Northwoods Spotlight - Blind snowmobile racing Jan 29Submitted: 01/29/2014
Story By Marisa Silvas

PHELPS - Imagine driving a snowmobile, while blindfolded.

"Not being able to see totally disorients you," racer Jeremiah Chmiel admits.

Another racer, Ray Kangas explains, "It's a freaky feeling cause you're only
going by what someone is telling you."

This unique fundraiser came about in memory of Ken and Peto Buell. The Phelps
community rallied around the idea.

Race Coordinator Cindy Regozzi is proud.

"Blindfolded snowmobiling race! We're a fun, goofy place and have lots of great
ideas," Regozzi says. "That came up in a discussion one night and we tried it.
That was last year and it was very successful so this is our second year."

This is the helmet the drivers used to go around the track. They assured me
that once you put it on, you can't see a thing.

"There is absolutely zero vision," Chmiel adds. "If you're claustrophobic it's
probably not the best thing to put on, cause there's nothing there."

The weather didn't cooperate, but the experience was like nothing else you've
ever seen.

"It sounds scary, but once you do it, it's exciting and you'll want to do it
again," racer Ron Buell proudly explains.

Three Phelps seniors are competing to win a scholarship from the money raised.
The decision will be made based on academics, extra curriculars and community

Jackie Samuelson - a Phelps senior has big goals.

"I plan to go to the University of River Falls for Pre-veterinary medicine,"
Samuelson says. "I'm going to try everything I can to get a lot of scholarships
and this is one that I'd greatly appreciate."

"Hopefully we can draw some more people, raise some more money," Buell points
out. "Help these kids out and give them a better chance to go on in life."

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RHINELANDER - A Marathon County man who drove to Rhinelander to meet up with a 15-year-old girl for sex told police he nearly turned around.

Instead, Dustin Zernicke pulled into the Shopko parking lot Friday night and found officers waiting for him.

The 35-year-old Zernicke made his initial appearance in Oneida County Court Monday afternoon.  Undercover officers posted an ad on Craigslist pretending to be a 15-year-old girl.  The post said "Mom sent me [to] Rhinelander for the weekend and I have nothing to do."

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WISCONSIN - This year marks the third highest bear harvest in state history.

The totals cement Wisconsin's title as the best state in the U.S. for bear harvests with 4,643 registered.

But it wasn't all good news for bear hunters. 

This year also marked the highest number of hunting dog deaths.

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MINOCQUA - The Minocqua Town Board always knew it would need to replace Supervisor Bryan Jennings eventually. But the Board didn't think it happen so soon.

Jennings died September 8, two days after he was struck by lightning while walking his dog.

Town Chairman Mark Hartzheim says the Town is now accepting letters of interest from anyone wanting to fill Jennings's seat.

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RHINELANDER - We likely won't find out who Rhinelander's next police chief will be until early next year.  But the city is already working to replace Chief Mike Steffes.

Newswatch 12 learned earlier this month Chief Steffes is leaving Rhinelander to take a job with the Department of Justice.

Steffes beat out 34 other candidates to win the chief job in 2007.  Police and Fire Commission President Todd McEldowney expects to see dozens of new applicants this time.

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WAUSAU - This fall Wausau's Woodson Art Museum will bring together artists from all over the world. 

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/24/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll update you on the details of a fatal car crash in the Town of Stella that took the life of a teenager late Saturday night.

This year marks the third highest bear harvest in state history. But it also marked the highest number of hunting dog deaths. No one knows for sure why, but we'll tell you about some possible reasons.

And the Elcho-White Lake High School football team agreed to play an 8-man football game against a nearby high school's team. We'll tell you how it's helping out the nearby team.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MERRILL - The Merrill Fire Department sees the need for more, younger EMTs to get into the business. Like other area departments, it wants to ensure its staff will stay strong for years into the future.

People like Dylan Schielke can help make that happen.

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