Loading

62°F

61°F

62°F

61°F

59°F

65°F

62°F

67°F

62°F

64°F

67°F

62°F
Search
NEWS STORIES

Rhinelander Police officer and lawmakers work on fighting huffing and drivingSubmitted: 03/01/2013
Story By Lane Kimble


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

STAR LAKE - Three people remain in the hospital after a car crossed the center line on County Highway K in Star Lake on Saturday.

The Vilas County Sheriff's Office got the call of an accident around 3:45pm Saturday.

51-year-old Eric Sather of Conover was heading east when he crossed the center line and hit another car. 67-year-old John Schroeder from New Holstein and his wife, Jane, were in the other car.

One male driver was flown to Aspirus Hospital in Wausau, while the female passenger was taken to Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff. The other male driver was taken to Eagle River Memorial Hospital and later flown to Marshfield.

Alcohol may be a factor in the crash.

+ Read More

WISCONSIN DELLS - A 21-year-old Chicago man who went missing in the Wisconsin River near the Wisconsin Dells remains missing.

Police in Columbia County are using sonar to try and find his body. Police say the man went under water around 7:15pm on Saturday while swimming to shore and didn't resurface.

Divers worked until midnight to find the man. Search efforts continued Sunday morning. Police say the man was fishing on a rock island area and appeared to get caught in a current while swimming back to shore.

Family members and witnesses tried to help him but couldn't. The victim's name is not being released at this time.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAHAWK - Thousands of people came out Sunday to see the Main Street Memories Car Show in Tomahawk.

People from as far as Minnesota came to see about 300 cars.

Tomahawk Main Street Inc. hosted the show, which has been going on for 21 years. Adults and kids came out to see many different cars, the oldest being a 101-year-old 1914 Model T Ford.

Cars ranged in color and style.

"This is a 1937 three quarter truck, military vehicle," said American Legion Post Commander Lowell Liberty. "It holds the capacity of two guys in the front, and six, or an infantry squad in the back."

Kids could also enjoy a petting zoo and games throughout the afternoon. Car owners hope more people come and enjoy the show next year.

+ Read More

Play Video

ST. GERMAIN - There might not be snow on the ground right now, but that doesn't mean people can't enjoy snowmobiles. 

More than 5,000 people were in St. Germain on Sunday for the Classic Sled Roundup. 

The Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain organized the event.

This is the 11th year of the event. 

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Many people in the Northwoods got the chance to try out canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards this weekend.

Mel's Trading Post held a paddle demo day in Rhinelander.

Anyone could come out to Hodag Park to try out the equipment.

The store's owner thinks it's good for people to try boats out before buying them. 

+ Read More

Play Video

LAND O' LAKES - The Land O Lakes Area Artisans (LOLA) Center went through some remodeling for its classroom.

After a few months, the classroom is finally finished, and it's being dedicated to a woman who left a big impact on the community.

Friends and family got together to remember Sandra Brown, who shared her love of art with the Land O Lakes community. She passed away in 2010.

Sandra gave her time and skills to areas that didn't have art programs, and they found a way to show their appreciation.

"The space has been enlarged greatly," said LOLA President Lynn Richie. "It was a coffee shop originally. And it's being dedicated to Sandra Hardy Brown, who was instrumental in bringing us money through a memorial fund when she passed away, and it helped kick start our art classes."

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The Pioneer Park Historical Complex in Rhinelander opened Saturday for the season.

More than 75 people came to check out the museum in the first two hours it was opened.

It takes a while for workers to get used to working at the complex again.

"We haven't done this since last October, September, you know, and so it's like 'oh okay, how do I do this?'" says Pioneer Park Historical Complex Coordinator Aprelle Rawski.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here