Merrill's state seven ready to shineSubmitted: 02/26/2014
Story By Joe Dufek

MERRILL - The Merrill Bluejays wrestling team will be very busy the next two weeks.

Seven members of the team have qualified for this week's state individual wrestling tournament.

The Bluejays have also qualified for next week's team wrestling championships.

Both are in Madison.

Wednesday afternoon, the Bluejays held their final practice before heading down to state. Competition begins Thursday.

Three sectional champions lead the Bluejays efforts. 170-pounder David Pophal, 220-pound defending state champ Tyler Schmidt, and Ben Hintze at 182.

Head coach Scott Arneson is a Rhinelander native. In fact he won a state championship for the Hodags in 1984.

Arneson and the Bluejays are ready to get started.

"The best thing is we do get wrestle next weekend," Arneson explains. "It's made our practices this week and hopefully our accomplishments this weekend a lot easier. There's less pressure because we know we get another opportunity to wrestle."

"Mr. Arneson is a very intense coach," Pophal adds. "That's how we like to wrestle. We like to be intense and totally in control."

"It's phenomenal," defending Division One 220 pound state champion Tyler Schmidt says. "Last year I was happy with four teammates heading down. This year, seven wrestlers are headed down. We're all such a tight knit group - like a family. It's awesome having seven going (to state)."

"It's nice to be representing the school and Merrill," Hintze - making his first trip to state - points out. "We have a great fan base. We've had that all year. Going down there is going to be awesome."

To check out the state brackets for all three divisions, click on the link below.

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WAUSAU - People often leave unused prescriptions in their cabinets at home. But Wisconsin's Attorney General hopes you turn those prescriptions in Saturday to help solve a growing problem.

October 22 is Wisconsin's Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Attorney General Brad Schimel said more people die from accidental drug overdoses in Wisconsin than from car crashes.

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WAUSAU - Scott Walker faced a tough crowd at times in Iowa during his failed presidential bid. Now, an undercover video released this week may show those protesters were planted on purpose.

The Journal Sentinel reported the videos show activist Scott Foval bragging about disrupting a Walker rally in Iowa. Those videos were released by conservative activist James O'Keefe.

Foval talks about bringing people out of state into Wisconsin, but doesn't give a reason why.

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MINOCQUA - By the time most of us finish breakfast, we already start planning what to eat for lunch.

For some kids all around the world, that next meal sometimes never comes.

The Food for Kidz Minocqua committee will lend a helping hand to change that Saturday morning.

Lakeland Union High School's common area will transform into a full-blown assembly line.

Food for Kidz volunteers will pour and pack ingredients into plastic bags.

The goal is 175,000 packed meals.

Food for Kidz needs more volunteers by tomorrow to meet that goal.

"If you haven't experienced this, come out and try it and you'll go away with just a great feeling," said Food for Kidz co-chair John Breiten.

Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to walk in to volunteer.

The food packages will be shipped off to anywhere from Honduras to Mozambique.

Some special meals will be set aside and sent to local communities in the Northwoods.

"It's just a great, fun community event. I think the kids especially take something away that they are giving beyond themselves," said Food for Kidz sponsor and Lakeland Union High School Spanish teacher Karen Roerich.

Walk-in volunteers are welcome to attend either packing shift tomorrow morning.

The first shift is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The second shift is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

If you can't make it out to Lakeland Union High School Saturday, donations are always welcome.

Call John Breiten at 715-686-7570 for more info.

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What We're Working On Submitted: 10/21/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

Tomorrow is "Wisconsin's Prescription Drug Take-Back Day." The Wisconsin's Attorney General hopes that you will turn in any unused prescription medications that are in your cabinets at home to help solve a growing problem. Find out why keeping those medications in your home could be dangerous and why it's important to turn them in.

Plus, this is the first week of high school playoff football games in Wisconsin. Tonight on Friday Night Blitz we'll bring you scores from all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following games:

Merrill vs. Rice Lake

Fox Valley Lutheran vs. Antigo

Colby vs. Stratford

Northern Elite vs. Rib Lake/Prentice

Auburndale vs. Marathon

Laona/Wabeno vs. Abbotsford

That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin's utility regulator is planning to spend more money on energy projects in rural areas, including a plan to help underwrite the use of systems that convert cattle manure into electricity.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the systems known as manure digesters also help farms manage waste, which has become an increasingly controversial issue in Wisconsin as the size of dairy farms grows.

Wisconsin Public Service Commission officials say they're considering spending $10 million to $20 million on manure digester technology.

The commission also voted Thursday to authorize at least $7.7 million in funding for rebates for solar, wind and geothermal projects around the state that would keep a rebate program in place for energy consumers.

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RHINELANDER - The Northwoods Land Trust helps protect about 12,000 acres of natural lands in six northern Wisconsin counties.

That amount of conservation is a big job. But the organization employs just one full-time and two part-time staff members.

The Land Trust relies on the help of about 40 volunteers to accomplish its mission, volunteers like Nancy Richmond.

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RHINELANDER - When people think first responders, cops, firefighters and EMTs usually come to mind. 

But the true first responder is often the person they'll never meet.

It's Nicole Lea's job to be at her best when you're at your worst.

"There's no other reason your calling us to say, 'Hey, hope you're having a great day.' It is their worst day when they're calling us," said Lea.

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