MERRILL - The official Packers bus rolled into Merrill last weekend. It was the final stop of their 9th annual Tailgate Tour.
More than 650 fans of the green and gold were delighted to see current and former players up close.
"Fans come to watch us at games," Packers kicker Mason Crosby explains. "They come to where we are all the time. So this is really a cool experience to go out, go in the community and just tell them thank you."
Former Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey adds, "Every stop that we've had, the fans are all so hungry and just starving to see us."
"It's very important to us and that's why we come out and do these type of events," Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush said. "Just to let them know that we have their backs."
Travis Ziegel - one of the hundreds of Packers fans in attendance was excited.
"Being able to meet superstars, you know we're in the small town of Merrill," Ziegel explains. "There's not a whole lot of stuff that goes on around here and to get another autograph and add another thing to my collection, it's an incredible feeling."
It also gave the players a chance to reconnect in a relaxed atmosphere.
"There's not a lot of serious moments and that's the way we approached our football season too," Dickey said. "You've got to joke around and have a sense of humor. I could spend a lot of time with those two. They're a blast to be around."
Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy enjoys the tour every year.
"What I really enjoy is seeing the interaction between the current and former players. By the end of the week they really have established a bond and they realize there's not that much difference even though there's about 30 years difference in age."
The party raised close to 50 thousand dollars. One hundred percent of it will go to improve the Riverbend hiking and biking Trail.
"Part of our whole purpose is to provide a venue for people to be able to enjoy the recreational opportunities first," Gene Bebel of the River District Foundation explains. "But also for the economic development of the entire community."
Now that the fun is over, it's time to get back on the field. Offseason workouts begin this week and the first OTA's are scheduled for May 28.
STEVENS POINT - A former Portage County doctor could go to prison for sexually assaulting his patients. Wilton Calderon pled guilty to three felonies Friday.
Calderon was a caregiver at the Plover Family Practice until leaving it in 2015. He then moved to Connecticut.
At least seven women accused Calderon of sexually assaulted them during appointments. Some patients said Calderon placed his genitals in their hands and performed unwanted gynecological exams by penetrating them with his fingers.
SUGAR CAMP - Update Feb. 17, 2017 10:20 p.m. -- The woman who runs an Oneida County animal rescue could face animal mistreatment charges.
Oneida County Deputies booked Stephanie Schneider on Thursday. She is due in court on Feb. 27.
Last week, deputies removed 39 dogs from Schneider's "It Matters to One" in Sugar Camp and put them at the Oneida County Humane Society.
Police are recommending charges to the district attorney, which include failing to provide food and water, mistreating animals, and obstructing officers.
People who know Schneider say they can't believe this is happening.
"I'm just heartsick about this, and I'm sick at heart for her," said LynnAnn Thomas, a Sugar Camp resident who says she's friends with Stephanie Schneider.
"Those are her children. She would never, ever , ever mistreat them," Thomas said.
But that's exactly what police believe Schneider did. Last week they removed the dogs from the facility after a weeks-long investigation that was prompted by complaints and concerns from several people.
"People that had worked or volunteered there were concerned about the conditions that the dogs were in and the fact that they were not receiving food or water," said Oneida County Sheriff's Capt. Terri Hook.
Those accusations baffle Thomas.
"I been over there several times, it's always been meticulously clean, happy dogs," Thomas said.
Thomas believes whatever condition the dogs were in, they came to Schneider that way.
"She does get some really, really, really desperate cases, and I imagine that they take a long time to heal," Thomas said.
Thomas added she got her own dog from It Matters To One a few years ago.
"I got my little Hankey, he came in in really bad shape, and she wouldn't let me have him until he was nursed back to health," Thomas said.
Since the dogs were removed, It Matters to One posted certificates of veterinary inspections on its Facebook page for most of the 39 dogs. The Sheriff's Office has seen those and is including them in its investigation, which is ongoing and may not end soon.
"Just to ensure that all the dogs are healed and make sure they've received all the care they need," Hook said.
Newswatch 12 has reached out to It Matters to One and has been communicating with the rescue via email.
The state Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection is helping the sheriff's office with its investigation and will decide if the rescue can keep its license.
Newswatch 12 also reached out to the veterinarian who conducted the inspections for the rescue, but has not yet heard back.
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