In Wausau, Baldwin pushes for conservation fund renewalSubmitted: 09/11/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

In Wausau, Baldwin pushes for conservation fund renewal
WAUSAU - A national conservation group keeps an up-to-the-second counter on its website.

As of Tuesday, it reads 19 days left until the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund expires.

That means hundreds of millions of dollars are at risk of disappearing from projects for parks, trails, rivers, and forests.

The fund takes money from federal oil and gas leases in the ocean and gives it to conservation projects. It needs congressional approval to continue before it expires at the end of the month.

"Without the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we would really be struggling in terms of maintaining those traditions and bringing them to the next generation," said said U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) on Tuesday.

Baldwin talked with sportsmen at a roundtable in Wausau.

She's confident Congress will act to renew the fund by the end of the year. But she worries it might miss the September 30 deadline, which would leave a gap in conservation funding.

"We just want to make sure that those funds are perpetually available for making sure that there's public access to public lands and that we protect our natural resources and wildlife habitats," Baldwin said.

Outdoor spaces can have an economic impact, too.

William Koepke told Baldwin about his small business in Stevens Point, called Rekt. He relies on quality natural spaces for outdoor athletic coaching.

"Rekt is looking to bridge the gap between traditional health and fitness training, strength and conditioning, along with all of our wonderful outdoor spaces," Koepke said.

Koepke supports reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

He needs outdoor resources for his business. But he's also fighting for them for his dad, who survived a heart attack two years ago. Koepke's father is an avid outdoorsman.

"Show me another 56-year-old post-heart attack that's doing that kind of work," he said. "It's because of these public lands, these waterways, this access that we have that gave him the reason to kind of get back in the saddle and keep pushing."

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WISCONSIN DELLS, WIS. (AP) - Three Illinois men are dead after their sport utility vehicle collided with a pickup near Wisconsin Dells.

Columbia County sheriff's authorities say the men were in a Toyota 4Runner that collided with a Chevrolet Silverado at an intersection on State Highway 127 on Saturday.

Authorities say the Toyota SUV apparently failed to yield the right of way at a stop sign. The three men died at the scene. Authorities say they apparently were not wearing seat belts.

The 33-year-old woman who was driving the pickup was flown to UW Hospital. Her passenger, a 33-year-old man, was taken to another hospital.

Names and hometowns of the victims were not released.

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MADISON, WIS. (AP) - Madison officials say Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents violated city policy by detaining at least six immigrants without letting police know ahead of time.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval says the department has a working relationship with ICE, but the federal agency did not follow protocol. Koval says ICE has agreed to call the assistant police chief before making arrests in Madison. This time the agency called the Dane County Communications Center.

Koval says the arrests were made at separate workplaces and are not considered to be part of a raid. He says the community is in "hyper-warp distress mode."

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin says ICE told city officials the people arrested are believed to have committed serious crimes, but he does not know the specifics of the investigation.

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RHINELANDER - A house fire in Rhinelander left one man dead Friday.

Emergency responders got the call around 7:30 p.m. for a home near Hodag Park.

Steve Smith heard a dispatch call over his step-sons radio about the fire at his neighbor's home on Rose Street.

"We walked out the front door and it was plain as day," said Smith. "The flames were rolling out of the front window."

At first, Smith wasn't sure if anyone was in the home. "There was a man they brought out," said Smith. "unfortunately, I heard he was deceased,"

Police Chief Lloyd Gauthier confirmed the victim was found dead on the scene.

"Life saving measures were done by the paramedics. Unfortunately, the male had passed away," said Gauthier. "At this point, it appears that it was due to something left on the stove."

Gauthier says more details about the victim will be released on Monday. 

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16-year-old Angel Marie Simonson was found safe in Marshfield according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. 

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RHINELANDER - A man died after a house fire in Rhinelander on Friday night.

According to a press release from the Rhinelander Police Department, Rhinelander police and firefighters responded to the fire at 320 Rose Street near Hodag Park around 7:30 p.m.  

Firefighters went inside the house soon after they arrived and found an unresponsive man on the floor.  Firefighters and paramedics tried to revive the man, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

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WOODRUFF - Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport hosted a fun-filled day for family and friends on Saturday.

This comes about five months after one of its helicopters crashed, killing three Spirit employees.

Regional manager Charles Kotke said those men were in mind today,

"Today is a day of bringing people together, as well as a celebration of our 25 year anniversary," said Kotke. "This team did an amazing job getting us back to caring for our patients and doing what we need to do to care of our community."

Flight paramedics showed off the aircrafts to people and the helicopter was a big hit.

"They definitely like to look at the aircrafts. See how we transport patients from point A to point B," said Northern Region Supervisor Ryan Short.

Next Saturday, Spirit is celebrating with more associates. The second part of the celebration will be in Stevens Point.

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