MERRILL - It seems like more people used the Safe Ride Home program in Lincoln County this New Year's Eve compared to last year.
The program gives bars and restaurants vouchers for free cab rides.
Workers then give those vouchers to customers.
People in Lincoln County used more than 50 Safe Ride Home vouchers this New Year's.
"I know it has picked up, I would say probably a 20 to 25% increase in safe rides over the last year. We're probably looking at in this area probably roughly about 1000 safe rides in the last year," says Blue Jay Taxi Transportation Manager Scott Zantow.
That could be because more people know about the program.
"The Merrill/Tomahawk Area Tavern League is doing a great job of getting the safe ride home programs out," Zantow said.
Blue Jay Taxi drivers started picking up people for the Safe Ride Home program around 4:00 p.m. on New Year's Eve.
They didn't stop until 6:00 a.m. on New Year's Day.
There are many people who don't use the Safe Ride Home program but still get cabs.
Blue Jay Taxi drivers took about 260 other people home on New Year's.
"People are staying, keeping their cars at home, or if they're drinking, they're leaving their cars at the restaurant or bar and they're getting a ride home. It seems like regardless of safe ride or not people are taking a taxi more and more so it's a win for everybody," says Zantow.
Bars or restaurants need to be a member of the Wisconsin Tavern League to take part in the Safe Ride Home program.
CRANDON - The Forest County Humane Society works around the clock to help animals find forever homes. But taking care of those animals during their stay doesn't just take a lot of time; it takes a lot of money, too.
The shelter got a helping hand, thanks to a $35,000 grant from the ASPCA. It's part of an initiative to help brick-and-mortar shelters improve their animals' quality of life.
Shelter director Angie Schaefer says that money paid for 20 new cat-condos, fencing for two new dog yards, and several other much-needed supplies.
"We're small, we're in a small community, so to raise that kind of money to get these items would have been quite a task. For them to step in and do that for us is amazing," said Schaefer.
Schaefer said the extra yards will allow dogs to spend more time outside and socialize with each other.
If you're interested in volunteering or donating to the humane society, visit its website for more information.
- The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans' self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.
With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.
NORTHWOODS - Wisconsin's lakes have a lot to offer their visitors. But some, like aquatic invasive species, are unwelcome due to the damage they can cause to native ecosystems.
There's a growing effort to prevent, contain, and control the spread of these aquatic invasive species, especially this holiday weekend. As part of the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program, volunteers will be stationed across popular boat landings, doing inspections and educating boaters on how to properly clean their boats.
"Any type of holiday weekend, especially the fourth of July when there's a lot more boat traffic, there's an emphasis on getting more awareness out there," said DNR recreation warden Justin Bender.
Aside from volunteers, most boat landings also have information posted on aquatic invasive species and the laws regarding boat cleaning. Citations for not properly cleaning your boats typically run $200-300.
MADISON, WI - Cigarette smoking rates have dropped since Wisconsin's Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law went into effect 10 years ago.
In 2008, before the law passed, 20% of Wisconsin adults smoked cigarettes. By 2018, the rate had dropped to 16%. High school youth cigarette smoking rates dropped from nearly 21% in 2008 to nearly 5% in 2018.
State cigarette taxes were also increased during this time period and contribute to this reduction.
"Wisconsin is breathing easier today thanks to this law, but we know there are many people in our state who still smoke," said DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm. "We urge smokers to take advantage of the programs available to help them to quit, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people who smoke are believed to be more susceptible to the virus, and can become severely ill with it."
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