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Special Olympians Hit the Slopes on Granite PeakSubmitted: 01/20/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

Special Olympians Hit the Slopes on Granite Peak
WAUSAU - The weather didn't cooperate this weekend for the Special Olympics Wisconsin Winter Games in Wausau.

Three hundred athletes were expected for the event Saturday. The snowshoe and cross country ski events had to be canceled due to lack of snow.

But 35 competitors still got to hit the slopes at Granite Peak for snowboarding and alpine skiing.

One of the snowboarders competing Saturday may have been even more excited for another event coming up.

Dana Shilts from Neillsville, Wisconsin will travel to South Korea to compete for Team USA in the Special Olympics.

"This is my first time competing in a world games. I'm very excited. My number one supporter is coming with me, so I'm very excited," says Shilts, who is taking her mother with her to South Korea.

Three Wisconsin athletes made Team USA. Jason Suino from Hayward will compete in cross country, and Alexander Guild from De Pere will snowshoe.

Organizers say these athletes are what make volunteering worth it.

"The athletes is Special Olympics represent probably the truest example of sports; people who are in this just for the pure enjoyment of being in sports. We don't have the types of sportsmanship issues that a lot of other organizations have. It's just when you see the difference it makes in an athlete's life; not just the joy of competing and getting an award, but what they're able to accomplish, and what they're able to do," says Bob Whitehead.

Team USA leaves for South Korea this Wednesday.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - One Rhinelander woman may see a 10-year-old bucket list wish come true.

On Monday the Rhinelander Parks Committee supported having a dog park at Shepard Park in Rhinelander. 

For 10 years Tina Werres has been advocating to get support for a dog park in Rhinelander.

The decision is now left to the Rhinelander City Council, which is scheduled to vote on June 12.

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TOMAHAWK - Tomahawk Police Chief Al Elvins takes pride in his department's connection to the community. 

And many members of the community clearly feel the same way.

Augie's Collectibles owner Richard "Augie" Augustine donated eight ballistic helmets and a shield to the Tomahawk Police Department.

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- A Nicolet College club provides a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and allies to socialize and discuss personal issues related to gender and sexual orientation.

However, outside of the campus, there is no supportive group in the Northwoods. Now, the Rainbow Hodags Club is helping to get a community LGBT group started. Club member Don Schindhelm says he wishes a club like this existed years ago.

"I really felt like I didn't know anyone else who was gay or lesbian. It was frowned upon, so I suppressed it for most of my life. That's why I struggled with it for so many years," said Schindhelm.

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RHINELANDER - Most people stop by Rhinelander's chamber of commerce to get their picture taken with the giant hodag out front. Visitors to the chamber can also stock up on Rhinelander trinkets and gear.

Now, the chamber has decided to downsize its store in order to let someone else set up shop. 

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 05/23/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll show you a training course for Taylor County deputies and courthouse staff on how to respond with and active shooter in the courthouse.

We'll take you live to Shepard Park in Rhinelander, the site some residents hope will have sections set aside for a dog park. Monday the Parks committed approved the proposal.

And a Nicolet College club provides a safe space for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender students and allies to discuss personal issues. Now they want to get a group started outside the campus. We talk to a member of the Rainbow Hodags Club about his experiences with the group.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MINOCQUA - In 2006, more than 40,000 pets died in fires due to smoke inhalation. 

That number has gone down, in large part thanks to oxygen masks designed for animals. 

The Minocqua Fire Department got its own set of pet oxygen masks Tuesday, courtesy of Invisible Fence of Northern Wisconsin.

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VILAS COUNTY - Many people love sightseeing on two wheels throughout the Northwoods. Now, you can get a prize for doing it.

"Bike the Heart" encourages riders to explore the different communities along the Heart of Vilas County Trail.

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