Highway 51 Construction Has Minocqua Community UpsetSubmitted: 02/25/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray

MINOCQUA - Plans for a new highway in Minocqua have been in affect for a while now.

The Department of transportation is hoping that highway 51 will have some new changes that will affect the community in a positive way.

"When we're done we'll have all new pavement. A lot safer. We'll have bicycles facilities on the road and bicycle facilities off the road," said DOT Project Development Supevisor, Robin Stafford.

"We've put sidewalks on both sides so pedestrians will be easier getting up and down the highway. There will be a lot of benefits to the new project."

But Minocqua business owners don't see it that way.

"Being as if there's really only one main artery from south going through the Northwoods in this area and it's right out here in our front door, it's really going to have a negative impact." said Kurts Island Sports Shop Owner, Kurt Justice.

In fact some owners think the process and the finished product will take away some of their profits.

But the DOT seems to be locked in.

"Unfortunately with such a big project like this you can't really appease to everyone," Stafford said.

"And so there is some people up there who aren't happy, but again overall I think the community and the traveling public will be very happy with the product when it's done."

Even though it has been set in stone for Minocqua, residents are hoping DOT will take their opinions into consideration.

"The Minocqua project is scheduled to start this spring and we're hoping that the DOT still has room for modification and changes based on some of the discussions that we had at town hall last Friday." said 34th District Assembly Representative Rob Swearingen.

Now projects in other towns such as Arbor Vitae, Hazelhurst and Woodruff have not been finalized.

Swearingen suggests that if you want to voice your opinions on the project, you should contact your town board and chairman.

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WAUSAU - This has been Wisconsin's deadliest gun-deer season in the past five years, with two shooting fatalities already recorded.

Daily Herald Media reports (http://wdhne.ws/1HvNth3 ) that the two fatalities brought to an end a three-year series of seasons that had been free of firearm deaths. Four other hunters also have been wounded.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, hunters violated some of the fundamental rules of gun safety in all the incidents.

A man was killed last Sunday in Columbia County when he was shot while passing a loaded rifle to a companion in a tree stand. Wearing mittens, she grabbed the gun near the trigger and it went off. On Monday, a hunter in Waushara County was killed by a stray bullet.

The nine-day season runs through Sunday.

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TOMAH - The Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center says it has adopted another plan to improve patient care.

The La Crosse Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1QMsDMZ) that Friday's release of the "100-day plan" comes almost 11 months after media reports that veterans at the center were prescribed excessive doses of opioid pain-killers and that employees who spoke out faced retaliation from top officials.

The plan, which follows a 30-day plan announced in May, outlines steps for improving access to care, employee engagement and restoring trust.

Among other things, it calls for recruitment of psychiatric staff, employee forums and listening sessions, and opening an employee wellness center.

Several Tomah VA officials including former Director Mario Desanctis and former Chief of Staff David Houlihan have been fired since the problems emerged early this year.

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APPLETON - The U.S. Marshals Service says a convicted sex offender who was wanted for violating the terms of his release has been arrested in Appleton.

The agency says 63-year-old L.C. Streeter, of Milwaukee, was previously convicted of four separate sexual assaults from 1976 to 1985. Wisconsin committed him as a sexually violent person in 1996, and he remained in treatment until his release in 2013 under intensive supervision.

The service said in a statement that he cut off his GPS and electronic monitoring bracelets and fled supervision on Monday, resulting in a warrant for his arrest. Federal marshals and Appleton police arrested him without incident in Appleton on Friday.

Kevin Carr, the U.S. marshal for eastern Wisconsin, says Streeter was "an absolute danger to the community based upon his past convictions."

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MOUNT HOREB - A southern Wisconsin school district has cancelled plans for elementary school students to read a children's book about a transgender girl after a group threatened to sue.

The Capital Times reports (http://bit.ly/1TadnaG ) that the Mount Horeb Area School District released a statement saying it won't proceed with its planned reading of "I Am Jazz."

Parents were told last week that Mount Horeb Primary Center students would read the book because one student identifies as a girl but was born with male anatomy.

A Florida-based group, the Liberty Counsel, threatened to sue, saying concerned parents had reached out and that reading the book would violate parental rights.

The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Liberty Counsel as a hate group that advocates for "anti-LGBT discrimination, under the guise of religious liberty."

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MAUSTON - Authorities are investigating the death of a person who was found unresponsive in Decorah Lake early Friday.

Kyle Lynch, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden for Juneau County, says he was called to the scene to assist in a boat search about 1:30 a.m. He also says the Mauston Fire Department recovered the body, which was found in the water.

The Mauston Police Department says attempts were made to rescue the individual, but the Juneau County Coroner's Office pronounced the individual dead at the scene. Police have provided few other details, and the victim's name has not been released.

Mauston is about 70 miles northwest of Madison.

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RHINELANDER - People deposited more than just money at a Rhinelander bank Friday morning.  A blood drive at People's State Bank allowed donors to double down on what they gave.

Nurses from the Community Blood Center took donations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the "Give a Pint, Give a Pound" blood drive.  For every pint donated, the Blood Center will give a pound of food to the Lakeland Food Pantry.

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TOMAHAWK - Here in Northern Wisconsin, you can find Christmas trees just about anywhere you look.

Other parts of the country aren't so lucky.

That's why a forestry and real estate consulting company in Tomahawk sends the perfect pines, spruces, and firs to those who really need them.

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