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Northwoods Spotlight - Holiday memories Dec 25Submitted: 12/25/2013
Story By Joe Dufek

Northwoods Spotlight - Holiday memories Dec 25
- Virtually no sports happening in the Northwoods until at least Thursday.

Many athletes including the Packers enjoyed Christmas with family and friends. Several shared some of their favorites holiday memories and traditions.

"I have two favorite Christmas presents," Joe Piskula - a member of the Nashville Predators organization and an Antigo native explains. "One was a snowmobile. The other was when we got a chocolate lab with my siblings. That was probably the best."

Elcho girls basketball star Makayla Raith was seven years old when she received her favorite gift.

"It was an American Girl doll. It had blonde hair, kinda looked like me at the time. Her name was Kaylee."


Packers wide receiver James Jones' favorite tradition is "on Christmas Eve, we all get to open one present."

Nicholas Cirese of the Phelps boys basketball team enjoys, "watching "Home Alone" alot. That movie is pretty funny. Just the two guys trying to chase the kid - I think they're the two funniest characters."

For some folks, it's a chance to get together with family who is several miles away.

Lakeland boys swimming star Nick Garcia's family is making a trip.

"We like to go down to Milwaukee and visit with my brother. We don't get to see him as much as I like."

"My family lives far away," adds Jackie Samuelson of the Phelps girls basketball team. "So my favorite thing is going to see them. It's so happy and fun. I just love it."

Packers fullback John Kuhn is looking forward to, "probably getting to open one gift on Christmas Eve, I think that's neat."

Justin Berg is a pitcher with the Colorado Rockies organization and an Antigo native.

"Being a baseball player, as crazy as it sounds, my favorite gift was a snowmobile. Either that or when my dad built a hockey rink in the back yard. My family all loves to play hockey too. That and a snowmobile."


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 IN OTHER NEWS

MOSINEE - The journey to the state meet began Monday for many Northwoods area track and field teams at the Mosinee Division Two regional meet. 

The Lakeland Union boys 4x800 meter relay team cruised to an easy first place to start out the meet. 

Last year the 4x800 meter relay team took the state title. This year the team consists of three out of four of the same runners. 

"We're looking defend out state championship title from last year and obviously get into the fast heat at sectionals," said senior Kieran Mullen. Mullen also came in first place at the regional meet in the 800 meter run.

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WOODRUFF - Black bear sightings become more common this time of year.

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EAGLE RIVER - A Wisconsin-themed outdoor landscape will soon accompany the new Olson Memorial Library in Eagle River.

The library reopened in December after a $2.8 million renovation and expansion project.

On Monday, volunteers started creating a rain garden and planting native flowers and grasses on the grounds.

"You have a new outside, you have the building, a new inside of the building, and we wanted to make sure that the landscaping complimented it," said Quita Sheehan of the Vilas County Land and Water Conservation Department.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - A man robbed a store in Wisconsin Rapids at gunpoint Sunday night.

The police were called around 9:00 p.m. to Jimmy Johns on 8th street.

A man came in, showed his gun, and demanded money. The employee handed over the cash.

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EAGLE RIVER - City water customers in Eagle River will see the effects of a brutally cold winter in 2014 four years later.

Starting this month, water bills will increase by an average of 50 percent. Cold weather in 2014 forced the city to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair water main freezes and breaks.

Low water bill revenues couldn't keep up.

"That winter of 2014 was probably the straw that kind of broke the camel's back that finally said, hey, you guys need to look at a rate increase," said city utility manager Pat Weber.

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RHINELANDER - With sunny skies and warm temperatures people might want to get outside and start grilling or barbecuing.

But many counties in the Northwoods still face a very high risk for fire danger.

"It can start out as a little fire on the side of the garage and you turn away to call your dog from across the street and look back and your whole house is on fire," said Rhinelander firefighter paramedic Nicholas Heise.

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"This year has been a pretty dry (season) as far as seasons go," said Heise.

That means fires will burn more rapidly and aggressively in high risk areas.

"I expect these fires to be very rapid and quickly escalate," said Heise.

Heise said some of the calls have been people grilling or barbecuing in their backyard.

"If you are grilling outside just make sure to keep a close eye on the charcoal grill," said Oneida County Deputy Sheriff Michael Baran.

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RHINELANDER - Rhinelander's new mayor wants to start a conversation outside rather than inside city hall. 

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