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NEWS STORIES

Northwoods Spotlight - Northland Pines basketball brothers - Mar 5Submitted: 03/05/2014
Story By Joe Dufek


EAGLE RIVER - Last week, the season ended for the Northland Pines boys basketball team. The team only won one game all season long.

But for one Eagle River family, great memories were made - despite the record.

That's because one of the sons is able to enjoy life from the sidelines - despite obstacles.

Ken Kluever of Eagle River and his wife Carie learned their second child - Austin has spinal bifida. It's is a developmental congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube. Some vertebrae overlying the spinal cord are not fully formed. Austin will be bound to a wheel chair his whole life.


"I don't even let it be an issue," Austin explains. "I'd like to be either a coach or a sports therapist."

Austin loves sports - just like any teenager. In fact, the family enjoys watching their oldest son Zach play for the Northland Pines basketball team.

"All the guys like (Austin) when he hangs out with the team," Zach said. "Everyone knows him. He is always there. It's a fun time."

"I could see it from the coach's standpoint," Northland Pines head coach Brent Luebke adds. "(Zach) wanted to play for and get the opportunity to represent his brother and his family."

Winning just one game this year, it was a tough season for the Eagles. However, despite all of the losses, game night was always special.

"It's amazing to watch him play and see how good he is," Austin explains. "His shooting and dribbing."

But that doesn't mean Austin was above giving Zach grief after a game - typical for brothers.

"Every now and again, he would say something under his breath," Zach points out with a laugh. "Try not to make it obvious, but he was always there."

"It's made us closer," Ken adds. "We wouldn't change anything we have done."


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MERRILL - Some parents start to leave their kids home alone around nine years old, but that can make parents very nervous.

Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center held its 21st Lincoln County Safety Day Camp for Kids today in Merrill to help ease those fears.

The camp is specifically geared toward children that are ages 8-11 years old.

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MERRILL - Merrill may get a new grandstand by next summer.

On Monday the city sent out proposal requests for companies to bid on.

The grandstand will go in the Lincoln County Fairgrounds near the location of the old grandstand. That was destroyed in 2011 by a tornado. It sat about 1,800 people on benches, and city leaders said those seats were uncomfortable.

The new grandstand will fit between 2,500 and 3,000 people on stadium seating and benches with backs "to provide a much nicer venue for events," said Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson. 

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- Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel says he is still considering what steps to take next in reaction to new Obama administration rules designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions at power plants.

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

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NORTHERN WISCONSIN - Many colleges across Wisconsin ban tobacco on campus. Now, Northcentral Technical College can join that group.

As of August 1st, all NTC campuses ban tobacco on campus, including chewing tobacco and E-cigarettes. NTC staff sees this as a way to protect student health.

"As we looked at the overall wellness of our students, staff, and our visitors, we felt like that shift was a positive shift to make," said NTC Director of Student Development Shawn Sullivan. "But we made that shift with the intention of also offering resources and services to those students and staff who are interested in quitting the use of tobacco."

The change got rid of designated smoking zones. NTC staff says student feedback has been positive so far.

"Students appreciate the fact that they don't have to walk through smoke or see the tobacco use on campus," said Sullivan. "Obviously there are some students who have questions and we've been dealing with those students individually, offering to have conversations with them to get their feedback, because we think everybody's feedback is important."

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MERRILL - Scheduling likely helped the Lincoln County Fair draw more people this year than last.

The fair took place July 22-26.

Last year, the fair was held the same weekend as the Wisconsin Valley Fair in Wausau.

That changed this year—event organizers think it drew more than 20,000 people. That's based on a parking survey. 

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RHINELANDER - Families who rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, should soon have more flexibility when shopping.

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MADISON - The state Department of Natural Resources plans to unveil a new endangered species license plate.

The plate features a photograph of an eagle. DNR officials say the design was chosen from more than 2,000 entries from photographers.

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