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NEWS STORIES

Northwoods County Looks at New System to Help ER Workers Get PagesSubmitted: 10/31/2011
Story By Dana Blado

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.


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 IN OTHER NEWS
Racine man held in fatal hit-and-run, bail jumpingSubmitted: 12/26/2014

RACINE - A 31-year-old Racine man has been charged in a fatal hit-and-run accident that left a pedestrian dead.

Charges filed Friday against Bradley Hayek allege he was at the wheel of a car that struck a man Thursday night in Racine and fled the scene. The victim, 45-year-old Robert Castaneda, died at a nearby emergency room.

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Court rules landlord not liable in dog attackSubmitted: 12/26/2014

MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court says a landlord can't be held liable as the owner of his tenants' dogs for multiple injuries they inflicted on a woman.

According to court documents, George Kontos allowed his daughter and her family to live on his Winnebago County property with their dogs. In June 2010 the dogs attacked Julie Augsburger.

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Program helps those just diagnosed with breast cancerSubmitted: 12/26/2014

MADISON - People just diagnosed with breast cancer can need someone to talk to.

A University of Wisconsin program gets them support and comfort from others who have been in their shoes.

The Patient Survivor Advocate Program connects those at the front end of treatment with those who have been through it.

A special bond develops between those in the grant-funded program.

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'Keep it Green' wreath in Merrill reminds people to stay safeSubmitted: 12/25/2014

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MERRILL - More than 400 people across the country die in fires during the holiday season each year.

The fire department in Merrill wants to help change that.

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Wausau man celebrates 40 Christmases with 1 treeSubmitted: 12/25/2014

WAUSAU - Neil Olson put up a Christmas tree in 1974 when two of his boys went off to war, vowing not to take it down until all six children came home for Christmas.

The same tree is still standing in his living room, needles intact. Olson, 89, calls his 40-year-old tree ``supernatural.''

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Antigo Firemen enjoy working on Christmas Submitted: 12/25/2014

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ANTIGO - Many people spend Christmas away from work and with their families, but some have to work on the holidays to keep people safe.

Fireman may have to work on Christmas, but they don't seem to complain.

"This is like the holiday I mean for us we don't have to do much," said Antigo Fireman and Paramedic Brian Baginski. "There ain't very much open to inspect or do inspections. Basically it's just a day when we get calls we go on, we do our normal duties around the station."

Fireman have very important jobs but when they're on duty and not on a call they get to sit back, relax, recline, and watch Christmas movies.

"What did we start with? I forgot the first one but the second one was the Christmas story," said Antigo Fireman and Paramedic Brett Hefty.

Baginski enjoys working on Christmas because as a fireman he can help people on the holiday.

"I love my job and I enjoy helping people out, holidays you know some of the elderly people are lonely and usually that is most of our calls," Baginski said. "People are lonely and they need someone to call to."

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Rhinelander Lions Club gives free dinners Christmas Day Submitted: 12/25/2014

RHINELANDER - A local Lions Club hosted a free Christmas dinner Thursday.

The Rhinelander Lions Club has been putting on the dinner for about 30 years. The club starts preparing the dinner in November with help from Trigs.

"They deliver their stuff to us on Christmas Eve here," said Christmas Not Alone Co-Chairman Thomas O'Rourke. "They bake their turkeys for us in their bakery. That's a big help because this year we baked 30 20lbs turkeys."

More than 180 people ate at the Rhinelander Armory Thursday. They also delivered more than 117 meals to people who couldn't leave their house.

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