Young pilot soars thanks to lessonsSubmitted: 07/30/2013
Story By Hayley Tenpas

RHINELANDER - If Tom Mckenzie had to pick his favorite place in the world, it just might be the sky.

"When I was younger, my grandpa took me up in a Cessna just like this and from then on, even though I was a young age, I just felt that I could do it for the rest of my life," said Mckenzie.

The "rest of his life" begins this fall.

He'll be an aviation student at the University of North Dakota.

But first, he wanted to get his pilot's license.

"He called up out of the blue; he's had an interest in this," said flight instructor Jeff Melau.

Mckenzie had his second lesson at Rhinelander Flying Service.

But before he hit the clouds, there's groundwork to do.

"Usually we start out with a little paperwork, we check the weather, make sure it looks fine to fly and then we go over to the pre-flight extension," said Mckenzie.

Mckenzie soared through the pre-flight check list, and finally, he was in the place he's always wanted to be.

"It's amazing. I'm just so happy when I'm up there and it's just such a great feeling. It's so hard to describe because it's just something that I've always wanted, I love," said Mckenzie.

This flight includes a little help from instructor Jeff.

"This guy is really into flying. I mean obviously he's going to go to school for it but he's just enthused. I think if he had his choice, we'd go right back up in the air right now," said Melau.

Over 14 years, Jeff has taught more than 100 students to fly.

"And I know when I sit in the airplane for a couple of hours and I don't do anything other than TALK, I know that they're at a proficient level and I know that I can solo them, in the airplane and feel confident that they're gonna be okay," said Melau.

Mckenzie still has a ways to go before he's flying solo.

But until then- he's content with just being in his favorite place.

"It's endless. And you can basically go wherever you want and do whatever you want. Just the possibilities," said Mckenzie.

And if you take a glance at the sky—you just might see him.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/27/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

For months people around Squash Lake near Rhinelander have debated who should pay what to have DNR divers clear Eurasian Water Milfoil. This morning, the Crescent Town Board passed a resolution to approve forming a Squash Lake District. But some people who live near the lake aren't sure they want a district. Tonight you'll hear from people on both sides of the issue.

An anonymous woman donated $10,000 to go towards a new dog park in Rhinelander. We talked to a dog park advocate to find out what the donation means for the project.

And the Antigo Red Robins put up 56 points in winning their playoff opener against Fox Valley Lutheran last Friday. But the road only gets more difficult from here. We'll take you to the Robins' practice tonight as they get ready for tomorrow's Level 2 game.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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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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BISMARCK, ND - Authorities have begun arresting some Dakota Access pipeline protesters at a camp the demonstrators set up on private land in the path of pipeline construction.

An Associated Press reporter says law enforcement officers formed a horseshoe-like loop around the camp in North Dakota.

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MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee police officer whose fatal shooting of a black man sparked a weekend of violent unrest in the city has been ordered to stand trial on unrelated sex assault charges.

Dominique Heaggan-Brown appeared in Milwaukee County Circuit Court in handcuffs Wednesday as he waived his right to a preliminary hearing. The 24-year-old man is facing five charges that accuse him of sexually assaulting two men and soliciting sex from two others. He's jailed on $100,000 bond.

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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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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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