NEWS STORIES

Mitten tree brings warmth to Merrill community for 32nd yearSubmitted: 12/18/2013

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MERRILL - You could call Sandy Hull a committed woman.

For 32 years, the Merrill woman has helped keep kids warm with hats, mittens, and scarves.

Again this year, she's in charge of the mitten tree at Miller Home Furnishings in Merrill.

People donate things to keep kids warm.

Hull brings them to schools in Merrill, who distribute them to kids who need them.

"It's gone up to at least 500 pairs of mittens every year. The tree behind you was just cleaned off two days ago. Completely cleaned off two days ago, and was taken to the kids at the schools. Now, it's completely full again," Sandy says.

Hull is grateful for the caring Merrill community.

It helps make the mitten tree a success every year.

"I'm so heartfelt that they would do this for our little children, do this for them year after year. It just tickles my heart. I'm just so fortunate to be able to do this," she says.

The mitten tree has partnered with Miller's for each of its 32 years.

Hull encourages your donations at the store in Merrill through Christmas.

Story By: Ben Meyer

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Dane County judge to hear Planned Parenthood lawsuitSubmitted: 04/24/2014

MADISON - A Dane County judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging a 2012 law that sets out conditions for abortions.

The law requires a doctor to determine whether the woman's consent is voluntary and inform the woman of domestic abuse services if he or she suspects the woman is being coerced. The law also requires doctors to perform a physical exam before they can prescribe abortion-inducting drugs and be in the room when the drugs are given to the woman.

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in February 2013 arguing the law is unconstitutionally vague. The organization argues its unclear how doctors should determine voluntary consent and whether doctors need to be present when drugs are dispensed or administered.

Judge Richard Niess is set to hear arguments Thursday morning.

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Board speeds up start of short-term loan program Submitted: 04/24/2014

MADISON - The start of a new short-term loan program that wasn't slated to begin until July has been moved up in an effort to help businesses hurt by recent cutbacks at Oshkosh Corp.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state's chief jobs agency, voted this week to start the pilot program earlier. It will provide loans or loan guarantees of up to $250,000 to companies for projects or expenses that may not be eligible for traditional financing.

The board says it was starting the program earlier in light of news that Oshkosh was cutting 760 jobs from its defense division because of budget cuts being made by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The loan program this year will only target businesses in Oshkosh Corp.'s supply chain

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State increases fines for parking in handicap spotsSubmitted: 04/23/2014

MADISON - It will soon be three times more costly for drivers to park illegally in a disability parking spot in Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Wednesday increasing those fines starting Friday.

The new law will increase minimum fines from $50 to $150. The current maximum penalty of $300 won't change.

The law also creates a fine for building owners to not provide enough disability parking spaces on site. Building owners or occupants with at least 26 parking spaces must reserve disabled parking spaces or pay between $150 and $300.

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Walker signs bill prohibiting cellphone trackingSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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MADISON - Wisconsin police could not track cellphone locations without a warrant under a bill Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law.

The measure Walker signed Wednesday passed the Legislature in February with no opposition.

Under the new law, police would have to present details about their investigation when seeking a warrant to track a cellphone. That includes the phone's owners or whoever is possessing it, the subject of the investigation, a statement of the crime and a statement of probable cause about how tracking the cellphone is related to criminal activity.

The bill was among 55 bills Walker signed privately.

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Kids learn about hospital Submitted: 04/23/2014

MERRILL - Hospitals can sometimes scare kids and even many adults.

That's why one Northwoods hospital wants those kids to be comfortable with doctors if they ever need their help.

Merrill kindergarteners visited Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center on Wednesday.

The kids got to see an ambulance, physical therapy and x rays.

"We try to show them that you know what, the hospital isn't so scary. And we bring them through different areas that they may experience when they come in or they have a family member here. And a lot of times children, if they don't know, they're very afraid. A hospital can be very intimidating, says Jane Bentz, Director of Foundation and Community Outreach.

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Sentencing date released for Lincoln. Co. man convicted of killing wifeSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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MERRILL - A Lincoln County man convicted of killing his wife and hiding her body will get his sentence this summer.

50-year-old Mark Bucki was convicted earlier this month in connection to the death and disappearance of his wife Anita.

He was convicted on three charges including first-degree intentional homicide, hiding a body and strangling a person.

The first-degree intentional homicide charge carries a mandatory life in prison sentence, according to Lincoln County Judge Jay Tlusty on the day of the April verdict.

Prosecutors want to add more years on top of the mandatory sentence with additional years from the other two charges.

Bucki will be back in court for his sentencing July 3rd.

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Outside agencies will investigate officer related deathsSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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RHINELANDER - Police departments in Wisconsin will now need to hire an outside agency to investigate deaths that happen in their custody.

Governor Walker signed a bill requiring the outside investigations today.

Lawmakers hope the new law will prevent police departments from protecting their own officers during investigations.

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