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NEWS STORIES

Big Money Donation from a Local GiverSubmitted: 04/01/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com

MERRILL - A million-dollar fundraising campaign needs more than just $5 donations to work.

How about $100,000?

That's how much Merrill's largest private employer donated to the historical society.

Church Mutual's donation will help with the creation of the new Merrill History and Culture Center.

The company is a major part of Merrill's history.

It's operated in the city since 1897.

"It was kind of an easy thought process, and something that we felt as a corporate citizen, we needed to step up and make a contribution," says Church Mutual President and CEO Mike Ravn.

The new Center will cost $1.25 million.

The construction and renovation includes part of Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Church Mutual has another connection - they also used to insure that church.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

MARINETTE COUNTY - A 90-year-old man died in an ATV crash in Marinette County late Saturday afternoon.

According to the Marinette County Sheriff's Office, it happened private property north of Newton Lake in the Town of Athelstane.

90-year-old James Bosanny was driving the ATV with his 64-year-old son, James Bosanny, Jr., on board. He lost control on a small hill after hitting a plow before the ATV accelerated and hit a tree. They both were thrown off the ATV. The 90-year-old died at the scene.Crews took the son first to Bay Area Medical Center in Marinette and then later taken to a hospital in Green Bay for serious injuries.

The sheriff's office says neither was wearing a helmet. Police don't think alcohol or speed played a part in the crash. 

Crews are still investigating. James Bosanny, Sr., was from Monroe, Wisconsin, and his son, James Bosanny, Jr., was from Hortonville, Wisconsin. 

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MARATHON COUNTY - Firefighters call a Town of Berlin house a total loss after a fire destroyed it early Sunday morning.

According to the Marathon County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, crews got a call around 1:40 a.m. to the 11,000 block of Naugart Drive. When they got there, the house was totally up in flames.Several surrounding fire departments were called in to help.

No one was hurt. The house is valued at more than $100,000. 

Investigators don't think the cause of the fire was anything suspicious, but they are still investigating. 

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CONOVER - The rain fortunately stayed away in Conover for a part of Sunday afternoon just in time for the grand opening of the Conover-Phelps bike trail.

The project has been years in the making, and now it's ready to ride. A couple hundred people and local leaders came out in support of it.

"There's a real feel for people being enthusiastic about this," said Jeff Currie, the President of Great Headwaters Trails, which helped lead the bike trail project.

It's supposed to connect Conover to Phelps through nearly 11 miles of paved trail. The first part is open and goes from Conover Community Park to Muskrat Creek Road.

"3.2 miles on the ground and ready to be ridden on biked or hiked," said Brian Blank, the chairman of the Conover-Phelps Trail Capital Campaign.

"When people hear about a town and then when people say, have you seen their bike trail, it's just, right away it's like there's more to that town than I thought there was," Currie said.

While not yet complete, project leaders are hopeful the trail will be finished soon. Project leaders say the second part of the trail, about five miles long, is fully engineered but about 60 percent funded.

"We're about $200,000 away from completing the remaining five miles," Blank said.

"You know that funding could come, and when it does, five miles of trail in two or three months will be on the ground," Currie said.

"I have no doubt in the next couple years this trail will be completed all the way to Phelps," said Gary Meister, the vice president of Great Headwaters Trails.

The trail is non-motorized so, no ATVs allowed, but it will be a snowmobile trail in the winter.

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MERRILL - Steven Jopek carries a number of memories with him on Memorial Day.

"This will be our 9th Memorial Day where he hasn't been here," said Steven.

This weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the last time he saw his brother, Ryan, in person.

"He would be 30 on June on 1st," said Ryan's sister Jessica Holmgren.

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RHINELANDER - You can only learn so much reading from a book or sitting behind a desk.

So Friday, Crescent Elementary School kindergartners got out of their classrooms and into Rhinelander. The students learned about their community they see every day, but might not fully understand.

"The goal today was to get the kindergartners out throughout Rhinelander to see the businesses and what type career opportunities," said kindergarten teacher Julie Gerth.

With the help of Partners in Education and a Hodag School Foundation grant, the students visited Grace Lodge assisted living, Covantage Credit Union, Trig's and the courthouse.

The kids also got to see a firetruck, police car, and a public works vehicle at Pioneer Park. The field trip was designed to show off what the community can offer them now, and in their futures.

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RHINELANDER - In between the rain Sunday, people got outside and on the water.

Mel's Trading Post in Rhinelander held its annual Paddle Sport Demo Day at Hodag Park.

People were able to test out kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards for free.

The owner of Mel's trading post, Mitch Mode, likes this day not only try and sell some equipment but to also get feedback from people about the different boats.

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NORTHWOODS - Memorial Day Weekend means the return of snowbirds and tourists.

Tourism is a big industry here in the Northwoods.

Many businesses have reopened for the summer, but the people coming to the Northwoods aren't just from the surrounding states.

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