Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Rhinelander Police officer and lawmakers work on fighting huffing and drivingSubmitted: 03/01/2013
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
Assistant News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com

Rhinelander Police officer and lawmakers work on fighting huffing and driving
RHINELANDER - It can kill you the first time you try it, but kids and adults seem to be doing it anyway. Inhaling aerosol sprays for a simple high. It's called huffing. But it wasn't illegal in Wisconsin until 2005.

"Having a legal thing that people can do made it more appealing that you can just go to the store and get chemical sprays and dusters and get high off that and not face any consequences," Rhinelander Police Sgt. Kurt Helke said. "At least now there's a consequence to that."

Helke helped lead the charge seven years ago to make huffing a crime. Now it's a class A misdemeanor. But his fight is far from over.

About a month ago, a Rhinelander driver named Matthew Taulbut crashed his car into the curb here, on Baird and Dahl streets near the county courthouse. Police found him slumped over the wheel with aerosol cans in his lap.

But ironically enough, Taulbut, who crashed just a block from where the law is upheld, couldn't be charged criminally with his 4th OWI. Huffing isn't defined as an intoxicant. At least not yet.

State Representative Rob Swearingen is a co-sponsor of this bill making its way around the Capitol. Sergeant Helke contacted him and other lawmakers with hopes of amending the drunk driving laws.

"Essentially what we're going to do is open up the word intoxicant and include the word inhalant, like huffing, and include that so that police actually have some teeth when they try to enforce the law," Swearingen said.

Lawmakers from both sides are coming together to draft the bill. The next stop will be in a legislative committee before heading to a hearing. Swearingen thinks the process should be smooth.

"It's highly likely, depending on any opposition, and I don't know why anyone would oppose this, but pending any opposition, something like this is good, common sense legislation," Swearingen said.

That's good news for Sgt. Helke and police everywhere.

"Unfortunately in most places, they aren't aware or there isn't anything spurned until somebody dies," Helke said. "And we don't want to wait until somebody dies until the awareness is risen."

Awareness and a law, that should make the roads safer.

"I think this is a simple fix, I don't think it's a big deal, but it's something that should get done, needs to get done so they can do their job," Swearingen said.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 09/22/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll tell you the decision the Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission made today regarding bus transportation within the two counties while the commission awaits federal funding that it needs to continue operating.

We'll show you some damage from the storms that ripped through the Northwoods today and bring you updates.

And tonight on Friday Night Blitz we'll bring you football scores from high school games all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following games:

Medford vs. Antigo

Ironwood vs. Northland Pines

Northern Elite vs. Three Lakes/Phelps

Crandon vs. Laona/Wabeno

Rhinelander vs. Mosinee


That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll bring you all this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Pretty much everyone in northern Wisconsin knows about the Hodag.  People living in southern Mexico likely don't.  But a Mexican-made handcrafted Hodag will now help Rhinelander students go to college.

Rhinelander Area Scholarship Foundation member Harlan Larson and his wife went to Oaxaca, Mexico several years ago and met famous woodcarver Armando Jimenez there.  The couple learned Jimenez had traveled to Wisconsin in the past, but he hadn't ventured north of Baraboo.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - A well known sex offender in this area will get out of prison again.  Albert Chagnon, 35, is set to be released into Oneida County on Tuesday.

Chagnon was convicted of child pornography possession in 2003.

He was released in 2014, but soon ended up under arrest again for using newspaper clippings of girls' pictures to make a booklet.  That booklet had more than 270 photos in it, many from the Lakeland Times.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander mom said her lifestyle completely changed when a new neighbor moved in. 

She used to love the close proximity and the ability to walk to almost anything in town.

 She has two young kids and regularly checks the sex offender registry. 

The Rhinelander mom wishes to stay anonymous. We'll refer to her as Linda. 

Linda found out a sex offender moved in a few doors down from her by flipping through a local newspaper.

 She saw a small box at the bottom page with a notification. 

"He kind of just snuck in," said Linda. 

William Huntington moved close to Linda's house in May.

 However, Linda says she knew nothing until she did research of her own in July. 

"When I saw what he was found guilty of I was in shock. I was in complete shock," said Linda. 

He was convicted in Dane County for repeatedly sexually assaulting his 8- year- old neighbor about twenty years ago. 

He's now required to wear a lifetime GPS monitoring system. 

Dana Wszalek works with the Department of Corrections in Rhinelander as a Regional Chief. 

Her office supervises people like Huntington in the community.

"What we do is not a cookie cutter type of approach to supervision; it's relative to what their risks are based on their case dynamics," said Wszalek. 

State law requires high risk sex offender to live at least 1,500 feet from churches, schools and playgrounds.

 Restrictions on other sex offenders are left to local offices. 

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office says there are no ordinances for sex offenders in Oneida County.

"They have different life experiences. They are a part of the community," said Wszalek. 

Wszalek understands the wariness community members might feel.

"As a parent it's important to be aware of who's in your neighborhood," said Wszalek. 

Linda said one of her 6- year- old child was planning on walking to school with friends this year, but instead they'll get driven.

"I feel like the neighborhood we moved into to be able to have these things has been taken away," said Linda.

Linda said she was shocked she didn't get a call or knock on her door from law enforcement.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Veterans can be some of the hardest workers. That's the message local business owners heard in Rhinelander on Friday.

Nicolet College hosted the Veterans Business Workshop.

The objective was to tell businesses why they should hire local veterans.

Guest speaker from Wisconsin's Veterans Chamber of Commerce Saul Newton says veterans can bring strong and diverse skill sets into the work force.

+ Read More

Play Video

MOSINEE - Wisconsin's new state budget includes $11.5 billion for education over the next two years.

On Friday, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) visited schools across the state to discuss some details of the education budget.

+ Read More

MADISON - Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout plans to announce she is running for governor on Monday.

An email sent from one of her supporters urging attendance at her campaign kickoff event in Black River Falls spilled the news Friday.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here