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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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 IN OTHER NEWS
Truck supply causing challenges getting wood to mills, upfront costs & recession could explain supplySubmitted: 12/19/2014

LAONA - Northwoods loggers describe business right now as great. KLP Logging and Trucking Owner Kevin Kramer says it's a golden time to get into the business. The Laona business owner says timber prices are high, so is demand, but he's facing issues getting logs to the mills.

Some loggers can't find enough trucks to get their logs from the Northwoods to paper mills. Kramer would love more trucks in the area.

He believes it started in the early 2000s. Kramer says a number of trucks went to the southern U.S. to cash in, and clean up hurricane damage. He says many didn't return.

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Students experience spirit of giving at Santa's WorkshopSubmitted: 12/19/2014

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Santa's Workshop helps kids experience what it means to give to others.

Parents and teachers put on the event at Sugar Camp Elementary School every year.

Children in pre-k through 6 grade write out a Christmas shopping list for their family.

They picked out their gifts on Friday.

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Vilas Co. Salvation Army could still use some toys for Northwoods kidsSubmitted: 12/19/2014

EAGLE RIVER - You can help families in need give their kids a special Christmas Day.

The Vilas County Salvation Army is still looking for toys to give to families that need some help this holiday season.

"It's always the 8 to 12-year-olds for boys and for girls. So LEGOs, definitely, are a big hit, action figures. For the girls, you know, arts and crafts kind of things, hair dryers, curling irons, any of those kinds of things," said Vilas County Salvation Army Volunteer Kathy Holtorp.

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Camp 10 Ski and Snowboard looking for new Ski Patrol membersSubmitted: 12/19/2014

RHINELANDER - When it comes to safety on the slopes- you can turn to the National Ski Patrol.

They're on hundreds of ski hills across the country.

Camp 10 in Rhinelander is one of those hills.

The patrol wants you to consider joining.

The ski patrol dedicates its time to keeping skiers safe.

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Leadership Oneida Co. candidates to provide help, new ideas for local non-profitsSubmitted: 12/19/2014

RHINELANDER - Northwoods non-profits may struggle to find volunteers, funding, and to stay afloat. A group of people in Oneida County wants to get more involved.

Leadership Oneida County pairs those groups with those people. On Thursday, those groups met to start working towards a common goal.

"We were very pleased to have the group help us and we're anticipating great results again," said Rhinelander Area Food Pantry Executive Director Guy Hansen.

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Wisconsin may see the fewest number of traffic deaths since World War IISubmitted: 12/19/2014

MADISON - Wisconsin may see the fewest number of traffic deaths since World War II.

Traffic fatalities continue to decline across Wisconsin.

As of Wednesday, Wisconsin Department of Transportation Data showed there have been 480 road deaths so far this year.

That's compared to 527 in 2013.

The director of the transportation department's bureau of safety hopes there will be less than 500 fatalities by the end of the year.

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Flood Warning at Keshena may be extended againSubmitted: 12/19/2014

KESHENA - A flood warning effecting south central Menominee county could be extended again.

The warning for the Keshena area is due to run out at 10:00 p.m. Friday.

The warning will be extended if high water continues to be a problem.

The National Weather Service issued the warning after ice jams backed up water on the Wolf River.

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