BOULDER JUNCTION - Several times each winter month, Tim Meinke and his team members bundle up, pack their snowmobile with scientific instruments, and head onto the ice.
They're limnologists at the UW-Madison Trout Lake Station in Boulder Junction, and they study lakes. The team is proving that lake study isn't just a summertime job.
"We occasionally run into fishermen going on or off the lake," said Meinke, a senior researcher at the station. "No one ever suspects that we're there for anything other than fishing."
Meinke made that comment while sticking an instrument through the ice on Crystal Lake near Boulder Junction. A passerby could be forgiven for thinking he was ice fishing.
But Meinke and his three-member team weren't there to fish. Instead, they were measuring the levels of zooplankton, oxygen, light, and other environmental forces affecting the water.
But wait—don't limnologists take those measurements only in the summer, when lakes are changing dynamically?
"The common perception is, in the winter, not much happens," said Noah Lottig, a research scientist at the station.
But the lakes are staying busy, so limnologists do too.
"For the most part, lakes are surprisingly active," Lottig said. "There are a lot of different types of chemical reactions that are going on, changes in the chemistry of lakes, and also changes in the biology."
"The idea that it's just a storage refrigerator under there for the winter is pretty common, and we're learning that that's not really true," Meinke agreed.
About 35 years worth of dedicated research on seven Northwoods lakes—both in summer and in winter—has shown the change in those lakes to be nearly constant.
The scientists put their measurements into an database called Long Term Ecological Research.Those measurements give scientists a better view of what's happening with the plankton, plants, chemical makeup, and even fish under the water's—or ice's—surface.
"If we could, we wouldn't say [It's] a dog-eat-dog world," Meinke said. "It would be a fish-eat-fish world, because it can get pretty vicious down there."
RHINELANDER - Nineteen months ago, 10 police agencies surrounded the Tripoli home of Kenneth Welsh.
Police say Welsh caused a three-hour standoff, threatened to blow up his house, and threatened to kill his wife.
Later in court, he was convicted of two felonies and sentenced to three years in prison by Oneida County Judge Michael Bloom.
But now, those convictions and prison sentence have been erased. This month, while in prison, Welsh argued he didn't fully understand all the elements of one of the crimes to which he pleaded no contest, first-degree recklessly endangering safety. Welsh's motion put some of the blame on his defense attorney, Rod Streicher.
RHINELANDER - A number of Rhinelander police and firefighters will work a weekend morning shift in December and won't get paid for it. It's an extra task they're happy to help with.
The Rhinelander Police Department's Shop With a Cop program returns December 16. Police and firefighters take 20 third grade students from Crescent, Pelican, Zion, and Nativity schools shopping for Christmas presents at Walmart. The schools recommend students for the event.
RHINELANDER - This holiday season, you might want to tell your child to hug family members at holiday gatherings.
The Girls Scouts of the USA hopes you won't. The organization is saying daughters don't owe anyone physical affection, and that the expectation of hugs and kisses could have bad aftereffects later in life.
"I think for some people, it is a new concept," said Melissa K., the domestic violence coordinator at Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual assault, which is based in Rhinelander.
In a post, the Girl Scouts of the USA told parents their daughters don't "owe anyone a hug. Not even at the holidays."
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