Wisconsin ranks second in the U.S. for bird watchingSubmitted: 02/28/2014
Story By Stephanie Fuerte

THREE LAKES - If you look out your window and see a bird, you might be a birder.

A recent U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report ranked Wisconsin second in the U.S. in birders per capita. It ties with West Virginia at 33 percent and is just behind Vermont.

Bill Lamon is an avid birder and president of the Nicolet Bird Club of Three Lakes. He's one of more than 1.6 million birders statewide.

"I really became a bird watcher last year when I saw Sandhill Cranes doing their mating ritual," says Lamon. "When I saw that at Thunderlake Marsh, I thought there was something to be seen in bird watching."

Birders can go out to different hotspots like lakes or trails for their best chance to see certain kinds of birds. Since Wisconsin sits astride a major migratory pathway, it's home to one of the most diverse collection of birds in the country.

Lamon uses an app called iBird Pro to help him identify different birds. There are more than 400 species of birds found in Wisconsin.

But Lamon says you really only need one thing to become a birder.

"I've seen people use very expensive spotting scopes and photography equipment, which is also another branch of the birding experience, but a basic pair of binoculars is really all you need to get involved in the sport."

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WOOD COUNTY - We now know the names of the people involved in a Wood County Crash that killed two people Tuesday afternoon.

The Wood County Sheriff's Department says the cars crashed head-on along Highway 80 in the Town of Dexter around 3:30.

71-year-old Barbara Baldwin of New Lisbon was driving one of the cars, and died in the crash.

Her passenger, 74 year old Louise Hemenway of New Lisbon, also died.

Another passenger in the car, 72-year-old Dona Sharp, was hurt....as was the driver of the second car, 30-year-old Greg Kopelke of Wisconsin Rapids.

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TOMAH - The Tomah VA Medical Center will end a lease agreement for a shelter for homeless veterans.

The Veterans Assistance Foundation has operated the shelter for nearly 20 years.

Tomah VA spokesman Matthew Gowan says there have been more than 30 incidents involving shelter residents recently.

They include a suicide attempt, a drug overdose and criminal violations.

The center has given the foundation notice that it will end the lease in January.

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CRANDON - Kids learn math and English in school, but this evening, the Crandon school district taught their students how to stay drug free. All year long, the school has been promoting values such as respect and forgiveness and tonight was no different.

The Red Ribbon Walk started at the courthouse and then went to Crandon High School. Along the way, walkers saw signs with facts about living a drug free life. No matter how young the students were, they still heard the message loud and clear.

"It's really good for the youth because they can see not to do drugs. To have this event, it should be about a fun experience and it's really good for kids," said 5th grader Bryce Marshall.

Even with the cold temps and rainy weather, there was still a great turnout. After the walk, there was a presentation by motivational speaker Mike McGowan to really push the message of staying drug free.

"I think it's important that we bring forward all the reasons why drugs are bad for kids. They know drugs are bad but how does it affect their lives?" said Crandon parent and teacher Agnes Keller.

The Red Ribbon walk was just one of many events that the school will have over the year to show students how to live out good, positive values.

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RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce wants to push economic growth and work closer with businesses.
But to do that, the chamber needs a new director first.  That process is just starting.

The Chamber Board of Directors voted to fire executive director Bill Clow October 3rd.  Clow had only started last December.  Eric Britton has been serving as interim director since then.

Past president and current board member Brett Aylesworth says the chamber sent out a job description to all members this week, asking if anyone is interested.

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MERRILL - A former Merrill choir teacher will be sentenced today for sexual assault.

Last month, 26 year old Chase Tonar plead no contest to sexual assault of a student by school staff in Lincoln County Court.

Tonar is accused of having sex with a student both while he was a teacher at Merrill High School and after he resigned last May.

Police arrested Tonar in July.

The Lincoln County District Attorney says he will ask for jail time, as well as sex offender reporting and counseling.

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MADISON - A University of Wisconsin student charged with sexually assaulting and choking a woman is expected to face additional charges after investigators say they were contacted by dozens of other women.

Police say officers searching Alec Cook's Madison apartment found a black book with names of women he had met and what he wanted to do with them, including his sexual desires.

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PRICE COUNTY - One of the men who led police from several counties on an hours-long manhunt near Park Falls in June will soon return home to Florida.

Daniel Schoonover, 23, appeared in Price County Court on Wednesday. He pled no contest to all three charges of escaping a criminal arrest, resisting an officer, and possessing LSD.

Schoonover received a sentence of deferred judgment for the escaping charge and a total for 150 days in jail for the other two charges. He also has six months to pay back more than $900 in court fees.

Back in June, Schoonover and two other men were driving to a music festival in Highbridge when they were pulled over. Police found LSD in the car and tried to arrest Schoonover and the other man, but they took off into the woods. Police from Price, Rusk, Taylor, and Saywer counties as well as the DNR and the U.S. Forest Service all helped in the search. Schoonover was eventually spotted on a county road around 8 o'clock that evening.

He's been in the Price County Jail ever since. That's 144 days, and he will get credit for the time served.

According to the criminal complaint, Schoonover said he ran away because he was afraid of getting arrested in another state. Schoonover said he didn't know about the drugs in the car, and that he only drove with the other men because he knew they were headed to the music festival and needed a ride. Before jail, he worked as a cook in Florida.

His attorney said Schoonover does not have a criminal record anywhere else.

The other two men involved, Adrian Rodriguez and Kevin Sweeney, will return to Price County Court in November and December, respectively. 

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