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Wisconsin contributes to successful Olympic speed skaters Submitted: 02/10/2014
Story By Shardaa Gray


WEST ALLIS - Winter Olympics history tells us Americans can fly on ice.

Our nation's speed skaters have won more Olympic gold medals than skaters for
any other country.

Wisconsin plays a big part in this success story.

Newswatch 12's Shardaa Gray takes us to West Allis where the Spirit of the North
has driven speed skaters for decades.

"It hasn't really hit me yet, but once I'm there and getting into it and being
with the team; it will start to sink in." said America's youngest speed skater,
Emery Lehman.

17 year old Emery Lehman from Illinois is the youngest U.S. Olympic speed skater
this year.

90 years ago a young speed skater named Charles Jewtraw was the first person
ever to win a gold medal in the very first Winter Olympics.

Jewtraw won the 500 meter event in 1924 in Chamonix, France.

Emery isn't sure if he'll make history like Jewtraw, but he does have high hopes.

"My goals are probably to finish between 15th and 10th in the 5K," Emery said.

"Then 10K, only 16 skaters; probably I'm going in ranked like 16th. So anything
better than last at this point."

Before leaving for Sochi, Lehman trained at the Pettit National Ice Center in
West Allis.

He has been training there since he was 14 years old.

They've trained Olympians since 1992, after it was reconstructed to become an
indoor facility.

"The impetus behind it was to create an Olympic training site. So it had to open
by the end of 1992 for political reasons within the US speed skating," said
Pettit Ice Center Executive Director, Randy Dean.

"The USOOC had to be open by the end of 1992 to be an official US Olympic
training site."

The Pettit Center replaced the outdoor 24 year old Wisconsin Olympic Ice Rink.

"It was right here in this very site; almost not the exact place where the oval
is today, but very close. They'd tell stories of the salt blowing off the
expressway, the headwinds and how cold it was," Dean said.

"There wasn't any enclosed oval in the United States. So people got together
here and raised some money, got some help from the state and built the Pettit
Center here for about 14 million dollars."

85 speed skating medals have been won by American Olympians going into Sochi Games.

Out of that number, 70 medals were won by Olympians that trained or based at the
Pettit Center.

Emery's mom remembers when he first put on speed skating skates.

"They loaned him a pair of boats, he got on the ice, he looked at me I was
standing on the bleachers, kind of shrugged his shoulders looked down at his
boots and started to skate and he fell in love with it." said Emery's mother,
Marcia Lehman.

"He just had that intangible quality that you can see in some kids. It's like
you can't really teach it. Once you see it's there to be developed." Emery's
coach, Jeff Klaiber said.

"It's definitely paid off now. Traveling's a lot of fun and competing is a lot
of fun. It's all worth it in the end," said Emery.

"Especially because I love it, it's a lot easier. It's probably a lot harder for
my mom and dad who put in just as much dedication as I did, but they don't get
to travel as much."

Emery raced Friday; finishing 16th out of 26 races in the men's 5,000 meters,
the best finish by an American.

The 10K comes next Tuesday.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

DURANT, MISS. - 1:30 p.m.

A former nun who knew one of the two nuns slain in Mississippi says she had always been interested in working with the "poorest of the poor."

Darlene Nicgorski said Saturday that she had recruited Sister Margaret Held to come to Holly Springs, Mississippi, to work as a social worker in a program there that ran schools and offered day care to help young mothers finish school.

Nicgorski said Held was "always interested in working with the marginalized, the underserved, the poorest of the poor."

Held and Sister Paula Merrill were found dead Thursday in their Mississippi home. A suspect was arrested late Friday and charged in their killings.

Nicgorski said the sisters' deaths just don't make sense. She said they would have given the suspect anything he needed.

__

The Kentucky-based order where one of two slain nuns belonged says the order is establishing a memorial fund to continue her work.

Diane Curtis, a spokeswoman for Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, said they have received messages from around the world from people asking how they can support them in this tragedy.

