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Merrill's state seven ready to shineSubmitted: 02/26/2014
Story By Joe Dufek


MERRILL - The Merrill Bluejays wrestling team will be very busy the next two weeks.

Seven members of the team have qualified for this week's state individual wrestling tournament.

The Bluejays have also qualified for next week's team wrestling championships.

Both are in Madison.

Wednesday afternoon, the Bluejays held their final practice before heading down to state. Competition begins Thursday.


Three sectional champions lead the Bluejays efforts. 170-pounder David Pophal, 220-pound defending state champ Tyler Schmidt, and Ben Hintze at 182.

Head coach Scott Arneson is a Rhinelander native. In fact he won a state championship for the Hodags in 1984.

Arneson and the Bluejays are ready to get started.

"The best thing is we do get wrestle next weekend," Arneson explains. "It's made our practices this week and hopefully our accomplishments this weekend a lot easier. There's less pressure because we know we get another opportunity to wrestle."

"Mr. Arneson is a very intense coach," Pophal adds. "That's how we like to wrestle. We like to be intense and totally in control."

"It's phenomenal," defending Division One 220 pound state champion Tyler Schmidt says. "Last year I was happy with four teammates heading down. This year, seven wrestlers are headed down. We're all such a tight knit group - like a family. It's awesome having seven going (to state)."

"It's nice to be representing the school and Merrill," Hintze - making his first trip to state - points out. "We have a great fan base. We've had that all year. Going down there is going to be awesome."

To check out the state brackets for all three divisions, click on the link below.


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MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.

Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.

Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.

"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."

On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.

Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.

The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.

"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."

Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer. 


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NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.

They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.

But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.

And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.

That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.

It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.

"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate. 

Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday. 

You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.

All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.

That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.

"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."

If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.


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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 04/29/2016

- Local schools have stepped up to show their support for the Antigo community after last weekend's prom shooting. We'll show you what that effort looks like at Lakeland.

- Plus, a local greenhouse that was destroyed by a tornado in 2011 and was rebuilt is celebrating it's20th anniversary. We'll take you to the celebration.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - We now know who were the three people killed during Wednesday's double-murder suicide in Wisconsin Rapids.

The Wisconsin Rapids Police Department says  36-year-old Justin Bohn of Wisconsin Rapids shot and killed his 5-year-old daughter, Paige, and his 3-year-old son, Devon.



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MERRILL - For six months, we wondered whether someone intentionally started what the fire department described as a suspicious house fire in Merrill.

Friday, the Merrill Police Department announced it has arrested the man believed responsible for the October 22, 2015 fire—22-year-old David Ostrowski of Merrill.

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VILAS COUNTY - Vilas County will need to fill a vacancy soon at the district attorney's office.

The current DA, Al Moustakis, has filed paperwork showing that he won't run for re-election.

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MINOCQUA - Lakeland and Antigo generally square off as rivals in Great Northern Conference competition. But on Friday, nearly a week removed from the prom shootings in Antigo, Lakeland wanted to show that it was on Antigo's side.

"It's hard to react to something like this, because you want to be concerned, and you want to help, but it's hard to know how to help," said Maggie Laurence, a Lakeland sophomore and Student Council member.

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