Oneida County Emergency Management pre-plans for a disaster Submitted: 09/29/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray

Photos By Shardaa Gray

RHINELANDER - Natural disasters don't happen often in the Northwoods.

But Oneida County Emergency Management needs to make sure their fire departments know what to do if it does.

Oneida County Airport wasn't just for planes this weekend.

Fire departments and more than 40 firefighters trained for a natural disaster Saturday morning.

They practice every other month, but nothing like this.

"This is the first time we actually incorporated MABAS, our Mutual Aid Box Alarm System into a water shuttle drill." said Oneida County Emergency Management director, Ken Kortenhof.

MABAS is a system that Wisconsin adopted in 2006.

"Basically what that does, we pre-plan them ahead of time and they don't have to worry about deciding at the time which units to call and where they're coming from," Kortenhof said.

"It's a good system and it works well with the fire service."

Five different stations set up on the airports runway.

First stop was checking in.

The second station was incident command post.

"Right now they're directing the different tanker trucks and different tender trucks where to go and how to shuttle water." said Kortenhof.

After that it's off to the lake to fill the tankers.

Each truck can hold about one thousand gallons of water.

Then they have to find a place to put the extra water.

"When we're at a fire or something, we have what's called drop tanks. The tenders come in and they fill those drop tanks up and then those drop tanks feed the engines. The engines spray on to the fire." Kortenhof said.

Firefighters say the training helps departments communicate better.

"We have a number of different departments that specifically don't work together," Kortenhof said.

"The MABAS system and exercises like this give them the ability to work together and to practice what they're doing. So in the event they have to in real life, it goes a lot smoother."

A smoother response could save lives during a disaster.

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CRANDON - Kids learn math and English in school, but this evening, the Crandon school district taught their students how to stay drug free. All year long, the school has been promoting values such as respect and forgiveness and tonight was no different.

The Red Ribbon Walk started at the courthouse and then went to Crandon High School. Along the way, walkers saw signs with facts about living a drug free life. No matter how young the students were, they still heard the message loud and clear.

"It's really good for the youth because they can see not to do drugs. To have this event, it should be about a fun experience and it's really good for kids," said 5th grader Bryce Marshall.

Even with the cold temps and rainy weather, there was still a great turnout. After the walk, there was a presentation by motivational speaker Mike McGowan to really push the message of staying drug free.

"I think it's important that we bring forward all the reasons why drugs are bad for kids. They know drugs are bad but how does it affect their lives?" said Crandon parent and teacher Agnes Keller.

The Red Ribbon walk was just one of many events that the school will have over the year to show students how to live out good, positive values.

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RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce wants to push economic growth and work closer with businesses.
But to do that, the chamber needs a new director first.  That process is just starting.

The Chamber Board of Directors voted to fire executive director Bill Clow October 3rd.  Clow had only started last December.  Eric Britton has been serving as interim director since then.

Past president and current board member Brett Aylesworth says the chamber sent out a job description to all members this week, asking if anyone is interested.

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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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EAGLE RIVER - A driver lost control of her car and crashed into the woods southwest of Eagle River late Wednesday afternoon.

It happened on County Highway D near its intersection with County Highway H. The driver was the only person in the car. She wasn't injured.

An Oneida County Sheriff's Deputy on scene couldn't yet say why she lost control of the car.

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THREE LAKES - Baseball fans in Three Lakes watched the Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the World Series on Tuesday night.

A few of those fans might live on Cy Williams Road, or down the street from Cy Williams Park. As they watched, they may have drawn the connection between that Northwoods man, Cy Williams, and the game they were watching on the field.

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EAGLE RIVER - The Northwoods didn't get a lot of bitter cold or snow early last winter.  That forced Vilas County to keep its snowmobile trails closed much later than it hoped.

But the county set its target opening date for this year, with hopes we see a very different winter.

The county set a projected date to open trails of December 12.  That allows deer hunters to get through their season without worrying about snowmobiles in the woods.

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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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