The fund will be established through the order's website at http://bit.ly/2bIAee8 .

She says it will be used to "continue the legacy of Sister Paula, to minister to the poor."

The order is also asking for prayers for all involved in the tragedy.

She says Merrill went to Kentucky from Aug. 17 until Monday to meet with others from Sisters of Charity.

Curtis called it a "beautiful visit."

__

11:55 a.m.

The clinic where two slain nuns worked says the man accused of killing them was not a patient there.

Dr. Elias Abboud, the physician who oversees the clinic, says he called the office manager after he saw there was an arrest made to check if Rodney Earl Sanders had been a patient at the clinic but he was not.

Sanders was arrested late Friday in the deaths of two nuns whose bodies were found Thursday. Sisters Paula Merrill and Margaret Held were both nurses who had spent about 30 years helping people in Mississippi.

Abboud says the community and the patients will miss them.

__

Father Greg Plata (PLATT-ah) of Greenwood, Mississippi, is sacramental minister at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Lexington, where the Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill had led Bible study for years.

Plata said Saturday that he does not think people at the church knew 46-year-old Rodney Earl Sanders of Kosciusko, who has been charged with two counts of capital murder in the slayings of the nuns.

Sanders was arrested late Friday and is being held at an undisclosed location while he waits for an initial court appearance to be set. Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain said Saturday he does not know whether Sanders is represented by an attorney.

The bodies of Held and Merrill were found Thursday in their home in Durant, Mississippi.

__

11:30 a.m.

The order of one of the nuns killed in Mississippi has issued a statement that thanks the law enforcement officers who are working on the case.

The statement by the U.S. Province Leadership Team, School Sisters of St. Francis, says Sister Margaret Held belonged to their community.

The community offered its "deepest appreciation" to investigators and to "the hundreds of people and organizations who offered their prayers and words of support in the wake of the sisters' deaths."

The bodies of Held and Sister Paul Merrill of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth were found Thursday in their Mississippi home. The women worked as nurse practitioners at a clinic for the poor. Rodney Earl Sanders, 46, of Kosciusko (cause-ee-EH-sko), Mississippi faces capital murder charges in their deaths.

___

10:40 a.m.

The nephew of a nun who was killed in Mississippi says he's thankful a suspect has been arrested so that no one else is at risk but that it does not bring closure to the grieving family.

David Merrill, speaking by telephone from Stoneham, Mass., says he heard about the arrest of Rodney Earl Sanders early Saturday morning.

He says the family is "thankful that he's off the streets," but the family still has to deal with the loss.

Sanders is accused of killing Sisters Paula Merrill and Margaret Held, whose bodies were found Thursday in their Mississippi home.

David Merrill says he agrees with the idea of forgiveness and trying to forgive the person who killed his aunt and her fellow nun. But he says he's "not as strong" as his aunt, and he's not sure if he's "capable of completely forgiving."

__

9:40 a.m.

Authorities in Mississippi don't anticipate any more arrests in the slayings of two nuns.

Forty-six-year-old Rodney Earl Sanders of Kosciusko (cause-ee-EH-sko), Mississippi, was charged late Friday with two counts of capital murder in the deaths of Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, both 68.

State Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain tells The Associated Press that as of Saturday, "investigators believe Sanders acted alone."

Sanders is being held at an undisclosed jail and his initial court appearance has not been set. Strain says he doesn't know whether Sanders is represented by an attorney.

The bodies of Held and Merrill were discovered Thursday in their home in Durant, Mississippi, after they failed to show up for work at a clinic in nearby Lexington, where they were nurse practitioners.

____

1:15 a.m.

A spokeswoman for the Kentucky-based congregation where one of two murdered Mississippi nuns will be buried has expressed thanks to those working to solve the case.

