RHINELANDER - These days, it can feel like physical stores get overshadowed by online shopping. But that's not completely true in Rhinelander.
A new women's clothing boutique opened today in downtown Rhinelander.
Oak Tree Boutique owner and Rhinelander native Amber Bellile remembers a time from her childhood when downtown flourished.
"Over the years once I moved away and would come back I noticed businesses were shutting down," said Bellile.
Bellile is a social worker by profession but last April started an online clothing store from her Rhinelander home. When it got popular she decided to open a shop in downtown Rhinelander.
The boutique sells women's clothing size small to 3-XL, bags, shoes, and accessories. Bellile prides herself on finding fashion for all shapes and sizes.
"Their faces light up like I've never found something fit like this, I've never liked this cut before and now I like it. Just being able to see people find their strengths and not be so self-conscious," said Bellile.
Transitioning from online to a physical store is a trend that Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce Director Maggie Steffen has seen before in the city.
"Build it and they will come. That's exactly what's happening. Every time we get a new store down there or a new business it draws someone else," said Steffen.
Sales associate at Tricia's Treasures Lenore Blemke agrees that more foot traffic is better for all downtown business.
"We look at it as somewhat competition but that's good. It brings more people in and we're very happy she decided to open up a live store," said Blemke.
Although a risky investment, Oak Tree Boutique has the support of its neighbors.
"The downtown has struggled for a long time. I give her a lot of credit for wanting to start something," said Blemke.
As a new business owner, Bellile has a focused goal.
"We all want to make money and we all want to have good things in Rhinelander," said Bellile.
For Bellile, the most rewarding part of her job is a happy customer.
"If it works, it works, great. And if I've changed a couple people's lives, great," said Bellile.
CRANDON - Forest County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Justice was justified in shooting and killing 31-year-old Brandon Cude on Jan. 4, Forest County District Attorney Chuck Simono ruled Friday.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice released the results of its investigation in the case, and Simono's decision, Friday afternoon.
The DOJ documents detail how Cude swung a shotgun at Justice at close range. The deputy had just learned Cude had felony warrants against him, and Justice was trying to arrest Cude. Justice fired four shots on the scene, a rural road south of Crandon.
"He didn't get a shot off?" a fellow officer asked Justice after the shooting.
"No. He tried, though. Pulled that sucker out and pointed it right at me," Justice replied in an exchange recorded on a body camera.
EAGLE RIVER - Vilas County officers can now respond to active shooter calls better prepared.
All deputies and patrol offices now have access to steel-plated body armor, something only the Vilas County SWAT Team had before.
"We want to make sure our staff are fully protected," said Vilas County Sheriff's Office Captain Gerard Ritter. "I never want to see anything happen to any one of my staff. And we should outfit them with the protection they need."
Before the new body armor, Ritter said officers and deputies only had access to soft body armor.
"The weave material is designed to stop or slow down a projectile," said Ritter.
Officers will still wear the soft-bodied armor every day, but in active shooter situations, officers can now essentially double up on protection, protection once only offered to the SWAT Team.
"There has been an increase in active shooter incidences across the United States," said Ritter.
RHINELANDER - Police think an Oneida County man downloaded hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls using a private chatroom.
During Danial Smith's preliminary hearing Friday, Smith's attorney asked if police had any way of knowing it was his client who downloaded the more than 700 photos.
The state Department of Justice learned a computer near Rhinelander downloaded the pictures in late 2016 thanks to a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The internet protocol (IP) addresses from the downloads were linked to Smith's home on County C in the town of Stella.
MINOCQUA - Only about one-third of students showed up to classes at Lakeland Union High School Friday morning, with many staying home after police verified a shooting threat.
More police officers were on hand at the school Friday morning.
On Thursday evening, Minocqua Police Chief Dave Jaeger confirmed the discovery of shooting threats in the ladies' bathroom near the LUHS auditorium. The threat noted an attack would be similar to Wednesday's school shooting in Parkland, Fla., which killed 17 people.
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