Northwoods Spotlight - Snowmobile Derby recap Jan 22Submitted: 01/23/2014
Story By Marisa Silvas

EAGLE RIVER - Tomahawk's Nick Van Strydonk won the world championship in 2012. He knows
competing at Eagle River Derby Track is special.

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

Lance Rutledge is an amatuer sno cross racer from Rhinelander.

"The adrenaline rush you get, especially in that last lap, it all comes into
play," Rutledge adds.

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

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 explains. "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 said. "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," derby
track marketing manager Richard Decker points out. "It's a lot of hard work but
believe me, everything is worth it. We love it."

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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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WAUSAU - This has been Wisconsin's deadliest gun-deer season in the past five years, with two shooting fatalities already recorded.

Daily Herald Media reports (http://wdhne.ws/1HvNth3 ) that the two fatalities brought to an end a three-year series of seasons that had been free of firearm deaths. Four other hunters also have been wounded.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, hunters violated some of the fundamental rules of gun safety in all the incidents.

A man was killed last Sunday in Columbia County when he was shot while passing a loaded rifle to a companion in a tree stand. Wearing mittens, she grabbed the gun near the trigger and it went off. On Monday, a hunter in Waushara County was killed by a stray bullet.

The nine-day season runs through Sunday.

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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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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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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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MOSINEE - This past week, hunters took the time to head out in the woods, sit in their tree stands, and wait for a buck to come their way.

But not everyone plays by the rules.

Every year, wildlife officers work hard to catch deer poachers.

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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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