust Executive Director Bryan Pierce says the land has a creek and pond with many swans and beavers.

"We're going to be installing a brand new pier, so it will be a real nice wildlife observation area for people to look at the water, the swans and cranes," said Pierce.

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RHINELANDER - After nearly 40 years as a pharmacist, Tom Welke has been robbed, threatened at gunpoint, and had his pharmacy burgled.

"It just kind of goes along with the job, in a way," Welke said in Rhinelander's Apothecary Pharmacy on Thursday afternoon.

One of the main reasons lately for those crimes tends to be people trying to get their hands illegally on pseudoephedrine pills, which they can use to make meth.

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MERRILL - One hundred years ago, Finland gained its independence from Russia. As part of Finland's birthday, a sauna will travel the United States.

On Thursday, the traveling sauna stopped in Merrill. Since January, the sauna has been traveling around the country.

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RHINELANDER - Nicolet College's Motorcycle Basic Rider Course teaches folks to safely hit the road on their bike.

The class is in full swing for the season.

Nicolet College Rider Coach Mike Murray says even experienced riders can use a "safety brush-up" this time of year.

Riders should always wear their helmet, long pants and shirts, gloves, and boots.

It's also important to keep your eyes moving for critters that come out of the woods,especially deer.

"If you know you're going to hit it: let off your brakes, hit it with your handle bars straight ahead looking straight ahead so that your bike stays straight up," says rider coach Mike Murray.

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RHINELANDER - Hodag Park received a sizable donation Thursday morning. New sand was dropped off to help the Rhinelander Parks Department grow the beach back to its original shape.

There were thousands of pounds of sand dropped off and spread out. There was a high need for this because of all the rain we've had this season.

"It was getting in pretty poor shape and washing out more and more, but this year especially, it just seems like we've lost a lot of sand. So now we're going to shape it up nicely and hopefully it'll last the year," said Rhinelander Parks Director, Jeremy Biolo.

All of that sand was donated and delivered by a company in Rhinelander.

"Musson Brothers, Inc. donated all the sand and they said we could help ourselves to as much as we want, which is unbelievable because this beach really needed some work," said Biolo. "Every little bit like that helps our community out and it improves the community. It's awesome that the Musson Brothers stepped up and would do that for us."

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CONOVER - June 22 makes it the 14th day of rainfall for us this month, and it's not been very convenient.

People all over northcentral Wisconsin have had to deal with storm damage or flooding in some way.

Pioneer Lake in Conover has had a particularly tough time with flooding not only because of the rain, but also because of a dam upstream.

"We've got 20 piers here, and they're floating away, they're underwater," said Maple View Resort and Campground Owner Tony Osiecki. "I've never seen it like this in fifty years."

Osiecki blames the deluge of rain we've gotten in the past few weeks for the flooding in his resort. But he and many others on the lake also blame a dam upstream.

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RHINELANDER - Bill Makris taught P.E. at Rhinelander High School for 30 years. But he's since shifted his time to teaching summer camps.

"These are kids that want to be here," said Makris.

The camps aren't your typical workshops or outdoor activities.

"Strength training, speed development, agility," said Makris.

He helps younger kids concentrate on attainable athletic goals.

"I do like running track and cross country so I want to increase my speed ability," said Rhinelander 8th grader, Sage Flory.

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