MERRILL - Alarms went off at Prairie River Middle School, kids raced out, and only Ryan Martinovici knew what was really going on.
"They didn't give me much warning," Martinovici said.
The middle school principal learned about a surprise fire drill from the Merrill Fire Department just a few hours earlier in the day Thursday. To make sure the drill was a surprise, Martinovici didn't tell any students or teachers.
"Anybody that works in a school will tell you that each and every day is different and it's meeting the needs of our students," Martinovici said.
The exercise was the yearly surprise drill the MFD runs at each school in the area. Prairie River has a lot of students to get out of the building in a short amount of time. About 660 kids made it outside in just two minutes and 15 seconds.
"It's a large old building and we just want to make sure that we're safe," Martinovici said.
Battalion Chief Mike Drury taped off two stairwells before the drill to simulate fire blocking an exit.
"This is about as close as you can to not put anyone in danger," Drury said. "To put fake smoke in the building doesn't pay, so just to get the teachers and the kids to think. They did an awesome job."
Prairie View practices fire and tornado drills once a month during the school year. In accordance with state law, those drills then get checked off on a sheet. The drills can eat up classroom time, but the staff knows the drills are worth it.
"Children in these schools, you have to do these drills to keep them safe," Drury said.
"I know it's safety and protection, but that is a big priority here," Martinovici said.
Drury calls the middle school one of the "highest-hazard buildings" in town. He said Thursday's exit time was one of the fastest he's seen for a school its size.
CRANDON - Recently, flooding closed roads and frustrated communities from Rhinelander to Plover. A bad combination of rain and melting snow led to days of flood warnings. As those warnings go away, a related risk could do a lot more than frustrate you - it could make you sick. Flooding can cause contamination in wells, but the Northwoods is lucky to have a world-class water testing facility.
RT Krueger's Northern Lake Service in Crandon has about 50 specialized machines that test drinking water for half of the municipalities in Wisconsin. Krueger tests Rhinelander's water three times a week. Every year 65,000 water samples flow in and out of this lab.
"The safe drinking water testing for the city of Madison is being performed up in little tiny Crandon," said Krueger.
Many people have their own wells, which are not tested regularly like municipal water. If your well is submerged due to flooding, filtered groundwater mixes with potentially harmful surface water.
"You're introducing the bacteria and all the compounds and organisms that are normally above the water that you're drawing," said Krueger.
(Suspects identified clockwise, beginning with upper-left: Robert Daniels, Andrew Phillips, Richard Harris, Geraldine Dubray, Allyssa Wamego, Tammy Mann)
A report of a noisy house party and fight near Crandon led to six drug-related arrests earlier this month. Officers eventually found heroin, cocaine, and guns along with other drug items inside, but getting there took some extra work.
According to a release from the Forest County Sheriff's Office, police responded to a home at 7840 Love Knot Lane in the Town of Lincoln, which is east of Crandon, on March 7 around 7:15 p.m.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander man could face prison time after police arrested him in an online underage sex sting. Oneida County prosecutors charged Adam Van Roy with three felonies on Monday.
A Wisconsin Department of Justice Special Agent working with the Oneida County Sheriff's Office posed as a 19-year-old woman named 'Julia G' on several social media applications March 13-15. Van Roy, 36, started talking with 'Julia' during that time.
'Julia' soon told Van Roy she was actually only 15 years old.
The agent's notes show Van Roy asked 'Julia' for pictures, including nude images, and asked her "what do you like in the bedroom?"
MILWAUKEE - Officials say a man shot by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee police on campus is hospitalized in stable condition.
University Police Chief Joe LeMire said at a news conference Tuesday two officers found the man, armed with a gun, sleeping on a bench in the Fine Arts Complex building around 7 a.m., an altercation occurred and he was shot. The police officers were treated for minor injuries.
We talk to a snowplow driver in Lincoln County who says he was attacked with a baseball bat after accidently knocking down a mailbox.
We'll take you to the ribbon cutting for a new utility garage in Stevens Point and show you some sustainable design features that are part of the facility including the largest solar array in Central Wisconsin.
And we'll speak with a water testing specialist in Crandon to go over the importance of testing groundwater especially after there has been flooding in the area.
We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.
PARK FALLS - Shopko announced it would close all of its stores Monday. That leaves many towns and cities across the Northwoods wondering what, if anything, can fill the gap that will create within their local economies.
Some groups in Park Falls plan to try to capitalize on a unique federal tax incentive program. The Park Falls Area Community Development Corporation and area Chamber of Commerce already had a plan to educate people on a fairly new tax benefit program, one that will help create opportunity in the area.
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