RHINELANDER - Courtrooms often make us think of traditional procedure and seasoned judges.
But Oneida county has a unique way of dealing with some suspects.
Students from Rhinelander High School and Lakeland Union High School trained to become members of their schools' teen courts Monday.
"Teen court is an alternative for first time offenders ages 10-16 to go through, rather than going through the court process, to go through a process where they meet panelists, their peers," says Oneida County Teen Court coordinator Lynn Feldman.
Those panelists go through a highly selective process.
Not every offender goes in front of the peer court.
It's only in minor cases like shoplifting and vandalism.
Even then it's up to the judge to recommend the case to the peer court.
The offender has the option to then go to teen court or stay in the court system.
The offender must admit to wrongdoing if they choose to have their case taken to teen court.
The panel of their peers then gives them sanctions.
They can range from community service to required tutoring.
The offender's record is wiped clean as long as they complete the sanctions.
This is Amber Sheth's third year on teen court.
She joined it to be able to give back to the community.
"As a part of teen court and restorative justice, is that we help them realize why what they did was wrong, and the impact of their actions upon themselves, their loved ones and the community," she says.
Teen court has made Amber more interested in the legal system.
She's not alone.
The program sparks an interest in a variety of fields.
"Some of these students go on to be part of mock trial. Some students decide to be lawyers, or to go into political science. Others may become counselors, teachers. It doesn't matter where they want to go after school is over with. There is something here that will benefit them," adds Feldman.
Teen court started in Oneida county more than 5 years ago.
Yesterday two people safely escaped a fire that badly damaged a house in Sugar Camp. It turned out that a cat could have been a victim, but the cat was rescued by a firefighter. We'll bring you details and show you the cat that was slightly injured and is recovering.
We'll tell you about a Plaza that might be built in Boulder Junction.
And you'll hear from the Rhinelander city clerk on preparations for early voting which begins this Friday.
We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.
The Boulder Junction Town Board voted two to one Tuesday night to move forward with a town plaza plan. The plan will now go to a design phase.
The board estimated the cost of the design phase to be between $30,000 to $50,000, but it was dropped to about $25,000 at the meeting.
Town Chairman Dennis Reuss and Town Supervisor Dennis Duke voted in favor, with Town Supervisor Denny McGann voting against the plan.
A little more than $1 million may not seem like a lot of money to a city like Madison or Milwaukee. But for a town of fewer than one thousand people, it's a lot. The Boulder Junction Town Board could vote Tuesday whether or not to move onto the next phase of a $1.26 million town plaza project.
Dennis Duke has a vision of what Boulder Junction could look like in a few years.
"This one has a much more artistic flair, this has a more engineering flair if you will," said Duke while looking at potential design plans.
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