RHINELANDER - Most Americans love hot dogs, fireworks and beer on Independence Day.
But another American love affair could be changing.
A new study from the University of Michigan says Americans are becoming less attached to their cars.
The number of registered cars, trucks, vans and SUVs has gone down since the recession.
But Travis Trickey has sold cars for a decade.
He says business at Rhinelander Toyota is on the rise.
"People are still apprehensive from the big swing from 2007,2008 and 2009, Trickey said. "People are looking more now trying to fit into their budget obviouisly, but they are still looking for vehicles that have gadgets and gizmos."
One likely reason for that is the Northwoods lack of public transportation.
The Michigan study says young adults are most likely to shun vehicles.
But Rick Kenoedler thinks that's on the car manufacturers.
"I think a lot depends on what the car manufactuers are producing," Kenoedler said. "If its something exciting, people get excited about it and want them. If they are just boring transportation cars, whats there to be excited about."
The number of registered vehicles peaked at 236 million in 2008.
The Michigan researchers say that number is likely to rise again because of the improving economy.
PRENTICE - Snow days can be fun, but not when you're going to school later in June. Schools across the Northwoods find ways to make up those snow and cold days.
Prentice School District was supposed to have the day off today. Students went to school to make up for the days they closed due to snow and cold.
“This winter has impacted the school year in many different areas,” says Melissa Pilgrim, Prentice Middle School and High School Principal.” The fact that we cancel school 5 times due to snow and cold it has impacted our afterschool and extracurricular activities and has become a rescheduling issue for many activities, along with rescheduling our annual mini days outside activities 3 times.”
The rest of the days will be made up before the end of the year. The district extended the school year by one extra day.
WAUSAU - For the aging population, changes in eyesight means changes in overall health.
Dr. Jeffrey Sarazen has been an eye doctor for more than 25 years.
He sees between 100-200 patients at Envision Eyecare in Wausau every week.
Dr. Sarazen says he's seen a dramatic increase in elderly patients, mostly because of overall health issues of the elderly.
"We are seeing almost an epidemic of diabetes, especially here in Northern Wisconsin. That is one of the number one causes of vision loss," said Dr. Sarazen. "If we can talk to a patient about eating right, exercising, and not developing diabetes, they're certainly not going to develop any vision loss from diabetic retinopathy."
Driving after the age of 60, overall health issues and cataracts are the most common reasons for elderly patient visits.
Sarazen belives most vision problems can be prevented. One prevention is wearing safety glasses to prevent minor injuries like walking into sharp objects, or open cabinets.
"The other thing is getting a regular eye exam. People think getting an eye exam is just looking at the eye chart, determining which [eye] is better, one or two, and that's the eye exam, getting checked for glasses," said Dr. Sarazen "An eye exam has a lot more than that. We're checking the health of the eye."
Dr. Sarazeb encourages everyone to get a regular eye exam.
He also thinks anyone caring for an elderly person should check to see if any of their health conditions or medications could effect their eye sight.
WISCONSIN - Many people will go out and celebrate Saint Patrick's Day this weekend.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation wants people to use their app 'Zero in Wisconsin' to help prevent drunken driving.
It helps you find cab rides, has a blood alcohol estimator and a designated driver selector.
Leaders say the app has been popular so far.
"We've had about 44,000 people download it. We know that people are using it based on the data we've been getting back. And most importantly we hope that it makes people think about their habits before they go out and celebrate," says Wisconsin DOT Communications Specialist, Steve Olson.
MADISON - Wisconsin wildlife officials have decided to scale back the sale of leftover spring turkey permits out of concerns the harsh winter has reduced the state flock.
The Department of Natural Resources made 237,765 permits available this year. The agency awarded 135,893 through its annual lottery and had planned to sell the remaining permits by management zone starting Monday.
But agency officials announced Thursday they have decided not to sell the 426 permits for zones six and seven in far northern Wisconsin and issue 866 fewer permits in zones four and five, which span the state's upper mid-section on a line that runs roughly from St. Croix County to Marinette County.
Agency officials say hunters have been urging a conservative approach to the spring season given the severe winter.
RHINELANDER - "When you think about our organization, it's about people."
Chief Deputy John Sweeney's career in law enforcement spans nearly three decades.
From detective sergeant to second-in-command, he's been part of the Oneida County Sheriff's Office since 1985.
After 29 years of service with the sheriff's office, the chief deputy will retire this month.
"It's been a very enjoyable career. Law enforcement and policing is definitely measured in rewards," says Sweeney. When you come into work you have an opportunity to be rewarded with helping people."
The Tomahawk native started his career with the UW-Oshkosh campus police. Since then he's learned to take a community approach to his work.
But Sweeny doesn't see this as a retirement.
"I feel like retirement is an interesting word," says Sweeney. "I don't know that I'm necessarily going to retire. I would say that I'm taking a pension and definitely will be looking forward to some other efforts I would like to make."
Some of those efforts include farming and raising beef cattle. He'll be able to start those projects after his last day on March 21st.
"I'm leaving a department that I'm proud of," says Sweeney. "I'll look forward to, as I say in the future, we look forward to a friendship that I've gained with our many in law enforcement and in the community."
RHINELANDER - Wisconsin water specialists believe prolonged snow on the ground could turn into a problem if a large amount of snow is still around in late March and April.
Tom Hellamn, National Weather Service Hydrology Focal Point in Green Bay, says the potential for flooding increases the longer snow is on the ground in the Spring.
That’s because rain could combine with the snow to create even more runoff.
"The big concern is not just with the snow melt itself going fast," Hellman said, "It is also if we get a warm weather system that produce several inches of rain over several days."
That combination could add up to four or five inches of water content that would turn into runoff because the ground is still frozen. But Hellman says the periodic warm ups set a nice pace for melting.
"The melt we had on Monday was was a very good melt just to reduce the pressure of the flooding," Hellman. "That did reduce the snow pack a little bit, but the runoff is still there, it has not completed the process of moving into the stream channels then into the rivers."
Hellman says warm temperatures and quick melts could lead to flooding along rivers and streams in Central Wisconsin south of Highway 64.
Northern Wisconsin has experienced some drought over the past few years. That's why Hellman believes many Northwoods lakes could take on some of the runoff water from the rain and snow.
But Hellman's department is almost more worried about what the combination of melting snow and rain could do for ice filled rivers in Central Wisconsin.
"We are kind of a little more concerned with the possibility of ice jamming because there is a lot of river ice this year," Hellman said. "So if we get a real rapid melting or rainfall that could be an issue."
Hellman says Wolf River in Menominee County and Spirit River in Lincoln County have had ice jams in the past.
Jams usually happen in bends, near bridges or other places where ice can group up in rivers.
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