RHINELANDER - When Rhinelander basketball tips off its season next week, the Hodags will have one specific goal in mind.
"To be able to go back and win conference after losing last year would definitely be a goal," said senior Owen White.
Not winning the Great Northern Conference last year snapped Rhinelander's streak of four conference titles in a row. Hodags head coach Derek Lemmens puts that responsibility on himself.
"Myself, especially, really got caught up on the drive for five," Lemmens said. "We really talked about that, and I think as a staff, I lost focus of the process."
Part of that process includes starting off the season against stiff competition. Rhinelander will begin the year with a difficult non-conference game against Stevens Point.
"We want to do the things that doesn't make us look good but makes us good," said Lemmens. "So playing those types of teams, we feel like is the way to do that."
Another way for the Hodags to be good is to get the ball to White. The senior forward was named GNC player of the year two years ago before earning a spot on the first all-conference team last season. But he says he's not worried about personal awards.
"If we win conference then, yeah, it would be nice to also get the player of the year," said White. "But that's definitely not the main goal. The main goal is to win conference, and we'll see what happens from there."
White hopes more playoff success is part of what happens from there.
"This year if we could win a regional championship, that would be huge for all of us," said White.
Lemmens says he will lean on White and the other seven returning seniors to make that happen.
"When we have that kind of experience, it really creates more coaches on the floor, and when guys hear from other players, it sticks a little better, so having that many leaders and that many upperclassmen is beneficial in that way," said Lemmens.
Combining that experience with ability on the floor has the Hodags feeling pretty good.
"I really have a lot of confidence in our team this year. I think we'll be first," said senior Brad Comer. "I think we will. I am being confident."
ROSENDALE, WI - An explosion and fire at a cheese plant in Fond du Lac County sent one person to the hospital.
The sheriff's office says 36-year-old Travis Klotzbach, of Brandon, was using a cutting torch on an empty 55-gallon barrel in the auto shop at Knaus Cheese near Rosendale when the explosion happened just after 7 a.m. Friday.
RHINELANDER - Snow plows can't do their job very well when cars sit in their way. That's why Rhinelander's winter parking ban will return in just a couple of weeks.
Starting December 1st, cars can only park on designated sides of the street during the day. On even-numbered days, cars park on the side of the street with even addresses. On odd numbered days, cars must park on odd-numbered sides of the street.
UPDATE: The suspected shooter from a homicide in Tomahawk has been identified as Eric Lee Moen, 32. Tomahawk Police Chief Al Elvins confirmed Moen is being held in the Lincoln County Jail for a 1st-degree intentional homicide charge.
The Lincoln County Clerk of Courts reports Moen is being held on a $1 million cash bond. He has yet to appear in court, but an initial appearance has been set for Monday at 1:30 p.m.
Online court records show Moen was convicted of various traffic offenses. He was also convicted of misdemeanor battery in Portage County from a 2002 case.
Elvins plans to release more information Friday afternoon.
Tomahawk police identified the victim in the city's first shooting homicide in years. Friday morning, Police Chief Al Elvins announced Charles K. Ramp, 52, was shot and killed outside his home on W. Mohawk Drive Thursday night.
Police arrested the suspected shooter, a 32-year-old man from Wausau, but did not identify him. The suspect was found about 130 miles away in Lake Hallie, which is near Eau Claire.
RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Salvation Army hopes to raise $40,000 in its bell ringing campaign again this year. It reached that goal during the holidays a year ago.
Volunteers kicked off the bell ringing drive at Trig's and Shopko on Friday. Eighty-six percent of money raised stays in the Rhinelander area to help families in emergencies.
"We're very excited that we're keeping our goal at 40 (thousand dollars) this year, and we're hoping that people are continuing to be generous in helping us reach that goal," Rhinelander Salvation Army Kettle Coordinator Kim Swisher said. "People are friendly, they're excited, they're like, 'Oh, it's bell ringing time!' [That] always means the holidays. We're excited about that."
You'll see volunteers at Trig's and Shopko through the holidays. Bell ringing starts at Walmart next week.
EAGLE RIVER - Americans eat more than 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. That much thawing, handling, and cooking of turkeys means people can make mistakes.
The Vilas County Public Health Department wants to help people avoid exposing themselves to dangerous bacteria. It says frozen turkeys should always be thawed in the refrigerator or under running water.
"You don't want to set them out on your countertop for any amount of time to thaw them because that's when they're going to be in the 'danger zone.' The 'danger zone' is between 40 and 140 [degrees Fahrenheit], and that's when pathogens can grow," said Vilas County Registered Sanitarian Amy Springer.
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