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NEWS STORIES

Central Wis. Man Gets Ten Years for Texting & Driving HomicideSubmitted: 11/12/2012
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

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RHINELANDER - A central Wisconsin man will spend a decade in prison for killing a man by texting and driving.

John French admitted to texting his girlfriend and speeding right before he ran a stop sign and slammed into two cars in 2010. He killed 32-year-old Robert Walker.

Today a Wood County Judge sentenced the 23-year-old to ten years in prison, and seven additional years of extended supervision.

The crash happened the same month Wisconsin's texting and driving law went into effect in 2010.

"You're not allowed to compose a text message or email message and send it. That's utilizing your fine motor skills of typing into a keyboard because it's taking your attention away from operating that motor vehicle," says Lt. Lloyd Gauthier, from the Oneida County Sheriff's Department.

It can be tough to enforce this law because it's hard to see exactly what people are doing. There are plenty of complexities to it too. You can't type or send a text, but the law doesn't keep you from reading one or even going on the internet. But the law still makes room for that.

"It's specifically sub-categorized as inattentive driving. So if we're investigating a motor vehicle accident and the driver is telling us that they were reading a text message on their phone and not focusing on driving, yes, the appropriate citation would be inattentive driving," says Lt. Gauthier.

The fine for inattentive driving is the same as texting and driving, up to $400. In both cases you can lose four points on your license. Still, two penalties that are much better than taking someone's life.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Merrill's old DNR Ranger Station will become brew pub Submitted: 10/21/2014

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MERRILL - The old DNR ranger station in Merrill will become a brew pub.

The city of Merrill sold the building to a company that plans on opening up the pub within the next year. The company plans on eventually becoming a microbrewery.

The building was built in 1940. The DNR opened up a new ranger station in a different spot in Merrill a few years ago.

"When the ranger station rebuilt this building was turned back to the city and we've used it for a couple of years now since we've had it for the park and recreations summer program," says Merrill City Administrator David Johnson. "We decided to sell the property when there was an interest shown in turning it into a business."

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Rennes Health and Rehab Center to expandSubmitted: 10/21/2014

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RHINELANDER - The Rennes Health and Rehab Center in Rhinelander will add an extra 10,000 square feet to its facility.

The center hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday. It offers rehabilitative and skilled nursing services.

Right now the facility has 72 beds.

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Nicolet's College Visit Night gives people more information about schoolSubmitted: 10/21/2014

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RHINELANDER - People who want to learn more about going to school at Nicolet College can go to College Visit Night. College Visit Night will be held from 5-7pm on Tuesday.

The event will give people an idea of what programs the college offers. It's taking place at the University Transfer Center.

There will be admissions information, campus tours and financial aid information.

"We open this opportunity up for students to come in and make an informed choice about their educational path. We work with non-traditional students coming in, high school students, parents, support whoever wants to come and see what we're all about at Nicolet," says Nicolet College Career Coach Kelly Anunson.

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Thousands of Walker-related emails releasedSubmitted: 10/21/2014

MADISON - Thousands of emails prosecutors collected during the first secret investigation into Gov. Scott Walker's former aides and associates when he was county executive have been released.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele's office on Tuesday made public the nearly 16,000 emails and attachments that prosecutors seized from county and personal computers.

The investigation ended in 2013 with six of Walker's aides and associates convicted on charges ranging from theft to misconduct in office.

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Free meals helps fight hunger in northcentral Wisconsin Submitted: 10/21/2014

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WAUSAU - Nearly a billion people in the world don't eat enough to stay healthy. People in Wisconsin do much better than that, but too many still struggle with hunger.

One church in northcentral Wisconsin wants to help more people understand the hunger issue.

St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Wausau serves hot meals every Tuesday. They've been doing this for about a decade. More than 30 people had a hot meal Tuesday. They don't ask for an ID or any type of income verification.

They started this because they saw more people ending up on the streets.

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Promoting feed beets in Wisconsin Submitted: 10/21/2014

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BRYANT - Only one farm in all of Wisconsin grows sugar beets.

Rine Ridge Farms is northeast of Antigo, in Bryant. The farm hopes more farmers will catch on to alternative dairy feed.

"They're 80% digestible where corn is usually only around 40% digestible. They're high in sugar they're 20% sugar," said Dan Rine of Rine Ridge Farms.

Beets are easy to grow in our neck of the woods.

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Wisconsin DNR encourages composting Submitted: 10/21/2014

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wants homeowners to compost or mulch fallen leaves. This will help keep the leaves out of landfills and lower the chances of burning piles.

DNR leaders say composting means more room and landfill and less chance of stray sparks from burning piles that can start wildfires.

Fewer burning piles will also helps maintain a high level of air quality.
potassium.

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