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Northwoods Spotlight - Eagle River Derby recap Jan 22Submitted: 01/22/2014
Story By Marisa Silvas


EAGLE RIVER - Tomahawk native Nick Van Strydonk won the world championship in 2012. He knows Eagle River is the place to be.

"You can't put it into words," Van Strydonk said. "It's its own special feeling."

Amateur sno cross racer Lance Rutledge of Rhinelander adds, "The adrenaline rush you get, especially in that last lap, it all comes into play."

Speed, adversity and triumph, Derby Weekend had it all - including talented local drivers.


"We do it for the fans," Van Strydonk adds. "We're not out here to make money. We're not out here to prove anything to the guys we race against. We're out here for the fans, we like to put on a show and have fun."

It wasn't just the guys tearing it up. 17 year old Sabrina Blanchet from Quebec set out to become the first female to qualify for the final race, but she had a tough weekend.

"It's disappointing but I'm not mad or upset," Blanchet explained. "The team does a lot of work to give me the best machine they can. We'll come back and try to do it all over again."

Another tradition that dates back to the early years is the Derby Queen. Northland Pines hockey star Jessica Roach won that honor for 2014.

"It's definitely awesome being part of the derby," Roach said. "We're a big hockey town but the Derby is what people look forward to in the winter."

The sleds that race out here aren't like anything you'd see on a trail. They're hand built from the ground up and hits speeds up to 100 miles per hour on the track.

In the end, it was Malcolm Chartier winning the granddaddy of them all... and becoming a back to back champ.

"We did our homework, Chartier explained. "We did it last year and tried to replicate what we did last year and did it again."

"To be able to live in a little town like Eagle River and have a business because there's not that much other tourism it's just very gratifying," Eagle River Derby Track Marketing Manager Richard Decker adds. "It's a lot of hard work but believe me, everything is worth it. We love it."


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 IN OTHER NEWS

PHILLIPS - An 82-year-old man from the Phillips area died after his kayak overturned in Price County.

An emergency call came into the Price County Sheriff's Department just before 4 p.m. Wednesday.

A kayaker reported that another kayak had overturned on the Elk River about 4 miles east of Phillips.

The report was that the man was out of the kayak but still in the water.

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EAGLE RIVER - The Vilas County Sheriff's Department hopes that new DNA evidence will give them a better lead in an unsolved homicide case.

Forty-seven-year-old Luann Beckman was found dead in the woods in Phelps on May 17, and investigators are still looking for help.

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MERRILL - The Merrill School Board will officially move forward with a new superintendent after unanimously selecting a replacement Wednesday night, according to a district press release.

The board approved the contract offer for Dr. John Sample.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Tourists will flock to the Northwoods to celebrate the Fourth of July this coming Monday. But more tourists means more chances for traffic jams and accidents.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office wants people to be alert when they're driving this holiday weekend.

They also expect more people to be driving north for the start of Hodag Country Fest.

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STEVENS POINT - On a busy street with lots of traffic, you can easily get tunnel vision. But outside the Sell family house on Division Street, something certainly stands out.

"So many people have been noticing my yard and just stopping by," Anne Sell said Thursday morning.

It doesn't take long to figure out why. Standing more than six feet tall, covered in reflective tape and made out of old construction barrels, is Anne and her husband's creation: a squirrel they've named Nuts & Bolts.

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EAGLE RIVER - Many of us consider their dog as another member of the family. 

That's certainly true for a husband and wife in Eagle River, who are desperately searching for their dog--that they say was was taken from them in their own backyard on Tuesday. 

That dog is a three-year-old Boston terrier named Poco, and his owners are Scott and Laurie Schellinger.

According to the police report, a woman took the dog in a red Chevy Impala. The Schellingers say that woman is their niece. The Schellingers bought Poco from a man all three of them know about six weeks ago.

The Schellingers say when they got Poco, he was in bad shape.

"The dog didn't make a peep the first two weeks we had him," Scott Schellinger said. "And he cowered, and he just started coming out of his shell."

The Schellingers say their niece came over for a visit on Tuesday and that's when it happened.

"I was talking to my wife's niece on the back porch and all the sudden she goes running down the porch, her son grabbed the dog, the car was right there, opened up the driver car door, took the dog and [ran]," Scott Schellinger said. "Haven't seen him since."

The Schellingers say their home hasn't been the same, and their other two rescue dogs seem to miss him.

"I just can't believe this happened," said Laurie Schellinger. "Of all people, family."

Police have been searching for Poco, and the Schellingers hope he comes home soon.

"I just want him home where he belongs," Laurie Schellinger said. 

Click on the link below if you have information or want to help the Schellingers. 

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WEST ALLIS - A pregnant woman murdered and dumped in South Dakota grew up in Forest County.

An obituary for Tess White says she was raised in Forest County and attended schools there.  She was just 25 when she died.

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