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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

HARSHAW - More than 50 people from Vilas, Forest, and Oneida counties came together Wednesday to learn leadership skills. 

Northwoods United Way hosted the second annual Leaderfest at Rondele Ranch in Harshaw. 

Executive Director Nancy Sattler was excited to present this opportunity to people in the area. 

"We want to offer the opportunity for enrichment, learning, and growth and the opportunity also to network with other people from the Northwoods and to learn from them and maybe they can help them in the future," said Sattler. 

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RHINELANDER - Kids all over Wisconsin will head back to school soon.

However, workers at a Rhinelander bus service say knowing bus safety skills could safe your child's life.

"The song Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round inspired me so much. That's why I became a bus driver," said Jake Kriesel a Rhinelander bus driver who never puts a break on fun.

But Kriesel says bus safety is no laughing matter.
"Bus drivers only have one thing in mind and that is your safety," said Kriesel.

Kriesel drives for Bowen's Bus Service, and Thursday he will be a part of a School Bus Safety Open House.

"Making sure there're safe. That's really our number one job," said Kriesel.

The open house will have three bus emergency scenarios for kids to learn how to evacuate safely.

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GREEN BAY - A Green Bay Police captain and a secretary sickened after opening a suspicious envelope have returned to work.

The Police Department headquarters was evacuated Monday afternoon when the workers became ill.

The workers were released from a hospital Monday night and returned to work Tuesday.

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MADISON - Wisconsin state Superintendent Tony Evers says his years of experience leading schools in the state makes him the best Democratic candidate to challenge Republican Governror Scott Walker for re-election next year.

Evers officially launched his candidacy on Wednesday.

He says in an interview that his three statewide victories as state superintendent show he can gather the support needed to defeat Walker.

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WAUSAU - You'd never guess it seeing the rows of stocked shelves and fresh paint, but Kevin Korpela's Downtown Grocery store in Wausau once stood as four fire-damaged walls with no roof.

"We had a home to go to, it just wasn't ready yet," Korpela said.

Tuesday morning, Korpela and his wife, Megan Curtes Korpela, showed Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch around their new digs in its old location nearly two years after fire destroyed the grocery on North Third Street.  A teenager tossed a lit cigarette in a dumpster behind the building in September 2015, severely damaging the building, which also housed Evolve Fitness and Sweets on Third.

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CONOVER - Three years ago, Vilas County decided to turn land near Torch Lake into a campground.

Tuesday those plans became reality.

"It's great in Conover. What more could you ask for?" said Vilas County Supervisor Art Kunde. 

After nearly three years of planning and building, Kunde was finally able to officially open Torch Lake Campground Tuesday. 

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CRANDON - Every school in Wisconsin teaches its students the basic academic subjects--math, science, and reading. Few schools set aside forgiveness as a special area of study.

High schoolers in Crandon will get a weekly class on forgiveness this year.

This summer, Superintendent Dr. Doug Kryder spoke at an international conference on forgiveness in Jerusalem.

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