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.
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.
ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Winter can be hard on everything, but you might not think it's hard on fish. They're protected under a layer of ice from the weather. But that layer of ice can create problems if it lasts too long.
"You don't get enough light penetration that goes down into the water. So there's no photosynthesis by the algae in the water so there's no oxygen that's produced," says Jim Kreitlow, DNR Lakes Biologist
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.
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