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Community Rallies Support for Local FamilySubmitted: 01/26/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

Community Rallies Support for Local Family
RHINELANDER - A girl from Rhinelander battling cancer got a big dose of community love today. Mayor Dick Johns proclaimed today Leanna Kossack day.

Seventeen-year-old Leanna suffers from a rare cancer that doctors are struggling to find an appropriate treatment for.

Today, friends, family, even strangers came out to show their support.

The day started with a bake sale. Then supporters held a rally and walked through downtown Rhinelander to Bugsy's bar to kick off a pub crawl.

Nine downtown pubs are participating with drink specials and raffles.

Organizers say the turnout was overwhelming.

"To support this wonderful girl that's so courageous and so brave, the small community of Rhinelander, our small business owners, tavern owners that have opened up their establishments and allowed the community to come together is an unbelievable feat," says family friend Gayle Wilmot.

"There's a lot of people here to support her. I think she's a really strong person and I'm glad she's here today. I'm so thankful for everybody who's here today, and I think she's very thankful too," says Leanna's sister Alyssa.

There's still time to support Leanna tonight. Some downtown bars are participating in a drink special until midnight tonight. You can get half price drinks with the purchase of a wristband.

The money raised goes toward Leanna's medical expenses, and a foundation to help other kids with cancer.

Participating bars until midnight are:
Quade's Place, Knight Gallery, Big Daddy's, Bugsy's, Buckethead's, Robbie's Place and Sunset Junction.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - 50,000 twinkling lights will bring holiday cheer Hodag Park in Rhinelander Thursday night.

"Lights of the Northwoods" is a drive-through light show packed with more than 32 individual displays.

Vice President Shawn Hill says he's excited and a bit nervous to officially share the display tonight.

Those nerves have nothing to do with the amount of snow we got.

"I was thinking as the snow was flying and I was looking at the lights I'm like, This is going to be like one of

those Hallmark movies we watch all the time!' It's really going to be pretty on the lake here with the lights

shining off the snow," says Hill.


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MERRILL - For 32 years Battalion Chief Mike Drury walked into the Merrill Fire Department ready to save lives. Friday he walked out of the department for the last time to start the new phase of his life.
"It goes fast it goes really fast," said Drury.
Drury was about 18 -years -old when he walked into the Merrill Fire Department for the first time.
"When you're 18, 19,20 years old and you're looking at 50 something years old you think you're never going to get there," said Drury. 

Drury is one of 184 firefighters to ever work full time with the city of Merrill.
"As a firefighter they spend a lot of time at the fire house so they miss a lot of things," said Drury's daughter Cassi.
After 32 years of missing birthdays, holidays and family time Drury was ready for a change.
"I realized I had enough this is a young man's job," said Drury.
Friday afternoon Drury said goodbye to a room of men who merged and became family.
"Not having that is a little scary I know they'll always be our family but it's hard to leave," said Cassi.
Cassi watched her dad rush off to help his community since the day she was born.
"It's scary because you hear about the times things don't go right or the times fire fighters don't come home," said Cassi. 

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WABENO, CRANDON - Donna Ver Voort calls her mansion "the most beautiful property in Forest County."

The Wabeno home, built in 1908 by lumber baron M. J. Quinlan, is now Ver Voort's Crystal Bell Inn and Spa. Ver Voort has owned the bed and breakfast for 21 years.

"Even on the outside, it looks large, but when you come in, you are blown away," Ver Voort said of its 6,500 square feet.

Now, Ver Voort wants to show off her 27 rooms, three fireplaces, and third-floor ballroom which used to be a basketball court. For the next week, Ver Voort will give five-dollar tours of the mansion.

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander couple thought they were empty nesters. However, an experience volunteering made them open their doors back up to kids who need a temporary home.
The Zoerb's adult children moved out years ago. But at any moment they could get a call from social services that make them bring out their parenting skills for another round.
Rick and Danielle Zoerb work together as realtors putting people in homes that are the perfect fit. However, the husband and wife know their home can be a good fit for others too.
"There's no reason for kids to have to fall through the cracks," said Dani.
Rick met a child at a mentorship program a few years ago. It was a meeting that opened a new door for him and his wife.
"There was no hesitation on our part when we felt the situation was deteriorating for this young boy," said Rick. 

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MERRILL - Taxpayers will need to decide if they want to pay more to support the Merrill Area Public Schools.

Wednesday, the school board voted in favor of a four-year referendum for $2.5 million dollars

The district faces a nearly $2 million operating deficit for next school year.

It has used savings to keep the school running for the last few years.

The priorities of the referendum will be enhancing the school's fab lab, addressing maintenance issues, and attracting and retaining high quality teachers and administration.

Wednesday the school board also reviewed budget options if the referendum does not pass.

The referendum question will be on the April ballot. 


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RHINELANDER - It feels a little better about needing to shovel, blow and plow driveways when people know everyone else needs to, too.

Newswatch 12 found a few people around Rhinelander embracing the tasks Wednesday.

Bart Bartholomew has a motto when it comes to shoveling snow.

"Gotta get her done," said Bartholomew.

Bartholomew geared up Wednesday morning on Stevens Street in Rhinelander with not one, but two shovels.

"It usually takes 45 minutes with an average shovel, [but for] me, it only takes 25 if you have two shovels," said Bart with a laugh.

Rhinelander saw around seven inches of snow Wednesday.

The season's first big snowfall brought many people outside to scrape, shovel and blow their driveways.

"I got [a lot to] do over there," said Mathew Bozek.

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EAGLE RIVER - Wednesday's snowfall might make you want to bundle up, but the sleigh horses in Eagle River love it.

It takes about two hours to get Rocking W Stables' horses ready for a day of sleigh rides.

Driver Karrie Dollar harnesses and hitches those horses every year.

It's not unusual for her to make friends with the people that go on the rides, but it's the horses she grows close to.

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