Bringing Awareness on Sexual Violence One Step at a TimeSubmitted: 05/04/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray

Photos By Shardaa Gray

WAUSAU - An abuse shelter in Wausau wants to get the word out on sexual violence, one step at a time.

The Women's Community Incorporated held the 5th annual Steps Against Violence 5 and 10k run today.

You might have recognized some familiar faces there.

Newswatch 12's Lex Gray, Hayley Tenpas and Kira Lynne participated in the run.

Executive Director, Jane Gram Jennings says sexual assault is a big issue everywhere, including the Northwoods.

"From children who are sexually abused to adults who are sexually assaulted, it happens far too often and we need to talk about it," Jennings said.

"we need to make sure people feel safe telling and that they don't feel ashamed. You can't blame victims. We have to help support them and make it ok for them to talk about it."

The Women's Community helps all people of any gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Programs like theirs are growing.

"If you're not from this area directly, you can still get the help you need when you need it," said Jennings.

"Just go through the coalition sites through the states and they can hook you up with your local agency."

Jennings says they'll have another race in October for Domestic Violence.

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WOOD COUNTY - We now know the names of the people involved in a Wood County Crash that killed two people Tuesday afternoon.

The Wood County Sheriff's Department says the cars crashed head-on along Highway 80 in the Town of Dexter around 3:30.

71-year-old Barbara Baldwin of New Lisbon was driving one of the cars, and died in the crash.

Her passenger, 74 year old Louise Hemenway of New Lisbon, also died.

Another passenger in the car, 72-year-old Dona Sharp, was hurt....as was the driver of the second car, 30-year-old Greg Kopelke of Wisconsin Rapids.

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TOMAH - The Tomah VA Medical Center will end a lease agreement for a shelter for homeless veterans.

The Veterans Assistance Foundation has operated the shelter for nearly 20 years.

Tomah VA spokesman Matthew Gowan says there have been more than 30 incidents involving shelter residents recently.

They include a suicide attempt, a drug overdose and criminal violations.

The center has given the foundation notice that it will end the lease in January.

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EAGLE RIVER - The Northwoods didn't get a lot of bitter cold or snow early last winter.  That forced Vilas County to keep its snowmobile trails closed much later than it hoped.

But the county set its target opening date for this year, with hopes we see a very different winter.

The county set a projected date to open trails of December 12.  That allows deer hunters to get through their season without worrying about snowmobiles in the woods.

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RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce wants to push economic growth and work closer with businesses.
But to do that, the chamber needs a new director first.  That process is just starting.

The Chamber Board of Directors voted to fire executive director Bill Clow October 3rd.  Clow had only started last December.  Eric Britton has been serving as interim director since then.

Past president and current board member Brett Aylesworth says the chamber sent out a job description to all members this week, asking if anyone is interested.

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EAGLE RIVER - A driver lost control of her car and crashed into the woods southwest of Eagle River late Wednesday afternoon.

It happened on County Highway D near its intersection with County Highway H. The driver was the only person in the car. She wasn't injured.

An Oneida County Sheriff's Deputy on scene couldn't yet say why she lost control of the car.

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MADISON - A University of Wisconsin student charged with sexually assaulting and choking a woman is expected to face additional charges after investigators say they were contacted by dozens of other women.

Police say officers searching Alec Cook's Madison apartment found a black book with names of women he had met and what he wanted to do with them, including his sexual desires.

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MERRILL - A former Merrill choir teacher will be sentenced today for sexual assault.

Last month, 26 year old Chase Tonar plead no contest to sexual assault of a student by school staff in Lincoln County Court.

Tonar is accused of having sex with a student both while he was a teacher at Merrill High School and after he resigned last May.

Police arrested Tonar in July.

The Lincoln County District Attorney says he will ask for jail time, as well as sex offender reporting and counseling.

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