Melting Magic: Crandon AD's unique wood ash method helps clear snow-covered fields in two daysSubmitted: 04/20/2018
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Melting Magic: Crandon AD's unique wood ash method helps clear snow-covered fields in two days
CRANDON - With wide stretches of crusty white snow in all directions, the Crandon High School baseball and softball fields stand out as two big brown blobs; beautiful in the eyes of Josh Jaeger.

"It makes it look like I'm a genius, that I know exactly how to do all these chemistry experiments to melt snow faster and it's simply just a trick that I stumbled upon." Jaeger said.

The first-year activities director walked around the fields Friday just two days after it was covered in "deep drifts," as Jaeger described it.

With his teams unable to even play a single game yet, Jaeger decided to try a home remedy for clearing the snow. He uses wood ash from an outdoor burner as fertilizer and snow melt at his house (an idea he found after doing some online research), so he decided to try it on a large-scale at the fields.

"You don't need a thick coating of it, all you need is just a light dusting," Jaeger said of the ash.

Jaeger couldn't spread the ash on his own. He recruited players to carry buckets of the ash through a trail in the snow leading up to the field. After about 24 hours, the ash was already doing its job.

"They're used to me and all of my crazy ideas," Jaeger said.

Wednesday, softball and baseball players spread the ash on about five acres of fields, then let the potassium salts and sun-absorbing color go to work.

But finding enough ash in the first place took a little extra work. Jaeger went to Nicolet Hardwoods saw mill and asked for any leftover ash they had. The mill -- based in conference-rival Laona's home turf -- gave him enough to fill a 16-foot trailer for free.

"There's irony in that statement, but it's anything we can do to get [games] in, we're doing it right now," Jaeger said.

Newswatch 12 reached out to Nicolet Hardwoods for more information about the ash donation Friday, but no one was available to go on camera.

"We feel it is a nice gesture to help out local schools in our district when possible," Nicolet's Fred Chitko said in a texted statement.

The unique melting method just might help the Cardinals get out of the gym and onto the field next week.

"I should've patented this idea before I started doing this, you know, I could start a side job melting people's snow," Jaeger said.

For now, Jaeger is just happy his day job will finally see some action where his athletes are supposed to be. Crandon baseball will get in their first game of the season Tuesday in Wisconsin Dells, but Jaeger is hopeful to host its first home games Thursday or Friday of next week.

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BEAVER DAM (AP) - Wisconsin Democratic voters are getting nervous over their large field of candidates running for governor.

The primary isn't until Aug. 14. No one has emerged as the clear front-runner ahead of next weekend's state convention. And no one is showing signs of dropping out.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Scott Walker is stockpiling resources and is in the middle of a $1.4 million TV ad campaign where he's run three ads unopposed touting his record.

Democrat Denise Hutchison, of Green Bay, says she hopes the field will narrow. She's optimistic that may happen after this weekend's state Democratic Party convention. But she also thinks whoever wins the primary will get the full support of Democratic voters.

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MADISON (AP) - \Wisconsin dairy farmers have broken their streak of year-over-year production increases.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Wisconsin farmers produced about 2.5 billion pounds of milk last month, down 0.6 percent from 2017.

Bob Cropp is a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He tells Wisconsin Public Radio that the slowdown in production is good for milk prices. Prices have been low for three straight years because of an abundance of milk on the market.

The USDA report says there were 5,000 fewer cows in the state compared to last year.

Darin Von Ruden is president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. He says farms that remained open faced cold and snowy conditions this spring.

Cropp says some experts believe milk prices may reach $17 per 100 pounds by November.

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When firefighters arrived to the 11000 block of Oasis Drive, the unattached garage was engulfed in flames. The sheriff's office reports the garage, which was used as a workshop, is a total loss. 

Ringle Fire, along with Wausau Fire, Easton Fire, and SAFER Fire, were able to extinguish the fire before the home became totally involved. But the side of the home does have significant damage.

The fire department and sheriff's office are investigating the cause of the fire. 

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MILWAUKEE - Law enforcement officers are looking for 25-year-old inmate Tasir Bhatti who escaped from the Marshall Sherrer Correctional Center in Milwaukee. 

Bhatti was serving a five-year sentence for drug charges. The Department of Corrections reported the inmate's escape to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office and the Milwaukee Police Department.

Bhatti is 5'9, 179 lbs., and has brown hair and eyes. Anyone with information regarding Bhatti's location should immediately contact law enforcement. 

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RHINELANDER - Some people bought a brat Saturday in support of a Northwoods organization. Wild Instincts held a brat sale fundraiser outside of Trig's in Rhinelander.

Volunteers sold brats, hot dogs, and even veggie dogs for the sale. 

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The Tomahawk School District plans to apply for a grant and hopes to use feedback from the community to come up with a plan. The school has to submit the grant by June 8. 

The Tomahawk School District wanted to start a conversation with its community about school safety. Earlier this spring, it hosted safety roundtable discussions to do just that. 

"We thought we could get more information from our communities," said Superintendent Terry Reynolds. 

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