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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
Wisconsin mourning dove season to begin Sept. 1Submitted: 08/28/2014

MADISON - Wisconsin wildlife officials are reminding hunters that the state's new extended mourning dove season will begin next week.

Hunters will be allowed to kill the state's official peace symbol from Sept. 1 through Nov. 29. That's 20 days longer than previous seasons.

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Sheriff's office warns of IRS phone scamSubmitted: 08/28/2014

VILAS COUNTY - The Vilas County Sheriff's Office wants to warn people of a phone scam.

People in the area have reported getting calls from people saying they're officers or special agents with the IRS.

The scammer asks for a named person living at the home.

The caller then says the person owes money to the IRS and must pay immediately.

The scammer may also threaten to arrest or prosecute the victim.

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Kwik Trip opens in RhinelanderSubmitted: 08/28/2014

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RHINELANDER - You can find a new option for coffee, gas and groceries in the Northwoods.

Kwik Trip opened its doors in Rhinelander.

It's a family-owned gas station and convenience store chain out of LaCrosse.

There are 420 locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

The newest location in Rhinelander will bring 30 jobs to the area.

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Wisconsin faces $281 million budget shortfallSubmitted: 08/28/2014

MADISON - Wisconsin tax collections are more than $281 million short of estimates, a drop that could require the Legislature to take action to keep the budget in balance.

The state Department of Revenue on Thursday released the figures for the fiscal year that ended in June. Those figures show the state collected $281.2 million less than was anticipated by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau in January.

That is nearly 2 percent less than anticipated.

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Free school meals for all Lac du Flambeau Public School students this yearSubmitted: 08/28/2014

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - All students at the Lac du Flambeau Public School will get breakfast and lunch for free this year. A federal program will reimburse the school for all free meals given to students.

The program is called the Community Eligibility Provision. It's part of the 2010 Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act. Schools can participate in the Community Eligibility Provision if they have a high poverty rate.

90% of Lac du Flambeau Public School students already got free meals last year. 23 students needed to pay a reduced price and 25 needed to pay full price.

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White House: Obama to be in Milwaukee on Labor DaySubmitted: 08/28/2014

- The White House says President Barack Obama will travel to Milwaukee on Monday to speak at a Labor Day event. It gave no specifics about the event.

A spokesman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said she will attend Laborfest on Monday. Burke won't take the stage with President Obama.

Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki says it is not appropriate for Burke to speak at the rally Obama is attending because it is an official White House event and not a campaign rally. Zepecki says Burke has invited Obama to return for a campaign event before the election and is optimistic that will happen.

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Students help incoming freshmen feel comfortable about starting high schoolSubmitted: 08/28/2014

RHINELANDER - Starting high school can be scary for incoming freshmen. One Northwoods high school wanted to help freshman before they start school.

Rhinelander High School held their freshman orientation Thursday. New students got the chance to do team building, get their Chromebooks and tour the school.

Juniors and seniors were there to help the freshmen.

"I think it helps them feel a little bit more comfortable with the high school surroundings," says Junior Emily Ditzler. "You know, walking in on the first day of high school you're not sure where to go. But orientation helps them know exactly where their classes are 'cause they get their schedules right now, and they can become familiar with the teachers and with their homerooms."

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