Snowmobilers hit the trails for MS Submitted: 01/24/2014
Story By Shardaa Gray

Snowmobilers hit the trails for MS
EAGLE RIVER - We hear about walks and runs to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis.

But this time of the year people are raising funds by snowmobiling.

More than 140 snowmobilers hit the trails today.

It was for the 31st annual MS Snowmobile Tour.

The money they raise will fund research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

"There are some people that need wheelchair assistance. There are some people
that need driving assistance; those sorts of things," said MS Snowmobile Tour
Co-Chairman, Marty Iverson.

"There is a college scholarship fund. All these fund raising efforts go to help
all those causes."

One snowmobiler has participated in the tour for 20 years.

Her husband has MS.

"We continued to just ride no matter what. His hands were bad; legs were bad,
put him on the machine, bungee cord," said Cindy Ferg.

"Do whatever we needed to do and all of a sudden my boys were coming and now all
three of them are riding. It just keeps his spirit alive."

Snowmobilers traveled through Lac du Flambeau, Sayner and Eagle River.

Tomorrow they will stop in St. Germain.

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MADISON (AP) - Wisconsin's attempt to conduct an election in the midst of a coronavirus crisis lurched forward Friday, with a Democratic governor pushing for an all-mail election to replace in-person voting and Republican leaders refusing to budge.

Just three days before Tuesday's spring primary, which features the Democratic presidential contest plus a high-stakes state Supreme Court race, a federal judge had extended absentee voting through April 13 but refused requests to postpone the election.

With thousands of poll workers quitting, Gov. Tony Evers for the first time Friday called for an all-mail election, ordering a special session Saturday and asking the Republican-dominated Legislature to agree.

"I sit here telling you the time is now for leadership and all the people that are part of the Senate and Assembly to step to the plate and do what's necessary to ensure we have safety in the state and we have an election we'll be using mail ballots for," Evers said, expressing confidence that the state would "get there" on shifting the election.

Republicans swiftly made clear their feeling that the election should continue as planned, and accused Evers of waffling under pressure from liberal groups.

"It's so disappointing that Governor Evers has flip-flopped on the very question that we have been discussing over the last month," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a joint statement. "The only bipartisan discussion we've had was to ensure the election would continue safely and to maximize the opportunity to vote absentee."

Evers wanted the session to begin Saturday afternoon and for lawmakers to take up bills that would allow clerks to mail absentee ballots to voters who haven't requested one by May 19 and give voters until May 26 to return them.

U.S. District Judge William Conley on Thursday ordered absentee voting deadlines extended from Election Day on Tuesday to April 13, in effect extending the election by six days. Republicans appealed, but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined late Friday to stay Conley's order. The court didn't explain its decision.

Other states have delayed their primaries to protect voters and poll workers from the virus. Alaska, Wyoming, Hawaii and Louisiana were set to hold elections Saturday, but they've pushed those contests back. Louisiana's presidential primary is now set for June 20. Democrats in Alaska and Wyoming have decided to hold their party-run contests by mail only and have pushed back the deadline for turning in ballots.

In Wisconsin, the troubled election is playing out in a state certain to be one of the key battlegrounds in the fall presidential race.

Evers said at the beginning of the outbreak that the election should go on as scheduled even amid a stay-at-home order and Republican legislators agreed. But criticism mounted as more and more poll workers walked off the job; more than 100 municipalities have reported they lack enough staff to run even one polling place.

Democrats and liberal groups filed three federal lawsuits demanding Conley postpone in-person voting. The judge declined to delay the election in his Thursday order but extended the absentee voting deadline and lifted a witness requirement.

Attorneys for the Republican National Committee, state Republican Party and Republican legislators turned immediately to the 7th Circuit, arguing that Conley's decision violates core principles that judges shouldn't change the rules in ongoing elections, allows people to vote after Election Day and renders the witness requirement meaningless, opening the door to voter fraud.

The 7th Circuit did stay Conley's decision to exempt absentee voters from the witness signature requirement, saying the judge didn't consider that lifting the mandate might open the door to fraud.

The Republicans' attorneys didn't immediately respond to email messages Friday evening seeking comment on the appellate court's decision.

