Decorated ice shanties promote shopping small in paradeSubmitted: 11/30/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray

EAGLE RIVER - When Thanksgiving ends, the Christmas season begins.

But people in the Northwoods town weren't just in the holiday spirit.

They were gearing up for ice fishing.

Santa made a lot of stops in the Northwoods Saturday.

One was in Eagle River.

"This is my favorite time of the year because I get to sit in Santa's lap," said eight year old, Helena Sluzenski.

"Santa actually had a desk incorporated this year and more visual stuff," twelve year old, Dean Kazantzis said.

Before Santa made his way down Wall Street, a parade of seven decorated Ice Shanties rolled past the crowd.

They hoped to win the title of best ice shanty.

"We decided it would be fun since we own a bar and restaurant," Tijan's Twelve Pines co-owner, Barb Tijan said.

"We thought we'd like to decorate it with beer signs and make it cute."

Not everyone knew what an ice shanty is.

"Do you know what an ice Shanty is? No." said eleven year old, Chris Kazantzis.

That's why they started the Ice Shanty parade six years ago.

"Our idea was just to get a bunch of people in town. Kind of get the men involved," Christmas Kick Off Parade organizer, Katie Hayes said.

"A lot of people don't know what ice fishing is about. We're trying to encourage people to come up in the winter and spend time in our town, our great town. We just thought it was a good idea."

All shanties promoted local businesses.

"That's why we put it on. To get more people downtown. It's Small Business Saturday today. We're encouraging a lot of people to shop small, shop downtown. That's why we do it." Hayes said.

Getting in the Christmas and ice fishing spirit while supporting local businesses.

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MAUSTON - Authorities are investigating the death of a person who was found unresponsive in Decorah Lake early Friday.

Kyle Lynch, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden for Juneau County, says he was called to the scene to assist in a boat search about 1:30 a.m. He also says the Mauston Fire Department recovered the body, which was found in the water.

The Mauston Police Department says attempts were made to rescue the individual, but the Juneau County Coroner's Office pronounced the individual dead at the scene. Police have provided few other details, and the victim's name has not been released.

Mauston is about 70 miles northwest of Madison.

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TOMAH - The Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center says it has adopted another plan to improve patient care.

The La Crosse Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1QMsDMZ) that Friday's release of the "100-day plan" comes almost 11 months after media reports that veterans at the center were prescribed excessive doses of opioid pain-killers and that employees who spoke out faced retaliation from top officials.

The plan, which follows a 30-day plan announced in May, outlines steps for improving access to care, employee engagement and restoring trust.

Among other things, it calls for recruitment of psychiatric staff, employee forums and listening sessions, and opening an employee wellness center.

Several Tomah VA officials including former Director Mario Desanctis and former Chief of Staff David Houlihan have been fired since the problems emerged early this year.

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APPLETON - The U.S. Marshals Service says a convicted sex offender who was wanted for violating the terms of his release has been arrested in Appleton.

The agency says 63-year-old L.C. Streeter, of Milwaukee, was previously convicted of four separate sexual assaults from 1976 to 1985. Wisconsin committed him as a sexually violent person in 1996, and he remained in treatment until his release in 2013 under intensive supervision.

The service said in a statement that he cut off his GPS and electronic monitoring bracelets and fled supervision on Monday, resulting in a warrant for his arrest. Federal marshals and Appleton police arrested him without incident in Appleton on Friday.

Kevin Carr, the U.S. marshal for eastern Wisconsin, says Streeter was "an absolute danger to the community based upon his past convictions."

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MOUNT HOREB - A southern Wisconsin school district has cancelled plans for elementary school students to read a children's book about a transgender girl after a group threatened to sue.

The Capital Times reports (http://bit.ly/1TadnaG ) that the Mount Horeb Area School District released a statement saying it won't proceed with its planned reading of "I Am Jazz."

Parents were told last week that Mount Horeb Primary Center students would read the book because one student identifies as a girl but was born with male anatomy.

A Florida-based group, the Liberty Counsel, threatened to sue, saying concerned parents had reached out and that reading the book would violate parental rights.

The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Liberty Counsel as a hate group that advocates for "anti-LGBT discrimination, under the guise of religious liberty."

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TOMAHAWK - Here in Northern Wisconsin, you can find Christmas trees just about anywhere you look.

Other parts of the country aren't so lucky.

That's why a forestry and real estate consulting company in Tomahawk sends the perfect pines, spruces, and firs to those who really need them.

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RHINELANDER - People deposited more than just money at a Rhinelander bank Friday morning.  A blood drive at People's State Bank allowed donors to double down on what they gave.

Nurses from the Community Blood Center took donations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the "Give a Pint, Give a Pound" blood drive.  For every pint donated, the Blood Center will give a pound of food to the Lakeland Food Pantry.

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ANTIGO - As successful hunters look to fill their freezers with venison, they often don't have a use for the deer's heart. But donating that heart can be a big help to an area rehab center.

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