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Merrill hires new activities directorSubmitted: 08/04/2017
Katie Leszcynski
Katie Leszcynski
Sports Reporter/Anchor
kleszcynski@wjfw.com

Merrill hires new activities director
MERRILL - John Miller is no stranger to athletics in central Wisconsin.

"We knew of Merrill and the community, and it was a really big positive thing for us to pursue this job," said Miller.

Miller is the new activities director for Merrill High School and Middle School.


"I'm learning every day here," said Miller.

He's originally from Fond du Lac, but he and his wife have lived in south central Wisconsin before. Now that he and his family have moved to Merrill, they couldn't be happier with their new Bluejay family.

"Not just be involved, but be invested in our school and community and to be able to provide a great experience for our families and our students here at Merrill," Miller said of his goals for the new job.

Miller is taking over for Rick Bonnell, who will still teach at the high school. 

"He's helped me a lot in the transition piece, being free to answer any questions, being available, things like that," Miller said.

Bonnell played a big role in establishing the new Jay Stadium, which was built last summer. And Miller has some ideas for even more changes.

"We are currently working with some community and the school board on potentially looking at the idea of upgrading the electronic system in the field house as well," he said.

Miller is the activities director for 300 student athletes, grades six through 12.

"Being able to help them figure out who they are and become leaders in the community. So when they leave and graduate here, they feel that their time here was amazing and they want to come back and give back," Miller said.

First up on his list was to meet with all of his coaches and figure out a game plan with them.

"What we want to do to be able to provide our student athletes and our community and what's the best avenue to take for that," said Miller.

The fall sports season has already started, and John says he's excited to see what this chapter holds for him.


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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/18/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:


We take our Long Summer Weekend to Vilas County where we show you a garden in Land O'Lakes overflowing with produce - and a strong sense of community.

We talk to participants and organizers of the National Championship Musky Open in Eagle River.

And Friday Night Blitz kicks off another season tonight at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10 with football scores from high school games all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following games:

Superior at Merrill

Berlin at Antigo

Hayward at Lakeland

Abbotsford at Crandon


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

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

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MANITOWISH WATERS - Manitowish Waters would certainly look different today without its cranberry marshes.

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VILAS COUNTY - Vilas County prides itself on its miles of trails. Whether it's cross country skiing, walking or biking, there are plenty of options. But one of the longest is the Heart of Vilas County bike system.

"We have 47 miles of paved bike trails. I don't think that any place in the state can match that, it's awesome," said Mary Vangrinsven.

Those nearly 50 miles make up the Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail.

"It's like being on vacation every day of my life," said Vangrinsven.

When the trail started nearly 20 years ago, bikers, walkers and runners were very excited.
"I was pretty amazed by how much use it was getting. I wondered if this was just a fad or whether it was something real," said Vangrinsven.

But it was real. The finished trail goes through four different communities.

"It's been a great addition to what you can do in Vilas County," said Ken Wiesner.

Bikers can go from St. Germain to Manitowish Waters and hit up Sayner and Boulder Junction along the way.

"In my opinion, it's really changed the local economy for the better," said Wiesner.

Every Wednesday, a group of nearly 50 people bike along a part of the Heart of Vilas County Bike trail.

"I think we're really finding, especially in the areas up here, that we have very active adults," said Vangrinsven.

Wiesner and his wife Barb joined the group because they have a cabin in Vilas County.

"We've made a lot of new friends over the past 10 years, primarily in the biking," said Wiesner.

Whether you do it with a group of friends, or by yourself, there's also something to enjoy along the trail.

There are shops along the trail to rent bikes if you don't have one. If you would like more information on the trail, click on the link below.

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MANITOWISH WATERS - Northwoods tourism thrives off of fishing, hunting, and lake life.

Sometimes, people want to take a piece of that Northwoods culture home with them.

You might not recognize this sign in its beginning stages.

Mike Patek makes these handmade signs under the name "Vintage Cabin Signs" in Manitowish Waters. He controls everything from the cut to the paint.

His signs go all over the country. They're based off of Northwoods vacation images from the 30s and 40s; think old fishing magazines, travel posters, and postcards.

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SHAWANO COUNTY - One person died when an explosion leveled a home in Shawano county early Thursday morning.

The Shawano County Sheriff's Department says 54 year old Diane Pickett was found dead in the remains of the house.

A second person who lived at the house was out of town when the explosion happened.

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MADISON - Update:  8/18/17,  5:10pm

The Wisconsin state Assembly has passed a $3 billion tax break package for Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn Technology Group.

The bipartisan vote Thursday now sends the bill to the Senate, where it must also pass in identical form before it goes to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

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EAGLE RIVER - About 1,300 people will attempt to snag the biggest Musky during a long-standing tournament in Vilas County this weekend.

"When you go on the water and see all these yellow hats you'll know the tournaments on," said Wisconsin Musky Clubs Alliance Secretary Donald Gilbert.

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