President Obama Makes Emotional Plea for Gun ReformSubmitted: 02/12/2013
Story By Lex Gray

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Several weeks ago, you saw President Obama roll out an aggressively progressive agenda during his inauguration speech.

Tonight, the nation watched to see if that theme would continue in the State of the Union address.

At first, the president rehashed many of the topics that dominated his campaign.
He talked health care, tax code and immigration reform.

He talked about bringing jobs back home, improving education, and moving toward sustainable energy.

But just after the one hour mark, the President seemed to change his tone.

That's because there's been one big change since he was reelected - the Sandy Hook shooting.

The President called on the House and Senate to at least vote on his gun reform proposals.

Gabby Giffords was in the audience, along with more than two dozen others affected by gun violence.

"Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote," said the President, continuing on with other examples of gun violence. "They deserve a simple vote."

He said the country has debated gun violence before, but "this time it's different."

He called for "common sense reform," in particular requiring background checks for individuals who want to buy guns.

He also talked about police chiefs working together to get high capacity magazines off the streets.

In the audience was Oak Creek shooting survivor Lieutenant Brian Murphy.

"Brian was the first to arrive, and he did not consider his own safety," the President said. "He fought back until help arrived, and ordered his fellow officers to protect the safety of the fellow Americans worshiping inside, even as he lay bleeding from 12 bullet wounds."

The President also said 34,000 troops will be home by the end of this year, and the war in Afghanistan will be finished by the end of next year.

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MERRILL - This weekend Northcentral Technical College hosted its fourth annual Fire and EMS University for firefighters across Wisconsin.

It provides training on firefighting and EMS techniques at the Public Safety Center of Excellence in Merrill.

In a simulation training exercise, firefighters have their hoods covering their face so they couldn't see anything when they entered a basement. They had to feel a fire hose and use teamwork to get around and save a dummy.

Firefighters from all over Wisconsin can come to the all-day event. They came to refresh their skills, teach and learn new techniques.

"We put out some classes that are very interesting and not run every day and if it applies to their department they'll send people," said Dean of the Public Safety Division of Northcentral Technical College Doug Jennings.

The school keeps adding other training tools as well. Just this year they added more training features, such as a simulator that allows law enforcement to practice driving trucks, squad cars and EMS vehicles.

On Saturday the students also trained with the aerial ladder.

"We are the only fire department in Lincoln County with an aerial ladder," said Merrill Fire Chief Dave Savone. "And so most of our firefighters have to operate our aerial ladder. And so we felt this truck operation aerial ladder operations is a great class for them to come and see."

UST Fire Apparatus brought a new aerial ladder truck for the students to practice with, and teachers from southern Wisconsin and St. Louis, Mo., also came to help coach.

Firefighters say they want to constantly re-educate themselves.

"It's great to get the extra practice," said Dean Johnson from the Town of Wausau Fire Department.

Northcentral Technical College also offers semester schedule curricula for law enforcement and fire science. 

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MERRILL - Merrill residents might have heard a lot of music in town today.

Merrill High School hosted the Merrill Marching Invitational. Three high school marching bands took over the football field at Merrill High School Sunday.

Antigo, D.C. Everest, and Merrill high schools all showcased their musical creativity.

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MILWAUKEE - A published report says unauthorized improvements have been made to a footpath on state land that a donor to Gov. Scott Walker has been trying to buy.

A spokesman for business executive Elizabeth Uihlein acknowledged that workers at her adjoining property may have cleaned up the trail slightly.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1Z18WU8 ) reports those who have seen the trail say the improvements are significant.

Uihlein is seeking to buy 1.75 acres along Rest Lake, where the footpath is located. But a tentative deal with the Department of Natural Resources was put on hold after critics raised questions.

A DNR spokesman says the agency inspected the site on Thursday and found an "established trail." He declined to say whether the department had talked to Uihlein or her representatives.

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RHINELANDER - Harvest Hoedown started Saturday at noon at the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander.

The event featured a hay maze, horse-drawn carriage rides, food, and live music all afternoon.

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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

Volunteers at Pointe Basse recreated a historical camp that portrayed the lives of people from the 1700s and early 1800s.

Volunteers from all across the U.S. had a piece of history to share.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

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ACROSS WISCONSIN - Abbotsford 62, Thorp 6

Algoma 24, Sturgeon Bay 8

Almond-Bancroft 61, Tigerton/Marion 6

Amherst 56, Manawa 6

Antigo 42, Lakeland 28

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