PLOVER - The rush to pick the potato crop has hit central Wisconsin.
A rainy day couldn't spoil Tuesday's harvest.
But beyond just digging those spuds, we explore the life of a potato - all the way to your plate.
It's the peak of potato harvest season in central Wisconsin, and Gagas Farms near Stevens Point is in full swing.
"Some of our neighbors are claiming really fantastic yields. Some of our fields were, and others have been kind of average. Quality has been pretty good this year," says Cliff Gagas of Gagas Farms.
Cliff Gagas has been growing potatoes here as long as he can remember.
His farm produces several different varieties.
Today they were harvesting Burbanks, which will eventually go to McCain Foods near Plover.
They'll get there after being sorted, the rocks taken out, and put on one of as many as 60 truckloads in a day.
Those Burbank potatoes from Gagas come to McCain.
"It goes through a washing, a scrubbing, a peeling, then a preheating, which takes the potato to a temperature where it's able to be cut. We then cut the potato into strips, which in turn is French fries, we cook them, fry them, freeze them, and then package them and send them out as a delicious McCain product," says Dan Snyder of McCain.
Those potatoes don't come from just anywhere - it's mostly local.
"We get 70 percent of our raw product from the central sands area, which is about a 30 mile radius from the Plover facility," he says.
After McCain's packages the products, it heads to supermarkets all over the region - and country.
Shopping at the store, you can get anything from hash browns to crinkle cut fries to potato wedges for your table at home.
Big bucks to expand nutrition, physical education in Wisconsin schools
WISCONSIN - Seven Wisconsin school districts have been awarded a total of $3.2 million in federal grants to help them expand their nutrition and physical-education programs.
To qualify, the districts have to implement programs that teach students healthy eating habits and good nutrition. They also have to make sure kids have access to certain physical fitness activities, which could include fitness assessments or developing certain team skills.
The largest grant is going to the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, which will receive about $850,000. The Mukwonago Area School District and Pittsville School District will each get about $445,000.
WISCONSIN - Six out of ten people with Alzheimers and dementia will wander off at some point.
That puts them at risk for injury or even death. And not all of those people are found quickly enough.
That's why Governor Scott Walker recently signed a bill that will help find them quicker.
The Wisconsin Silver Alert bill will create a program that works like an Amber Alert for missing children.
An effective alert system is crucial to the Northwoods because of the growing aging population and severe winter weather.
For advocacy groups like the Alzheimer's Association, the new bill is a huge victory.
"Family caregivers of people who have Alzheimers, or another type of dementia are worried and concerned about whether or not their loved one might wander away from home," said Julie St. Pierre, an outreach specialist for the Alzheimer's Association in Rhinelander. "It's very important that those caregivers out there know that there are important resources that can help keep their loved ones safe in the home. The Silver Alert is certainly now a part of that safety net that we have in place."
The Alzheimer's Association was just one group that worked closely with the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network to get this bill passed.
A coordinator for the network believes this system will save lives.
"This bill really advances [us] one step forward in addressing the needs of an aging population. And that's extremely important in the Northwestern part of Wisconsin," said Joe Libowsky, coordinator for the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network. "In the Rhinelander area, where you have fairly severe weather, it makes the urgency of getting out the alert as quickly as possible even more important."
The alert system will heavily involve all 500 law enforcement agencies in the state to respond to at-risk adults who are reported missing.
Wisconsin joins 30 other states with a silver alert system.
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