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NEWS STORIES

Northwoods Spotlight: Record Vintage crowd; 20K expected for DerbySubmitted: 01/16/2013
Story By Joe Dufek


EAGLE RIVER - Last weekend was the first of two world championship snowmobile races in Eagle River.
Racers took us back in time, hopping on sleds at least a quarter-century old.

The Vintage Snowmobile Championships showed drivers racing on sleds which were made before 1985. Several Northwoods racers took the checkered flag on the final day of action. Including Jeff Stoxen of Rhinelander - winning in the 440 Sport Mod. Racing these old machines is a thrill.

"It's been getting bigger, and bigger," says Jeff Stoxen of Rhinelander - one of the vintage racers. "Everybody is one big family for vintage. Everyone helps everybody out."


A record 7,000 fans watched the Vintage races here at Eagle River Derby Track. Over 20,000 are expected for this weekend's World Championship Derby.

Derby track owner Chuck Decker adds, "the big news is the $60,000 prize to the World Champion this year. Just the one class alone is going to pay out $90,000."

Last year's defending champion Nick Van Strydonk will return to defend his crown. The Tomahawk racer is excited to be racing with the event celebrating it's 50th year.

Several past champions will be honored on Friday night. Time trials get underway Thursday. The World Championship is set for 3pm Sunday afternoon.

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PARK FALLS - Kelly Meredith's paint-splattered uniform and face tell us what she does.  But the Butternut muralist prefers to think of her job as a historian.

"Those stories need to go out to the rest of us," Meredith said.

Brush stroke by brush stroke, Meredith went to work this spring, painting the uniforms and faces of Northwoods World War II veterans and bringing their stories back to life.

"They weren't gods and heroes," Meredith said. "They're ordinary people who overcame their fear and the courage and dignity to basically save the world."

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MADISON/TOMAHAWK - It may come as a surprise, but fishermen, hunters, or hikers can't legally cross most railroad tracks in Wisconsin.

That's even if the rail line splits their own property. Walking across tracks is only allowed on the thousands of crossings specifically approved by the state.

Some legislative Republicans think that doesn't make sense. They added a proposal to the state budget on Thursday to allow people to cross tracks on foot. Making a crossing would no longer be considered trespassing, and railroad companies would have no power to prevent it.

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NORTHWOODS - As people start getting ready for the 4th of July, many will camp here in the Northwoods.

The DNR expects almost 3,000 people to camp in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest this weekend.

The DNR thinks this will be their best 4th of July yet, with almost all of the campgrounds full.
People say there's nothing better than camping in the Northwoods.

"We like to come up to the Northwoods because it's beautiful and the water's crystal clear," said Prairie Farm resident Peter Fetting. "The other campers are always really friendly, and I've been coming up here for 30 years. This is my 30th year coming up here to camp."

People already got a head start heading out to beaches and on the water Friday. Campers say more people should come enjoy the woods this summer.

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NORTHWOODS - Many people travel to the Northwoods for the fourth of July. 

That means there can be a lot of extra traffic.

Wisconsin State Patrol makes sure it's ready for the holiday.

It has more people staffed on busy holiday weekends.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - A cracked lime kiln has caused a fire that damaged the Verso paper mill in Wisconsin Rapids.

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MADISON - Wisconsin could force drunk drivers to pay in more money to support SafeRide Home programs in the state.

Earlier this week, we told you the state was planning to kick in less money to support county SafeRide Home programs. The program offers free taxi rides home from bars.

A proposal passed by a Capitol committee on Thursday night could help SafeRide Home.

It would add a $50 surcharge to some OWI offenses. That money would go back into SafeRide Home programs.

The proposal is part of the state budget, which has yet to become law.

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ANTIGO - Low temperatures this time of year can cause problems for some farmers. One Northwoods strawberry farm had to close down for a few hours earlier this week because the berries aren't ripening as fast as normal.

"The cold days this week made the berries ripen much slower than normal," says Andy Merry, owner of Merry's Berries.

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