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Propane Problems: 13 Vilas County Sheriff's squad LP units not functioningSubmitted: 08/11/2017
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
Assistant News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com

Propane Problems: 13 Vilas County Sheriff's squad LP units not functioning
EAGLE RIVER - Liquid propane fuel burns cleaner, costs less than gas, and helps Vilas County squad cars go farther between fill-ups. But propane can't do any of those things if the tanks don't work.

The sheriff's office has 27 dual-fuel LP units installed in squad cars.  It started buying and installing the units in November 2013.  Lately, 13 of them are either out of service or completely failed.  Sheriff Joe Fath says the company they originally bought units from--American Alternative Fuels--went out of business about a year and a half ago, around the same time the units started failing.

"It was very disappointing, but we had also purchased a newer unit that was plug-and-play, and those have been going into our new Ford Explorers," Fath said.

The sheriff's office started buying newer "Prins" brand units, which Fath says work "flawlessly." But those units also cost $6,000 each, which is about $1,500 more than the old tanks.

"We didn't go into it just to save money," Fath said. "We also went into it to have an environmentally friendly, clean burning fuel for our squads."

The squad cars can still run on regular gasoline, even if the LP is not working. In a functioning vehicle, the car starts on gasoline, then switches to LP when it reaches operating temperatures. The driver can press a button on the dashboard to switch between fuel types.

Fath's department will likely get six or seven new Ford Explorers next year as part of its regular replacement rotation, but at this point they won't get LP units.

Fath says money for LP tanks isn't in the budget and not up for grant funding at this time.

"I'm not aware of anything new coming out, but we're going to keep an eye on that," Fath said. "If there's something available, we'll try to apply for funding through those programs."

Fath says that, despite the problems, the LP program is worthwhile. The county locked in a new LP price at $1.29 for next year.

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

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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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