WAUSAU - Lower gas prices this summer please most Wisconsin drivers. But those same low gas prices could be leading to more deaths on Wisconsin roads.
Sixty people died in traffic crashes during July, making it the deadliest month so far this year.
The total number of year-to-date traffic deaths is 16 percent higher than this time in 2015.
The Wisconsin State Patrol thinks several factors might be at play.
"Some of those factors are an increased number of holiday travel vacationers for the summertime," said Wisconsin State Patrol Sgt. Dan Gruebele, who is based in Wausau. "Also, due to the lower gas prices we've experienced and a stimulus in the economy, those are contributing factors."
Those lower gas prices might be encouraging more people to use the roads. The State Patrol says drivers can't seem to shake the habit of distracted driving.
"It just keeps continuing and continuing due to, maybe, generational differences where people are so accustomed to having smartphones in their life that they really can't live without it, even when they're on a short trip in their vehicle," Gruebele said.
So far this year, 338 people have died on Wisconsin roads.
Many deaths are also due to drunken driving. The state will start its annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign on August 19.
MINOCQUA - Something as easy as telling time or spelling a five-letter word backward can get more difficult as we age. People in the Northwoods can test their ability to complete those simple tasks with a memory screening at the Pastime Club Adult Day Center in Minocqua. Individuals or their caregivers can then present that information to a medical provider for further evaluation.
RHINELANDER - For decades, homelessness has been a problem that defies easy solutions.
The number of homeless veterans in Wisconsin increased by 8.1% over the past year.
Assistant Oneida County Veterans Service officer Jason Dailey said that may be due to certain that issues effects of military service.
"There's a lot of the big issues for veteran's homelessness, there's a lot of post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues than cause issues maintaining employment," said Dailey. 'But we don't have the economy to support all those people necessarily as far as jobs go.'
Dailey believes the lack of triggers from a larger city that draw veterans to the Northwoods.
RHINELANDER - Lead ammunition remains the most popular option for hunters in Wisconsin. That's because it's cheap and gets the job done. However, experts encourage hunters to switch to a copper-based ammunition in order to protect other treasured species.
Wild Instincts Rehabilitation Center has seen nearly 30 cases of lead poisoning in bald eagles this year. Rehabilitators say the higher cost of copper ammo is a small price to pay for wildlife safety.
"It's not a gun control issue. It's not about trying to take anybody's rights away, it's to make it safer," said wildlife rehabilitator Mark Naniot. "We took lead out of our paint, out of gasoline because it was affecting us as humans. And of course we're affecting tons of animals out there."
ANTIGO - Like many cities, Antigo puts a room tax on it hotels and motels. The revenue generated is then used by a "tourism entity" to promote more overnight visitors in Antigo. For thirteen years that tourism entity has been the Antigo / Langlade County Chamber of Commerce, but another option is being explored.
Drew Lundt, board president of the chamber, never wanted this to come to a lawsuit.
"Unfortunately if this has to go to a legal battle, nobody's going to win that," said Lundt.
But recent disagreements have put that partnership in jeopardy.
Public meeting documents show Mayor Bill Brandt thought the combined chamber / visitor center was promoting its members, rather than the entire community.
Mayor Brandt pointed to the Visitor's Guide as an example. In the February 27th meeting, he expressed disappointment that only one Antigo hotel was shown in it.
RHINELANDER - The middle of November is usually a lull period between musky and ice fishing season. This year, that period was shortened.
Lakes began freezing a few weeks ago thanks to cold temperatures. Now that ice has formed on the lakes, people are venturing out to ice fish.
Some lakes look quiet at the moment, but as temperatures continue to get cold, that will be changing.
"Usually ice fishing season starts around here, end of November, right after deer season people start," said The Fishing Hole owner Gary Mangerson. "This year we're super early, which I enjoy because I don't have much down time."
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