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Empty lot in Wausau turns into a Christmas tree havenSubmitted: 12/06/2017
Erin Beu
Erin Beu
Reporter/Anchor
ebeu@wjfw.com

Empty lot in Wausau turns into a Christmas tree haven
WAUSAU - A neighborhood that some people might have deemed crime ridden now offers a touch of its own Christmas spirit.

Driving down the intersection of Third and Short Street in Wausau you can find socks, Santas and stockings hanging from trees.

"I guess they kind of reflect each person's personality," said Wausau River District Assistant Director Blake Opal-Wahoske.

Opal-Wahoske saw the empty lot and wanted to turn it into something special this year.

"[I wanted] to spread some Christmas cheer," said Opal-Wahoske.

Opal-Wahoske teamed up with a bar owner to turn the empty lot into the "Christmas Lives Here Lot."
"Each neighbor and some bartenders have decorated trees," said Opal-Wahoske.

However, the area hasn't always been this well-lit up.

"It was a very crime ridden area," said Opal-Wahoske.

Opal-Wahoske says in the past decade the city has redeveloped the area.

"If you came to this neighborhood 10 [or] 15 years ago you wouldn't recognize it," Opal-Wahoske.

Now, the only issue Opal-Wahoske sees is the wind knocking down all the trees.

"Oh my gosh that wind was wicked," said Opal-Wahoske.

Regardless if the trees stand tall or stand down, Opal-Wahoske hopes the "Christmas Lives Here Lot" will come around for years to come.

"I'm proud to call this home," Opal-Wahoske.


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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/17/2018

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:


We talk to area school district administrators about the problem they're facing with teacher shortages and how the schools are trying to work around those shortages.

We'll bring you the scene at Dunkin' Donuts in Rhinelander today where several police cars arrived and an officer even stood on the roof, not for an emergency, but for a good cause.

And we kick-off another season of Friday Night Blitz where we will bring you scores from high school games all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following football games:

Prescott vs. Rhinelander

Wittenberg-Birnamwood vs. Northland Pines

Shiocton vs. Tomahawk

Deerfield vs. Three Lakes/Phelps

Belleville vs. White Lake/Elcho


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

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

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MILWAUKEE - Heavy rains that flooded a section of Interstate 43 in the Milwaukee area left several motorists stranded.

The North Shore Fire Department responded to the scene Friday morning to help motorists, some of whom were sitting atop their flooded cars. Four people had to be rescued, and two others got out on their own.

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EAGLE RIVER - On Friday night, expect the line at the Eagle River ice arena to be out the door.

People in the area always look forward a tradition in its 56th year.

The Eagle River Recreation Association hosts a huge auction in mid-August.

"It keeps the lights on in this place. To run a rink is extremely expensive. We try to the best we can with what we have here to bring down those fees so hockey and skating becomes affordable for everybody up here," said ERRA President Patrick Schmidt.

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THREE LAKES - The Three Lakes School Board stands by its district administrator after questions over a political ad.

Friday morning, the Three Lakes School Board issued a statement saying they feel it is the best interest of students to continue under the leadership of Dr. George Karling.

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MADISON - Buildings destroyed by a natural gas explosion in Wisconsin will be removed at the end of the month.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the July 10 blast in Sun Prairie destroyed six businesses, one home and killed a volunteer firefighter. Many of the buildings damaged include apartments.

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RHINELANDER - The Wilderness Queen river boat moved from the Willow Flowage to its home in Rhinelander 10 years ago.
Later this fall it will move again, but sadly much farther away.

Owner Patty Zastrow sold the boat to people from southern Wisconsin.  She's moving out of state with her husband.

Zastrow is sad to see the boat leave the Northwoods after owning it for six years.  Current State Senator Tom Tiffany owned the boat for 20 years and ran it on the Flowage in western Oneida County before selling it.

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RHINELANDER - Hardly anyone goes through life without knowing someone who is affected by cancer in some way.

Thursday evening people gathered to honor those impacted by cancer at the11th annual Celebration of Life in Rhinelander.

Organizers emphasized that cancer survivors can still live active and productive lives.

Becky Gauthier of Rhinelander gave the keynote speech.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2017.

She shared her story that's been driven by courage.

"If it's ever you, just have hope," Gauthier said. "Don't ever give up. Just know that miracles happen every day and even if they tell you bad news, it doesn't mean it's your future."

At the end of the ceremony organizers released butterflies as a symbol of hope. 

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