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Hodag advances to Round 2 of USA Today mascot challengeSubmitted: 03/05/2013
Story By WJFW News Team

Hodag advances to Round 2 of USA Today mascot challenge
RHINELANDER - Pat yourself on the back if you voted for the green and white. You helped get the Rhinelander Hodag one step closer to being the best mascot in the nation.

The votes are in and the Hodag made it through round one.

The mythical beast ran against four other Wisconsin mascots in the USA Today contest. It won with more than 80,000 votes.

But round two won't be easy. Regionals feature an Illinois winner that got more than 675,000 votes. The Hodag also faces the Minnesota and Indiana winners.

Voting starts Wednesday at 10 a.m. We have a link to where you can vote below.

The national winner will receive $2,000 for its athletic department. Second place will be awarded $1,000, third $500, fourth $250 and fifth $100.

Related Weblinks:
Vote Here starting Wednesday at 10 a.m.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

MERRILL - The Merrill Fire Department wants you to stay safe, especially when it comes to fires.

There is a difference between campfires and bonfires.

Campfires are small fires used for cooking and heating, not the kind of fire you need to stand back from because it's so hot.

Always remember to fully put out fires before you leave.

And watch kids when they're near the fire.

"When you're making those fires, they're keeping an eye on how you're doing it. So once in a while they like to try to do it themselves," says firefighter Jon Leiskau.

Wildland fire season is about to wrap up, but you still need to pay attention to burning restrictions.

"Anything bigger than a campfire size: fire with a fire permit, and there is no open burning in the city limits," says firefighter Rick Sparks.

Fire danger signs are changed every day according to the weather conditions.

You can also visit the DNR website for updates.

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MEDFORD - The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Virginia Tech University, and Sandy Hook School in Connecticut all stir memories of deep fear and sorrow.

Mass shootings can happen anywhere, at any time.

In rural areas like northern Wisconsin, county courthouses could be prime targets. Taylor County trained for that possibility this week with an active-shooter simulation.

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RHINELANDER - One Rhinelander woman may see a 10-year-old bucket list wish come true.

On Monday the Rhinelander Parks Committee supported having a dog park at Shepard Park in Rhinelander. 

For 10 years Tina Werres has been advocating to get support for a dog park in Rhinelander.

The decision is now left to the Rhinelander City Council, which is scheduled to vote on June 12.

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TOMAHAWK - Tomahawk Police Chief Al Elvins takes pride in his department's connection to the community. 

And many members of the community clearly feel the same way.

Augie's Collectibles owner Richard "Augie" Augustine donated eight ballistic helmets and a shield to the Tomahawk Police Department.

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MINOCQUA - In 2006, more than 40,000 pets died in fires due to smoke inhalation. 

That number has gone down, in large part thanks to oxygen masks designed for animals. 

The Minocqua Fire Department got its own set of pet oxygen masks Tuesday, courtesy of Invisible Fence of Northern Wisconsin.

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EAGLE RIVER - A lot of things need to go right to build a 40,000 square foot addition in just one year.  Workers in Vilas County used a fairly mild winter to their advantage to work toward that goal.

Construction on the county courthouse's addition is both on budget and essentially on time.  Crews have the drywall up on the second floor and are working to do the same on the first floor soon.  Vilas County Clerk Dave Alleman says a rainy spring held some masonry work up, but it's nothing crews can't handle to stay on track.

"Very well disciplined," Alleman said of the workers.  "They're working every day, things are being done on time. I think overall that makes for a good project."

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RHINELANDER - Most people stop by Rhinelander's chamber of commerce to get their picture taken with the giant hodag out front. Visitors to the chamber can also stock up on Rhinelander trinkets and gear.

Now, the chamber has decided to downsize its store in order to let someone else set up shop. 

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