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NEWS STORIES

Take a Tour of the Oconto Marijuana Grow SiteSubmitted: 09/06/2012
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

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RHINELANDER - Last week we saw one of the biggest drug busts in state history. Agents found millions of dollars in marijuana in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near the border of Oconto and Langlade Counties.

The Feds have given clearance for the media to trek out to the site. Newswatch 12's Lyndsey Stemm was there today to bring you an inside look.

We headed into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to take a look at some of the sites where law enforcement cleared more than 8,000 marijuana plants last week.

A mile deep into the forest, we toured a few of the grow sites law enforcement raided last week. It's the third bust in three years; all reported by citizens. A fisherman spotted this one.

"There were marijuana plants six to eight feet tall right here," says Jeff Seefeldt, a Ranger with the US Forest Service.

In the last two busts the sites were fewer, and much larger. They were easier to see from far away. This one had 22 smaller sites. It wouldn't have been as easily seen from the air, so it seems the growers are paying attention. Add that to 1.5 million acres of forest land--- and few rangers to cover it-- it makes for a tough fight.

"People are going here, and going there, but still I can't cover 350,000 acres," says Seefeldt.

When asked if he thinks it's possible that there are sites just like this somewhere else, he said, "Very possible. I believe that."

Since people working on these large-scale don't typically leave, they end up in makeshift shelters like the one we saw on our trip. All the garbage that accumulates over the months they're here just ends up in big piles.

So why grow here in the Northwoods, where the growing season is so short?

"One of the reasons we think they're here is the abundant water supply. As you've seen with these sites we're right along a river. We have a lot of lakes and rivers in the Northwoods. It's really remote, it's easy to get away from people and not be found in these parts," says Suzanne Flory, a Public Affairs Officer for the US Forest Service.

What rangers most want people to know is it's dangerous to stick around if you stumble upon a grow site.

"If you see something unusual, especially from spring through summer when the growers would be on site, make sure you just leave real quietly. These people have been found to be armed and dangerous," says Flory.

Authorities say you don't need an up close look to know if something is wrong out there. When you're out in a remote area, and a large patch of land is cleared with other plants in their place, leave immediately and contact your local forestry department.

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Vilas Food Pantry needs helpSubmitted: 10/24/2014

EAGLE RIVER - A Northwoods food pantry could struggle to put food on their shelves this fall. Vilas Food Pantry volunteers need more donations and money to feed people in need, this includes more than 250 local families. This is the first time they've needed to ask the public for help in more than ten years.

"People get laid-off and they have needs," said Vilas Food Pantry Director Richard Short. "That's what we're here for, we want to make sure everyone knows that if they have a need, you're welcome to come."

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Wisconsin court won't reconsider voter ID caseSubmitted: 10/24/2014

MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court has refused to reconsider whether the state's voter photo identification law is unconstitutional.

Republicans passed the law in 2011. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the immigrant group Voces de la Frontera as well as the League of Women Voters challenged the mandate in separate lawsuits. The state Supreme Court concluded in July that the law is constitutional in both cases.

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Hulsey launches write-in candidacy for governorSubmitted: 10/24/2014

MADISON - Just 12 days before the election, state Representative Brett Hulsey says he is running for governor as an independent write-in candidate.

Hulsey lost the Democratic primary to Mary Burke, earning 16 percent of the vote.

Hulsey announced Thursday that he was mounting a last-minute write-in campaign, but if it appears the effort is helping Republican Governor Scott Walker, he will stop.

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DNR thinks registering deer online and by phone easier for huntersSubmitted: 10/24/2014

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WISCONSIN - The DNR will make changes to how people register deer. This year they're starting a program allowing hunters to register deer online or by phone.

Only some hunters will take part in the program. Next year it will be in full effect.

"Right now we're doing a pilot program in 2014, where there's 14,000 people who've been picked to practice this registration. And next year everybody will be able to either register by phone or on the internet. They will still have the opportunity to register at a station as long as there is a telephone or a computer for them," says DNR Conservation Warden Paul Hartrick.

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Nearly a century later, Goodman's Draxler honored with Purple HeartSubmitted: 10/24/2014

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GOODMAN - John Draxler deserves the respect and honor from the people of his hometown of Goodman, and all of northern Wisconsin.

He's always had it.

But on Friday, 96 years after his combat injuries during World War I, and 40 years after his death, it became tangible.

Draxler's family was presented with a Purple Heart.

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A local author launches first novel of a new seriesSubmitted: 10/24/2014

MINOCQUA - A new novel may catch your eye this weekend at a local bookstore. On the cover is a picture of girl by a Northwoods Lake. The book is titled "Exit Point" and is written by new author Alicia Sanftleben.

Sanftleben grew up and lives in the Minocqua area. Her novel focuses on a young girl who, after a near death experience, is forced to rethink her life's path.

The novel is the first part of a series of books. It follows the young girl's journey on her new life and efforts to save the world from destruction.

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Kids with disabilities tour local businesses, practice networking skillsSubmitted: 10/24/2014

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RHINELANDER - Kids with disabilities can sometimes have a difficult time finding a job.

Special education teachers at Rhinelander High School want to change that. They set up the "Amazing Race To Employment" for their students.

Students with disabilities went to different local businesses today. The race gave them a chance to ask managers questions about working at the business.

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