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Northwoods Spotlight - Dirt Track Racing July 31Submitted: 07/31/2013
Story By Joe Dufek

Northwoods Spotlight - Dirt Track Racing July 31
EAGLE RIVER - Summer in the Northwoods for many folks means baseball, fishing, and vacation. For several, it can also mean racing.

Several days a week hundreds of area drivers racing for trophies and glory. Eagle River Speedway is one of the tracks in the Northwoods. Rhinelander's Jered Cech grew up watched his dad compete in drag racing. It motivated him to get a car and burn rubber.

"To be honest, I finally was able to get the money to race," Cech explains. "You can pay anywhere from $3500 to $35,000 for a car. This is closer to $20,000. The cost is high, but it's also cost effective."


It's not just the adults. Brian Retzlaff's son Parker also races. Cost can be an issue. But some of the lessons he's learning isn't just about racing.

"He loves it and it keeps in active," says Brian. "It keeps him from doing stuff he shouldn't be doing."

Depending on the class, these cars can go between 60 and 100 miles per hour. Joe Dufek had the chance to try one of these out on the track.

Joe didn't go very fast on the slippery track - averaging around 40 miles per hour.

The sport seems to be very strong in the Northwoods. It's thanks in part to a unique code shared by some of the drivers.

"It's the only sport I know where you might help someone, and they could turn around and beat you," says Bob Kleinschmidt of Arbor Vitae.

"It's a lot safer than people think," Retzlaff adds. "They have everything the NASCAR guys do. Hans devise. Fire suit. It's pretty safe for (his son Parker)."


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 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - Caramel apples seem to be a go-to treat this time of year, but a tough growing season almost made them hard to find this Fall.

Fun Factory Sweet Shoppe in Rhinelander only uses Granny Smith apples for its caramel apples.

Throughout the last few weeks, manager Judy Fritz says she had trouble finding enough green apples in the Northwoods.

Stores said bad crops and little rainfall made the Granny Smith apples scarce this season.

She eventually found some sold in bulk in Milwaukee to bring up north.

Fun Factory is very particular about their apples, so in the meantime, Judy hand-picked from the produce aisles in local stores.

"We always make sure that there are no bumps or bruises. We want a nice, perfect apple," says Fritz.


Judy says you shouldn't worry about getting your hands on one of her caramel apples.

Shipments of granny smith apples from Washington State have started to come in to a local store she works with.

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HARSHAW - Oneida County sheriff's deputies found three runaway sisters, ages 14, 14, and 12, in the woods in Harshaw just after 1 p.m. on Monday.

The sisters had been reported missing by their parents Monday morning. The parents had gone to wake the girls up for school, but instead found a note saying they had gone on an "adventure."

The missing girls triggered a search from the Oneida County Sheriff's Office Special Response Unit, Newbold Fire Department Search and Rescue, Minocqua Fire Department, Lake Tomahawk Fire Department, and Little Rice Fire Department.

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander factory that makes smoke flavoring caught fire early Monday morning.
 
Shortly before 6:00 a.m.,  Rhinelander, Crescent and Newbold Fire Departments responded to a fire at Red Arrow Products on Rhinelander's west side.

An employee says there were about eight workers inside at the time.

No one was injured.

"Flames were coming out of a conveyor area as high as the roof. We made an interior attack and knocked that flame down. Came in from the other side of the partition wall, then made another interior attack and knocked that down," says Chief Terry Williams.

As of 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, firefighters were still working to make sure the flames were out.

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RHINELANDER - With the push of a button and the whining of a winch, John Wendt singlehandedly symbolizes the end of a season.

"You see the changing of the leaves, I just love being out here every day," Wendt said.

Wednt hauls boats for Shoeder's RV & Marine in Rhinelander. Starting in September, he loads up fishing boats, pontoons, and jet skis and puts them away for the season.

"The weather's been nice, everybody doesn't want to put their boats away yet," Wendt said.  "But as soon as the weather starts turning, that's when it'll hit the fan."

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MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker has selected a former legislator to run the state Department of Natural Resources.

Walker's office announced Monday that he has chosen former Republican state Rep. Dan Meyer to serve as DNR secretary. He replaces Cathy Stepp, who resigned in August to take a position in President Donald Trump's administration.

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MINOCQUA - Typically, most people avoid spending time in junk yards but one Minocqua couple finds beauty in turning old antiques into art.

Since 2012, the retirees opened up the Rusty Truck, a business that turns aged, rusted pieces into rustic furniture and art.

Owner Mike Gang says after he retired from being a firefighter, he wasn't going to let his hidden talent go to waste.

"I love seeing things and seeing what they could be. [Taking] old things and turning them into something that's useful and practical," said Mike.

Mike's wife Ruth Ann says she is more than happy to bring old memories to life with their creations.

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RHINELANDER - The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission will get its long-awaited federal funding installment by October 4.

The timing means no Northwoods Transit Connections drivers will have to voluntarily furlough their pay, but the requirement of 24-hour advance notice for rides will stay in place.

Transit Commission Chair Erv Teichmiller learned the news over the weekend.

The commission is waiting on an expected payment of $300,000 from the federal government. In 2016, that money came in early September. As of last Friday, the commission wasn't expecting the payment until as late as November.

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