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Local police officers react to "Blue Lives Matter" billSubmitted: 07/12/2016
Story By Mary O'Connell

Local police officers react to
EAGLE RIVER - A Wisconsin lawmaker wants to pass a Blue Lives Matter bill after the deadly ambush on officers in Dallas last week. The bill would make certain crimes against law enforcement officers hate crimes. But some local officers think the bill might need to be reworked before it's passed.

Rep. David Steffen (R-Green Bay) wants to pass the Blue Lives Matter bill in the wake of the Dallas shooting. The bill would also apply to crimes against firefighters and EMS workers.

Some people criticized the bill, saying professions like law enforcement shouldn't be categorized with other protected groups such as racial or religious minorities. 

One Vilas County Sheriff's officer thinks the bill needs some work.

"It creates a divide," said Vilas County Sheriff's Office Captain David Gardner. "I think all lives matter. [It] doesn't matter if it happens to be an officer or a bus driver or even a person out there that's protesting. We all matter."

Gardner says he hasn't seen officers targeted here in northern Wisconsin, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

He says seeing what happened in Dallas is hard to explain to those who don't wear the badge.

"This is one individual. It's not a group of people," said Gardner. "It's one individual that completed a heinous act. It's part of our job, we understand that, but it doesn't mean that we don't have feelings either."

Gardner thinks another bill might not be the answer either. He says making a law with harsher punishments might not stop a shooter from carrying out an attack.

"I don't think it's going to change his decision. Whether there's a law on the books or not, I think he'll do it anyway," said Gardner. "We need to look at how we can control that behavior. I think there's other avenues we can look to also."

To honor the people who died, the Vilas County Sheriff's officers are wearing their mourning badges.


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 IN OTHER NEWS

OSHKOSH - Authorities have arrested two boat operators on suspicion of operating while intoxicated after their boats collided on Lake Butte des Morts in Oshkosh. 

The crash happened around 9 p.m. Saturday. 

The Winnebago County Sheriff's Office says a 26-foot Glastron boat with six people aboard was having mechanical problems and was traveling slowly toward Rainbow Park when it was struck by a 17-foot Lund boat heading in the same direction with two people aboard. 

Three people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries. 

The damaged boats were still merged together from the impact when they were towed to shore.


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ANTIGO -

The Team Wireless Verizon dealer hosted it's second annual "Backpacks 4 Kids" event at over 50 locations.

Parents and students were allowed to stop by on Saturday and pick out their own backpacks with over $40 worth of school supplies, all from donations in the community.

The Antigo branch was able to supply 56 bags for local students.

"I know that for myself I've had donations anywhere between a dollar and $20," said Assistant Store Manager, Leah Anderson, "$4 a donation provided one backpack so, $20 a donation is five backpacks for our local community."

This year's event brought in over $80,000 worth of school supplies.


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RHINELANDER -

After the Governor's decision, Mel's Trading Post made it clear; wear a mask or wait outside.

"Employee and customers, use a mask," said owner, Mitch Mode, "If people don't want a mask we can serve them at the front or curbside service."

But for Mel's, having customers wear a mask is nothing new.

"We've used masks, today is just another day of doing masks. Quite honestly, doing pretty well and people are pretty comfortable with it," Mode said.

In other places, however, masks may not see practical, such as, Papillon's Cafe.

"I don't think it's affected us at all. You've got all the retail stores that require masks now, so it's just a part of life right now," said employee Becky Dittel.

However, the restaurant is still encouraging their patrons to wear face coverings, they just want customers to be smart about it. 

"Our owner suggested that you wear your mask in, order your food, then your food comes out, of course, take your mask down and eat, then put your mask back up." 

For some businesses, staying safe and comfortable is a top priority. Masks or not.

"We're not going to deviate from what we think is the best practice for employees," Mode added, "if people don't want to wear masks we'll try to accommodate them at the door. We do that because we think it makes sense." 


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VILAS COUNTY - The Vilas County Sheriff's Office issued a statement Friday in response to Gov. Evers' new mask mandate. It said the following in a post on Facebook:

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- Newly elected Justice to Wisconsin Supreme Court Jill Karofsky will be sworn into office on Saturday, August 1 at 1:00 p.m. in a ceremony.

The ceremony will briefly interrupt her 100-mile ultramarathon, which will take over 30 hours.

Justice Karofsky will be sworn in by Justice Rebecca Dallet.

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DNR launches new websiteSubmitted: 07/31/2020

RHINELANDER - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources launched a newly designed website to be faster and more user-friendly.

The goal of the website is to make it easier for visitors to learn information the DNR offers.

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NORTHWOODS -
Sheriff's departments from Forest, Florence, Langlade, Marathon, Oneida, Portage, and Taylor counties have all announced they will not be enforcing Governor Evers' statewide mask mandate.

We have not yet heard back from Iron or Price county sheriff's departments.

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