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


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

RHINELANDER - Trig's Smokehouse in Rhinelander hired 15 new employees to start a second shift. Supervisor Geremiah Young remembers the early days of Trig's Smokehouse. He's worked there since 2009 which was before the plant on Stevens Street was even built.

"We had one little stuffer and now we've got two lines going and looking to possibly get more," said Young.

That demand for more was enough to add a second shift and 15 new jobs at the Smokehouse.

"We're fairly excited about for this second shift. It means a lot more of our product is getting out to the world and we're very excited for that," said Young.

Getting out tons of new product may be more accurate.

"We're doing about 4,000 pounds of just bratwurst and with the first shift, they were doing about 3,000 pounds of sticks. Throughout both shifts I know we can do a maximum of that and right now we're going through quite a bit," said Young.

The day shift goes from 6am-2:30pm when the second shift comes in and takes over right away, making the shift change relatively smooth.

"We've got one person coming in and one person steps out. We exchange what we were doing for the day, what products were ran during the day and we continue on from there," said Young.

With the 15 new night time employees, training can be a challenge. 

"Training… it's going… it's like anybody else, you come off the street and this is a whole different ballgame from what they're used to," said Young.

In addition to the 15 hired employees, the Smokehouse is still looking for about six more.

"It's a fun, fast-paced environment. If you think you've got it, come on in. But be prepared for the cold."

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MADISON - Concerns about treatment of veterans at Wisconsin's largest veterans home will be investigated.

The co-chairs of the Legislature's Audit Committee said Wednesday they support approving an audit for the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King.

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TOMAHAWK - It doesn't look like the candidates for northern Wisconsin's seat in Congress can agree on a debate schedule just yet. 

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Weston) said earlier this week he wants two debates, one in Superior and one in Wausau.

But that's apparently not enough for his democratic challenger. Mary Hoeft said she wants six debates.
Originally Hoeft said she wanted a debate in all 26 counties in the district.

"But people said to me, Mary, when you make this request to the Duffy campaign, make it reasonable," Hoeft said. "So alright I went in my head from 26 down to six." 

Hoeft said more debates would help voters make a more informed decision when they go to the polls. 

"But I'm happier than if he had said zero," Hoeft said. "But I'm not going to stop, though. I'm going to ask the people of the 7th Congressional District, if you want more forums, make sure that your voice is heard."

Hoeft hosted a meet and greet in Tomahawk Wednesday morning. She addressed a group of about 20 people. 

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ANTIGO - A fire left some minor damage to a business in Antigo earlier today.

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MOSINEE - The Marathon County Sheriff's Office says a 60-year-old Marathon County man died Tuesday night after trying to push a pontoon boat off a sand bar in the Wisconsin River.

The victim was identified as James A. Bohn of the Town of Knowlton.




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ANTIGO - People hoping to use the Antigo library will need to find a different location for the next month.

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MANITOWISH WATERS - If you don't like getting your hands dirty you might want to avoid Manitowish Waters this weekend.

"Right away we're getting them nice and muddy and dirty and then they continue their jaunt for four miles," chamber director Sarah Pischer said.

Wednesday, workers created 12 obstacles -- some high in the air, some low to the ground -- for the fifth-annual Northwoods Bad Dash Mud Run.  Pischer says volunteers build new challenges for racers every year.

"We wouldn't be able to do things like this, we're not carpenters and we really appreciate all the help we've had in past years from all our volunteers," Pischer said.

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