Making the Honor Flight happenSubmitted: 09/13/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

WASHINGTON, D.C. - How do you get 91 aging veterans -- 61 of them in wheelchairs -- to Washington D.C. and back in one day? That's what the Honor Flight did Monday.

Newswatch 12's Lyndsey Stemm went along. Today, she takes a look at how this massive project got started, and the people who make it happen.

"They went back to work on their tractors, and in the factories, and the post office and made this country what it is today. So the "greatest generation" is not overrated by any stretch of the imagination. They've earned my undying gratitude," says Mike Thompson, Co-Founder of the Never Forgotten Honor Flight.

The "greatest generation"... many of us know them as our fathers; our grandfathers. The Honor Flight began because Washington D.C. finally had a WWII memorial. But many veterans from that war are getting too old to travel easily.

Mike Thompson and Jim Campbell started the Northern Wisconsin chapter. But they knew they were fighting time, so they started big.

"We knew the youngest WWII veteran was 82 years old. So without a nickel to our name we decided we needed $80,000 to fly. And at a sprinters pace we started the marathon to fly in five months," says Mike.

Thirteen trips later nearly 1,200 local veterans have gotten to see the memorials built in their honor. Many of those veterans have substantial health needs. But medical volunteers make it possible for them to go too.

"I've got to watch over these guys. Somehow they got old on us and so some of them aren't doing so well. So I spend a lot of time trying to make sure they're having an OK day. Managing oxygen, managing diabetes, you know, whatever we need to do," says Dr. Ryan Gossett, a volunteer medic who's been on every flight since it began.

It's a long day. It wouldn't happen without the scores of volunteers that help see the group off and welcome them home.

"It's really kind of thrilling to see these vets and the volunteers. I think giving back is very important. So that's why I volunteer, because I didn't go to war. But I'm here because they did," says Ann Lucas, a Volunteer from Wausau.

Many veterans resist going on the trip at first. Some don't feel like they played a big enough role in the war they were in.

"Whether it's the guys that were driving up on the beaches, or the guys delivering mail, they all served a role. And we try to help them appreciate that it's an entire system that needed to exist for the war effort," says Ryan.

Honoring that effort, however big or small, is the point of the honor flight. Anyone who didn't get the "thank you" and the "welcome home" they deserved will finally get one-- even if it is more than 60 years later.

Ryan remembers one vet who didn't even want to go home, "...he finally said, 'You know as soon as I go on that bus, I go back home and I'm the old guy that lives down the street. Today I'm a hero'. So that's what this is all about."

Mike remembers a vet from one of the first flights, "This veteran said, 'You know I got of that air plane and if I live to be 100 years old I'll never forget the sights and the sounds of that night'. He said, 'I feel like I won the war all by myself'."

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RHINELANDER - The yellow Historical Society Museum on Pelham Street looks like many houses here in Rhinelander, but step through the doorway and see early 1900's history packed from wall to wall.

The Historical Society Museum will have an open house Saturday from noon to 4:00 p.m.

Pieces of Rhinelander's past are preserved inside the house.

Some of those items include a black and white photo of the original hodag, a drum from the old paper mill marching band, and a dining room set made by the Rhinelander Boat Company.

Not only are those items inside the house artifacts, so is the house itself.

"If the walls were empty there would be stories and neat things to see here. You take that, just the neat house and then of course fill it up with all of the items, every room is just a multitude of stories of different items that are in it," said Vice President of the Rhinelander Historical Society Bill Vancos.

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MADISON - A 74-year-old man will no longer face disturbing child pornography charges in Iron County.

Instead, Charles Raimondi is now charged in federal court, which could mean a harsher sentence if he's convicted.

Raimondi is accused having a five-year-old girl pose for sexually explicit pictures over a span of about two years.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - A spinoff in the Ashlee Martinson saga seems to have come to a close.

The man convicted of stealing from the home where Martinson killed her parents will spend a month in jail.

Mark Spietz, 39, of Kaukana, was sentenced in Oneida County Court on Thursday.

Back in August, a jury decided Spietz was guilty on four counts of burglary and theft.

According to the criminal complaint, Spietz took ATVs, bows, a tractor, a trailer and Jennifer Ayers' purse from the home. Spietz claimed he was securing the property for a company based in Arizona.

In court on Thursday, Spietz's wife, siblings and parents all testified to his character and work ethic. They testified Spietz is a good father to a seven-year-old son and two step-sons. They said he also takes care of his parents who have health problems.

Spietz's attorney said he believes his client is still innocent.

"I believe that Mark had he had intended to steal the ATVs he wouldn't have gone through the bother of finding the titles," said Spietz's attorney Brian Bennet. "I believe that a person doesn't commit burglaries in broad daylight with the name on the side of his truck or trailer."

However, the state said it didn't seem Spietz took responsibility for what he did. District Attorney Mike Schiek asked for jail time.

Judge Michael Bloom agreed. He recalled sentencing Ashlee Martinson.

"And I looked at her sitting right where you're sitting now, before I had to look an 18-year-old girl in the face and send her to prison for 23 years, and I told her, you had a choice," Judge Bloom said. "And Mr. Spietz, you as well had a choice."

Spietz will also spend 18 months on probation. He can serve his jail time in any county jail as long as he clears it with the Onieda County Sheriff's Office. He also received Huber privileges and will be allowed to go to work and help his parents during his jail time. 

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RHINELANDER - It took 10 years, but Rhinelander may finally get the spark it needs to build a dog park.

An anonymous woman gave dog park advocate Tina Werres a $10,000 dollar donation recently.  Werres raised about $2,000 -- literally pennies at a time with donation jars -- over the last decade.

But many people didn't want to give a lot of money until a specific location was chosen.  Werres says she still doesn't have a spot approved, but this big donation puts her much closer to actually building a park.

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TOWN OF CRESCENT - Who should pay what to keep a Northwoods lake healthy?  That's -- in part -- the question people around Squash Lake near Rhinelander have debated for months now.

Some want to form a lake district to generate money, but not everyone is on board.  Supporters sent out a petition this summer and got more than 51 percent of landowners to say they support the district.

The organizers say the district fees would pay for DNR divers to clear Eurasian Water Milfoil, which costs around $20,000.  Those fees would cover a grant that's coming to an end.

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Packers' Abbrederis WaivedSubmitted: 10/27/2016

GREEN BAY - Thursday evening, it was announced that Wisconsin native, Wisconsin Badger alum, and Green Bay Packer Jared Abbrederis has been waived.

According the the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wide receiver Abbrederis was waived on Thursday. He was placed on injured reserve on Monday due to a quad injury ever since the game with the Cowboys. From the article, Abbrederis negotiated an injury settlement and wanted to be waived immediately so it would help him potentially be picked up by another team.

Abbrederis was originally drafted by Green Bay in 2014 in the fifth round. He missed that whole season due to an ACL injury and then a big majority of the 2015 camp with a concussion.

This story will be updated if new information is released.

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MADISON - A Department of Natural Resources review has found Wisconsin's fight against chronic wasting disease was hampered by funding as well as social and political factors.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Thursday the review found the state five years ago greatly de-emphasized killing deer in high-infection areas, a statewide feeding ban wasn't sought and prohibitions on carcass movement were complicated by expanding infection areas.

A new electronic deer harvest registration system has made collecting tissue samples harder, a marketing campaign to educate the public was discontinued due to cost and lack of money prevented surveys of public attitudes about CWD's spread.

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