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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MERRILL - This weekend Northcentral Technical College hosted its fourth annual Fire and EMS University for firefighters across Wisconsin.

It provides training on firefighting and EMS techniques at the Public Safety Center of Excellence in Merrill.

In a simulation training exercise, firefighters have their hoods covering their face so they couldn't see anything when they entered a basement. They had to feel a fire hose and use teamwork to get around and save a dummy.

Firefighters from all over Wisconsin can come to the all-day event. They came to refresh their skills, teach and learn new techniques.

"We put out some classes that are very interesting and not run every day and if it applies to their department they'll send people," said Dean of the Public Safety Division of Northcentral Technical College Doug Jennings.

The school keeps adding other training tools as well. Just this year they added more training features, such as a simulator that allows law enforcement to practice driving trucks, squad cars and EMS vehicles.

On Saturday the students also trained with the aerial ladder.

"We are the only fire department in Lincoln County with an aerial ladder," said Merrill Fire Chief Dave Savone. "And so most of our firefighters have to operate our aerial ladder. And so we felt this truck operation aerial ladder operations is a great class for them to come and see."

UST Fire Apparatus brought a new aerial ladder truck for the students to practice with, and teachers from southern Wisconsin and St. Louis, Mo., also came to help coach.

Firefighters say they want to constantly re-educate themselves.

"It's great to get the extra practice," said Dean Johnson from the Town of Wausau Fire Department.

Northcentral Technical College also offers semester schedule curricula for law enforcement and fire science. 

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MILWAUKEE - A published report says unauthorized improvements have been made to a footpath on state land that a donor to Gov. Scott Walker has been trying to buy.

A spokesman for business executive Elizabeth Uihlein acknowledged that workers at her adjoining property may have cleaned up the trail slightly.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1Z18WU8 ) reports those who have seen the trail say the improvements are significant.

Uihlein is seeking to buy 1.75 acres along Rest Lake, where the footpath is located. But a tentative deal with the Department of Natural Resources was put on hold after critics raised questions.

A DNR spokesman says the agency inspected the site on Thursday and found an "established trail." He declined to say whether the department had talked to Uihlein or her representatives.

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MERRILL - Merrill residents might have heard a lot of music in town today.

Merrill High School hosted the Merrill Marching Invitational. Three high school marching bands took over the football field at Merrill High School Sunday.

Antigo, D.C. Everest, and Merrill high schools all showcased their musical creativity.

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RHINELANDER - Harvest Hoedown started Saturday at noon at the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander.

The event featured a hay maze, horse-drawn carriage rides, food, and live music all afternoon.

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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

Volunteers at Pointe Basse recreated a historical camp that portrayed the lives of people from the 1700s and early 1800s.

Volunteers from all across the U.S. had a piece of history to share.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

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THREE LAKES - A Northwoods priest may never experience a mass as large as he did this past Sunday. It was Pope Francis' final mass in the U.S. during his trip. Organizers predicted nearly 500,000 people would attend.

Father Bala of Three Lakes was able to make it to Philadelphia for the mass. He was one of a small group from the Northwoods who made the trip, and he said it felt like an extremely personal gathering.

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