Diane Curtis, director of communications for Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, based in Nazareth, Kentucky, tells The Associated Press in a statement early Saturday: "Our congregation expresses gratitude to all who have been working so hard on this investigation. At this time we continue to pray for everyone involved in this tragedy."

Forty-six-year-old Rodney Earl Sanders of Kosciusko, Mississippi, was charged Friday night with two counts of capital murder in the deaths of Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, both 68.

Their bodies were discovered Thursday after they failed to show up for work at a clinic in Lexington, Mississippi, about 10 miles from where they lived.

Held will be buried in Wisconsin and Merrill will be buried at her congregation's headquarters in Nazareth, Kentucky.

____

12:30 a.m.

Authorities say they have charged a 46-year-old man in connection with the deaths of two nuns who were killed in Mississippi.

Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain said in a statement Friday night that Rodney Earl Sanders of Kosciusko has been charged with two counts of capital murder in the deaths of Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, both 68.

Their bodies were discovered Thursday after they failed to show up for work at a clinic in Lexington, Mississippi, about 10 miles from where they lived.

Lt. Colonel Jimmy Jordan says "Sanders was developed as a person of interest early on in the investigation."

Sanders is being held in an undisclosed detention center awaiting his initial court appearance.

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MILWAUKEE -  Researchers have found elevated numbers of tumors in fish in the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic rivers, suggesting that more cleanup efforts are needed to remove contaminants from the three Wisconsin waterways.

The study led by the U.S. Geological Survey found elevated skin and liver tumors in white suckers. It also found that some male white suckers sampled for the study had testicular tumors. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/2bsUOyk ) that finding was a surprise as those tumors had not often been found in other research projects involving polluted rivers targeted for cleanups.

The study, published in the Journal of Fish Diseases, says exact cause of the tumors isn't known. But previous research has suggested that exposure to certain chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can cause liver tumors in fish.

___

+ Read More

PORT CLINTON, OHIO - Ohio wildlife officers say 24 people from Wisconsin and one from Ohio have been convicted of exceeding their daily limit of walleye on Lake Erie.

The state's natural resources department says the convictions follow an investigation that began last spring.

Officers say they seized more than 500 pounds of walleye meat after finding that the fish had been cut up to disguise how many had been kept.

Wildlife officers say they were acting on several tips from the public.

Ohio officials say the suspects were ordered to pay $3,300 in fines and court costs.

The natural resources department said in a recent news release that the seized walleye were donated to people in northwest Ohio through several facilities, including the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky County.

+ Read More

CONOVER - Normally when you think of horse races, you think short sprints, but that wasn't the case in Conover on Saturday.

The Northern Highland Endurance Ride brought riders from all over the Northwoods together.

"Often you're out there alone and it's just you and your horse," said longtime rider and veterinarian Taryn Lindbeck.

She says riders and horses share a bond that's strengthened with each mile of long distance endurance riding.

+ Read More

STATEWIDE - A federal appeals court has refused to reconsider a pair of rulings affecting Wisconsin's voter ID law, meaning no more changes to the requirement are likely before the November election.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday unanimously declined to have a full panel of judges hear appeals of two recent rulings affecting the voter ID requirement and a host of other election-related laws. The U.S. Supreme Court would have to intervene for any changes to happen before the election Nov. 8.

The appeals court's upholding the earlier rulings means that Wisconsin voters will have to show an acceptable ID to vote, but those having trouble getting it can get a temporary ID from the Division of Motor Vehicles.

+ Read More

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EAGLE RIVER - You might think a business incubator focuses on creating jobs.  But the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation lives by the mindset of creating opportunities, knowing that when you do that the jobs tend to follow.

+ Read More

Play Video

ST. GERMAIN - A brand-new rental in St. Germain just opened for business last year. 

"I stumbled across the house and noticed it was vacant," said Roger Bauer.

Three years ago, with grass up to his knees, Roger knew he had a lot of work ahead of him. 

"[It was] a complete gut job, down to the bare studs," he said.

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