Power shut off leaves ranch and horses without waterSubmitted: 07/19/2013
Story By Kailey Burton

HARSHAW - No power means no water for the animals at Leanne Chaney's ranch. This was a big problem this week when high electric bills caused her to fall behind on payment.

"They could have died... on a 90 degree day with a heat index in excess of that, in the hot sun... The horses had been without power, without water since 9:23 that morning," says Chaney.

The previous owner of Chaney's horse ranch left her with a big problem- One she didn't know about until her first power bill.

"They just came in with vehicles and took off the trailers and things that were there and really didn't cap off the power...The first bill that we received was $450 something."

So she called WPS, and was surprised to learn they couldn't help her.

"Any power that comes to the box WPS will be in charge of, any power after the box is something that the homeowner is in charge of so any lines that have been put down beyond the powerbox is something they are not responsible for."

The problem is buried cables leaching power into the ground. Chaney's bills climbed through the winter, and her payments fell behind. She received a shut-off notice, and her full payment came too late.

"If that check is not received by that certain date we do put them back on the disconnect notice and they will be disconnected," says Mike Kuczmarksi, Operational Supervisor with WPS.

Luckily Chaney's horses did get water by 9:00 that night, and seem to be ok. Now she's converting her ranch to solar power.

She doesn't agree with what the power company did, but they both agree that having another power source is a good idea.

"We always tell people have a back-up plan. There's no way if a big storm rolls through the Northwoods here and everybody is out of power that we can guarantee you power to keep your animals fed or oxygen if you have a person that needs oxygen in the home. Always have a back-up plan," said Kuczmarksi.

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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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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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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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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 High School choir teacher will go to jail after a judge found him guilty of sexual assault last month. 

26-year-old Chase Tonar will spend three years on probation and 15 years on a sex offender registry. As a part of that probation, Tonar will serve four months in jail.

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

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MERRILL - People know Helene's Hilltop Orchard in Merrill as the place to go to get your fall season fix.

The pie makers and apple peelers come in early to crank out caramel apple pies fresh throughout the day.

When people come to Helene's, they are usually greeted by the smell of the pies before they even see them.

"I love being out in the parking lot when people step out of their cars and smell the air. It doesn't smell like a lot of other farms. It's distinctly the cinnamon sugar you smell," said Helene' Hilltop Orchard baker Olivia Telschow.

Helene's is only open for six weeks from mid-September to late October; however, Telschow works alongside her mother Helene throughout the entire year.

Even in the winter, the apple orchard is checked on.

"February is pruning season. Think of me when it's minus ten and it's snowing and windy and snow drifts because I will be out there," said Telschow.

The orchard is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October 30th.

Helene's will close Sunday for the season, but pies will be available to order for Thanksgiving.

Call (715) 536-1207 for more information.

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