NEWS STORIES

Northwoods County Looks at New System to Help ER Workers Get PagesSubmitted: 10/31/2011
VILAS COUNTY - Firefighters and EMS crews in areas like Presque Isle and Manitowish Waters aren't always getting the emergency pages Vilas County sends out.

To find out why, we have to take a look at government on the federal level.

This is how some of the pages from Vilas County come through in remote ares of the Northwoods.

That's if they even come through at all according to the Manitowish Waters Fire Chief.

Chief Skrobot says, "We can transmit to Vilas County, and we may or we may not get a response that's intelligible."

This story doesn't change much in Presque Isle where Fire Chief James Nelson says sometimes, listening for emergencies requires time since Vilas County dispatch has to individually choose towers to send out pages.

Chief Nelson says, "The people on one end of town will hear the first page, and the people on the other end of town might not hear it until the third page."

Lt. Gary Peske with the Vilas County Sheriff's Office says this is a result of the FCC's narrowbanding mandate.

He says narrowbanding reduces radio transmission width, which shortens the distance they travel...causing workers to miss pages. "Since the narrowbanding has been implemented, that radio transmission now might only travel 1 1/2 miles instead of the previous 2 miles."

To fix the problem, Peske says the county is looking into a simulcast system, which lets calls go out from multiple towers at the same time.

The total cost is estimated around $1 million.

Peske says, "Once we went to the narrowbanding, we anticipated we would lose some of the transmission distance, but we didn't know exactly how significant it was going to be until it actually happened."

But for Chiefs Nelson and Skrobot, it's money well spent. "We're really concerned about the people and getting care to them as quick as possible."

Keeping the lines of communication open when time is of the essence.

Peske says some funding for the simulcast system is available.

He says the rest would be considered into the budget, or written into a borrowing/leasing agreement.

Peske says once funding is secure, it will take only months for the system to get up and running.


Story By: Dana Blado

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Police: Smoking in bathroom caused school fireSubmitted: 04/24/2014

OCONTO - Police say a student smoking in a bathroom caused a fire that resulted in an estimated $5 million in smoke damage at Oconto High School.

After reviewing surveillance video and interviewing students and staff members, Oconto police have identified as 16-year-old student as a person of interest.

Firefighters interviewed the student, who said he left class early and went to the bathroom, where he smoked a home-rolled cigarette.

Police believe the cigarette was used too close to a toilet paper dispenser, causing an accidental fire. No one else used the bathroom after the boy.

The April 16 fire forced the building to be evacuated. Students returned to class Monday at Oconto Middle School.

WLUK-TV (http://bit.ly/1lJIFZH) reports the boy is being referred to the Oconto County Department of Human Services.

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Board speeds up start of short-term loan program Submitted: 04/24/2014

MADISON - The start of a new short-term loan program that wasn't slated to begin until July has been moved up in an effort to help businesses hurt by recent cutbacks at Oshkosh Corp.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state's chief jobs agency, voted this week to start the pilot program earlier. It will provide loans or loan guarantees of up to $250,000 to companies for projects or expenses that may not be eligible for traditional financing.

The board says it was starting the program earlier in light of news that Oshkosh was cutting 760 jobs from its defense division because of budget cuts being made by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The loan program this year will only target businesses in Oshkosh Corp.'s supply chain

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Statewide tornado drillSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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RHINELANDER - There was no severe weather Thursday, but sirens across the Northwoods were blaring at about 1:45 pm on Thursday.

That's because the National Weather Service held a statewide tornado drill.

It was part of their severe weather awareness week, and Oneida County took part in the drill.

"The sirens are only set off for warnings, in the city of Rhinelander, it's only going to be a Severe Thunderstorm Warning that is affecting the city area," said Oneida County Emergency Management Director Ken Kortenhof. "It's also going to be set off for a Tornado Warning affecting the area."

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Duffy might have used earmark to help pay for Northwoods water main breaks, if he couldSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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NORTHWOODS - Water main breaks from this harsh winter will cost Northwoods communities millions of dollars.

The U.S. Congress might want to help.

Under old rules, northern Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Weston) might have tried to get direct federal money to help pay for repairs.

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UPDATE: Police believe they made right choice in Nerf gun ticketsSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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WAUSAU - UPDATE: 5:52pm 4/24/2014

Police believe they made the right choice handling a report of gunmen near a high school in Wausau Tuesday night.

They found out the gunmen were actually six kids playing a game with toy Nerf guns.

Police eventually ended up giving the high school seniors disorderly conduct tickets.

Some people thought the tickets were excessive, but in a press release in released Thursday by the Wausau Police Department said they "believed there was a serious, potentially life threatening situation".

Someone called the Wausau police around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The person said there were people pointing guns at other people in a car.

Police say they handled the situation different than a traffic stop because of the seriousness of the call.

After police got all the seniors out of the car, they saw the nerf guns.

The teens got the disorderly conduct citations because police say they caused a disruption in the neighborhood.

Leaders at Wausau West High School said in a statement that there's "potential in a game like this for negative consequences."

Some of the students have also been placed on athletic probation.

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Six kids got tickets after a battle using toy Nerf guns in Wausau.

Police issued disorderly conduct citations to the high school seniors.

Some residents of Wausau called police when they saw the young people pointing a gun at a car Tuesday night.

But, it was only a toy Nerf gun that shoots foam bullets.

Wausau West High School officials have also placed some students on athletic probation.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)

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Hodag water show pavilion needs repair Submitted: 04/24/2014

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RHINELANDER - It won't be much longer before the Hodag water show gears up for the summer, but right now they need to make repairs to their building. Rod Olson says it may cost between $15,000 and $20,000 to make repairs to the building. To watch the video click on the video link.

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All the deliciousness, one location Submitted: 04/24/2014

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MINOCQUA - People can find some of the best tasting food in the Northwoods.

But it's tough trying all of the different types of restaurants in a community all at once.

Thursday that was possible.

The Minocqua Chamber of Commerce hosted their 7th annual Taste of the North.

It was started by an ambassador from the chamber who passed away.

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