New canine unit making drug crimes more difficult in Tomahawk
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.
VILAS COUNTY - Whether you're in the Northwoods for Labor Day Weekend or you call it home, you will have to be more careful around mosquitoes.
A dead crow in Vilas County tested positive for West Nile Virus, which is carried by mosquitoes.
According to a Vilas County Public Health Department press release, this is the first bird this summer to test positive for it.
Gina Egan of the Vilas County Health Department said over the years the county has found infected birds.
Egan suggests avoiding mosquitoes and wearing bug spray. She also suggests getting rid of standing water outside your home, such as bird baths or gutters.
Public health nurses stress that most people who do get West Nile do not get sick.
"Twenty percent of the people have it really mild," said Oneida County public health nurse Dawn Klink. "Eighty percent of the people have no symptoms. And less than one percent get really really deathly ill. And those are usually the ones that get tested for it and go in. Other people just think they've got a bug and don't go in."
Nurses want you to call the local health department if you do see a dead bird.
If you do feel you have severe symptoms of West Nile, nurses say to go to your doctor to get tested.
WAUSAU - The First Thursday means more than just a day in Wausau. It's a chance for stores to stay open later, and bring people downtown. The theme for the fourth, 2015 installment focused on live art in the Wausau River District and 400 Block.
For Wausau's Valerie Berkely, it gave her the chance to get others in touch with art.
Berkely greeted people passing by with a "Hi, I teach painting here" during the occasion outside the Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau.
RHINELANDER - This year the PotatoFest in Rhinelander will still have the favorites, like the French Fry Frenzy and Polka Sunday.
But there will also be a few new additions like a beanbag toss tournament, and potato pantyhose bowling.
"The pantyhose bowling that's where you wear a pantyhose on your head and it's filled with a potato, and then you have to swing your head to knock pins, or knock the ball down to knock the pins over," said DRI Executive Director Maggie Steffen.
MINOCQUA - Heading back to school makes many students stress about what they are going to wear, especially when it comes to that first day look. And educators at one Northwoods school want their students to know that dressing for success, is more important than dressing to fit in.
At Lakeland Union High School, the dress code is designed to promote making wise fashion choices. Administrators say they want students to get in the routine of dressing, as if they're going to work.
"We're teaching them how to get ready for college and how to get ready for a career that they're going to be going into, 'career and college readiness', we want to make sure that they understand 'dressing for success', and a lot of times we spend a lot of time talking from that point of view," said Lakeland Union High School principal Jim Bouche.
Lakeland Union High School doesn't require uniforms, but they do have specific guidelines in place. They don't spell out what students can wear, but instead tell them what they can't. The overall goal is to keep kids focused in class.
Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Rockfleet Broadcasting / Northland Television, Inc. and By Request Web Designs shall not be held responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, or misprints.