The governor has said he lacks the power to change election law unilaterally. Calling a special session was Evers' last option to try and force legislative action.

The governor said during a conference call with reporters that holding the election as planned on Tuesday "is a significant concern and a very unnecessary health risk. I can't move this election on my own. My hands are tied."

The primary comes as Joe Biden holds a commanding lead over Bernie Sanders but hasn't formally clinched the Democratic nomination. Tuesday's election also features hundreds of races for local office as well as a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat.

It also comes as Wisconsin's chief medical officer says the state is "flattening the curve" on new COVID-19 infections. Dr. Ryan Westergaard said this week Evers' stay-at-home order "is making a big difference."

President Donald Trump took time out from Friday's briefing on the coronavirus to claim without evidence that the push to delay the election was to hurt a conservative he endorsed, state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, and not because of the coronavirus pandemic. Kelly faces liberal-backed Jill Karofsky for a 10-year term.

"I hear what happened is his poll numbers went through the roof. And because of that, I think they delayed the election," Trump said.

Trump also said he opposes mail-in voting because of fraud concerns: "It shouldn't be mailed in. You should vote at the booth and you should have voter ID."

Wisconsin requires voters to provide voter ID even when voting absentee.

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WISCONSIN - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 2,112 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin on Saturday, April 4th.

As of Saturday, DHS reported 56 COVID-19 deaths in the state, up from 37 on Friday.

Nearly 24,000 people have tested negative.

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RHINELANDER - The process is simple: Call in with your order, show up in the parking lot and get the groceries loaded right into your trunk.

"Some people are like "oh, I have too big of an order,'" Golden Harvest manager Nora Houghton said. "There really is no such thing."

Golden Harvest grocery store is offering curbside deliveries of entire shopping lists to lessen the chance of germ transmission in both their Rhinelander and Merrill locations.

The store always had this option, but managers are seeing people use it now more than ever.

"It has actually reduced the number of people in the store while keeping our sales," Houghton said.

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RHINELANDER - With schools closed, teachers can't have face-to-face interaction with their students for now. One local resource officer was missing that connection too, so he found another way to reach out to the kids he's used to seeing every day.

Deputy Michael Baran oversees the four elementary schools in the Rhinelander district.

"I kind of bounce throughout the schools and try to stop in the classrooms as much as I can," said Baran. "I'm in there helping kids read books or work on their math problems."

To continue that tradition, Baran posted a video of himself online reading a popular children's book so students could read along at home. The idea came from Crescent Elementary School principal Gayle Daniel, who saw Baran as the perfect host for a virtual story time.

"Michael is such an important part of our school community," said Daniel. "Having parents read stories, older siblings, family members… It's really important that they are read to and that they also read."

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It's the quickest, most casual photo shoot you've ever seen; done in five minutes and from 12 feet away.

That's the idea of the Front Steps Project, which started in the Boston area and now has come to Rhinelander.

"Right now, I have probably 50 families lined up to help this project," local photographer Temel Yasar said.

"People have been stuck in their homes for three weeks now. So this is a very exciting and interesting experience for them, just having someone do photography."

Yasar started Soft Light Photography in Rhinelander roughly a year ago, and wanted to use his talents to give people a literal breath of fresh air.

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RHINELANDER - Three people have tested positive for coronavirus in Oneida County. One of those people, an elderly man, was a resident at Rennes Assisted Living Center in Rhinelander. That patient is currently in isolation at another health care facility.

Meanwhile, the staff at Rennes are doing everything they can to keep their residents safe. Public information officer Vikki Baumler said workers have stepped up in a big way the last few weeks.

"It's a fearful time for everyone. We'd be remised to say no one's afraid at all," said Baumler. "We've been really impressed how everyone is coming together, focusing on residents and jumping in to do whatever they can."

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WISCONSIN - Wisconsin is scheduled to hold a Presidential Primary election this coming Tuesday.

Friday, after weeks of staying the course, Governor Tony Evers called for lawmakers help him switch it, to prevent in-person voting. Instead, he's calling for every registered voter in Wisconsin to get an absentee ballot in the mail.  He also wants to move the deadline to return those ballots to late May.

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