RHINELANDER - Big-name country bands travel to Rhinelander from far away for Hodag Country Fest.
But one local band doesn't have to travel far at all for their Hodag debut.
Take a little punk, some bluegrass, and a whole lot of country and you get the Ditchrunners.
"We like to call it 'Honkey-tonk Guttergrass.' But people say it's kind of punk-countryish, whatever it is. It's our own original thing. We're not trying to be like anybody else we're just doing what we do," says Douglas Bredlau, The Ditchrunners' lead singer.
The Stevens Point band came in first place at one of several Hodag Pick-Off competitions in Wisconsin.
Now they get to play on the main stage of Hodag Country Fest.
"It's a real trip because I know what a big deal it is. I know what a huge event it is in Rhinelander. And I'm going to have a bunch of friends that are going to be there that have been going to Hodag for years, and I'm just really excited to get the chance to play for the hometown crowd," adds Bob Weigandt, The Ditchrunners' mandolin player.
Weigandt grew up in Rhinelander.
Ditchrunner's founder Douglas "Buckshot" Bredlau grew up in Park Falls.
Their debut at Hodag Country Fest will also be a competition.
Bands that won regional Hodag Pick-Offs will compete for the title of Wisconsin State Country Band Champion.
"We are rooted in the tradition of country music and we're kind of trying to bring that back a little bit in the world of pop country I guess," says Bredlau.
When The Ditchrunners perform at Hodag Fest on Friday they'll also pre-release their new full-length album.
"Squirrel Lake up by Minocqua, we spent three days out on an island just recording all day, every day for three straight days," says Alex Dalnodar, The Ditchrunners' guitarist.
It's the band's first album with a record label.
You'll be able to buy it July 16th, the same day they perform at the Rhinelander Ice Arena with Buckcherry.
"It's actually a great family and I love these guys more than anybody. It's been a real good time and it's going to get a lot better. I know that," Bredlau says.
Big bucks to expand nutrition, physical education in Wisconsin schools
WISCONSIN - Seven Wisconsin school districts have been awarded a total of $3.2 million in federal grants to help them expand their nutrition and physical-education programs.
To qualify, the districts have to implement programs that teach students healthy eating habits and good nutrition. They also have to make sure kids have access to certain physical fitness activities, which could include fitness assessments or developing certain team skills.
The largest grant is going to the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, which will receive about $850,000. The Mukwonago Area School District and Pittsville School District will each get about $445,000.
WISCONSIN - Six out of ten people with Alzheimers and dementia will wander off at some point.
That puts them at risk for injury or even death. And not all of those people are found quickly enough.
That's why Governor Scott Walker recently signed a bill that will help find them quicker.
The Wisconsin Silver Alert bill will create a program that works like an Amber Alert for missing children.
An effective alert system is crucial to the Northwoods because of the growing aging population and severe winter weather.
For advocacy groups like the Alzheimer's Association, the new bill is a huge victory.
"Family caregivers of people who have Alzheimers, or another type of dementia are worried and concerned about whether or not their loved one might wander away from home," said Julie St. Pierre, an outreach specialist for the Alzheimer's Association in Rhinelander. "It's very important that those caregivers out there know that there are important resources that can help keep their loved ones safe in the home. The Silver Alert is certainly now a part of that safety net that we have in place."
The Alzheimer's Association was just one group that worked closely with the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network to get this bill passed.
A coordinator for the network believes this system will save lives.
"This bill really advances [us] one step forward in addressing the needs of an aging population. And that's extremely important in the Northwestern part of Wisconsin," said Joe Libowsky, coordinator for the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network. "In the Rhinelander area, where you have fairly severe weather, it makes the urgency of getting out the alert as quickly as possible even more important."
The alert system will heavily involve all 500 law enforcement agencies in the state to respond to at-risk adults who are reported missing.
Wisconsin joins 30 other states with a silver alert system.
RHINELANDER - We may want spring, but Mother Nature has other plans. Whether you like it or not more snow is on the way. We got people's reaction to the upcoming snowstorm. Click on the video link to watch.
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