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New canine unit making drug crimes more difficult in TomahawkSubmitted: 06/14/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm


TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk Police Department saw some major staffing changes in the past year. There's a new police chief, and it got its first non-human member.

The department launched a major crackdown on drug crimes in the area. Now, that newest member has hit the streets to help them out.

Meet Vali, Tomahawk's new drug dog. Vali and her partner Officer Ryan Picl have only been on the job together for two weeks. But in that short time, Vali already shows major promise.

"We've deployed her six times on cars and she's alerted on every one of them. And items have been found inside each car," says Picl.

Vali isn't a patrol dog. That means she doesn't chase and bring down suspects. But she can track people, and she's trained to find all kinds of drugs.

"She's trained for marijuana, coke, methamphetamine, opiate base like heroin and amphetamines," says Picl.

For the canine handler, it's a 24 hour a day, seven day a week commitment. Chief Al Elvins says Picl is the right man for the job.

"Ryan's got a drive and he's able to be aggressive without showing an aggressive nature to people. If he knows that his job is to go out there and make the street safer that's what he's going to do rain, shine, day or night," says Chief Elvins.

The duo will be instrumental in the department's effort to make it harder for people to bring drugs into the community. The drug crackdown has already been successful. In past years, the most drug cases Tomahawk police have had was 84. This year, they've already reached 101, and it's only June.

"We're getting a lot of kudos, but it's nothing I've done. The only thing that I've done in this department is taken the handcuffs off the officers and told them to do their job," says Chief Elvins.

The police have another partner: the community.

"The Animal Clinic of Tomahawk, Dr. Julie has gone above and beyond for us. She's given us all her services for free. One vendor that she had gave us food for life so it's absolutely no cost to the taxpayers," says ," says Chief Elvins.

If people keep contributing the way they have been, there will be enough in the canine fund to bring another dog onto the force when Vali retires.

You can contribute to the canine fund by contacting the Tomahawk Police Department.



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MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.

Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.

Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.

"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."

On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.

Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.

The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.

"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."

Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer. 


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NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.

They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.

But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.

And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.

That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.

It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.

"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate. 

Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday. 

You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.

All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.

That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.

"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."

If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.


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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 04/29/2016

- Local schools have stepped up to show their support for the Antigo community after last weekend's prom shooting. We'll show you what that effort looks like at Lakeland.

- Plus, a local greenhouse that was destroyed by a tornado in 2011 and was rebuilt is celebrating it's20th anniversary. We'll take you to the celebration.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - We now know who were the three people killed during Wednesday's double-murder suicide in Wisconsin Rapids.

The Wisconsin Rapids Police Department says  36-year-old Justin Bohn of Wisconsin Rapids shot and killed his 5-year-old daughter, Paige, and his 3-year-old son, Devon.



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VILAS COUNTY - Vilas County will need to fill a vacancy soon at the district attorney's office.

The current DA, Al Moustakis, has filed paperwork showing that he won't run for re-election.

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MINOCQUA - Lakeland and Antigo generally square off as rivals in Great Northern Conference competition. But on Friday, nearly a week removed from the prom shootings in Antigo, Lakeland wanted to show that it was on Antigo's side.

"It's hard to react to something like this, because you want to be concerned, and you want to help, but it's hard to know how to help," said Maggie Laurence, a Lakeland sophomore and Student Council member.

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TOMAHAWK - A renovation can do a lot for a business, like boost sales. But for one Tomahawk business, its new look won the store an award.

Many people were excited when the Essence Boutique in Tomahawk won a Wisconsin Main Street award for Best Interior Design. But none more so than the owner, Jenna Meier.

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