NEWS STORIES

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

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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.

Story By: Lyndsey Stemm

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Celebrating Easter Sunday traditionally Submitted: 04/20/2014

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RHINELANDER - People celebrate Easter Sunday in different forms of fashion.

Some might have Easter breakfast or have their own Easter Egg Hunt.

Others might take a traditional route and head to church.

Newswatch 12’s Shardaa Gray found out how one church celebrates Easter Sunday.

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Wisconsin DNR assessing winter deer killSubmitted: 04/20/2014

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MADISON - Wisconsin wildlife officials are using road-kill and radio-tracking data to assess the harsh winter's effect on the state's deer herd.

Department of Natural Resources staffers are looking for 10 carcasses in every county so they can check a number of biological signs, such as fat stores and pregnancy.

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Support for survivors of suicide Submitted: 04/20/2014

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RHINELANDER - Losing someone to suicide can be difficult.

But it's a reality some families in the Northwoods have to live with.

The suicide rate in north-central Wisconsin has gone up in 2013.

Suicide experts believe high levels of depression and alcoholism in Wisconsin contribute to more suicides.

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First indoor Easter egg huntSubmitted: 04/20/2014

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MANITOWISH WATERS - Most Easter egg hunts take place outside.

But with the recent snow fall, some were in danger of being canceled.

One Northwoods camp found an alternative to keep the festivities going.

Camp Jorn YMCA in Manitowish Waters hosted their first Easter Egg Hunt.

More than 30 kids ran around inside of the camp.

Camp Jorn daycamp director says they got the idea from Boulder Junction's Easter Egg Hunt.

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Easter weekend brings in more businessSubmitted: 04/19/2014

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MINOCQUA - Easter weekend normally brings in a lot of tourist.

For business owners, that means an increase in sales.

The Pine Cone Boutique in Minocqua says they've seen an increase in customers.

They're right off Highway 51 North, right next to McDonald's.

One of the sales associates just started working there.

But she could tell that business picked up quickly.

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34 Acres burned in Township of Cary Submitted: 04/19/2014

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WOOD COUNTY - Pittsville fire fighters put out a field fire in the Township of Cary Saturday.

It burned more than 34 acres.

Pittsville Fire chief says it happened around 1:55 Saturday afternoon.

Rock and Vesper fire departments also helped put the fire out.

The DNR also helped by using a patrol plane to spot the fire.

The chief says it started after debris traveled from a burn barrel.

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Celebrating Easter in the snowSubmitted: 04/19/2014

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RHINELANDER - Snow on the ground can’t keep the Easter bunny away in the Northwoods.

Hundreds of kids and their families searched for Easter eggs in Rhinelander on Saturday.

“Even with the snow and the slush, they love running around and getting out there and getting the eggs,”said Nicole Polkowski, the Rhinelander Area Optimist Club president.

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