Late season snow, ice keeping Lakeland-area businesses from getting to workSubmitted: 04/24/2018
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Late season snow, ice keeping Lakeland-area businesses from getting to work
ARBOR VITAE - You won't find Neal Anderson where he'd like to be this time of year: on a lake.  Instead, he mainly stuck in the shop taking out his frustrations on cedar boards with a saw.

"This is where you get the meaning of the term 'pier pressure,'" Anderson said.

The Northland Docks owner traditionally likes to have his team wearing waders and putting docks in on area lakes this week, but with more than a foot of ice still on many lakes, they're pretty much stuck on shore.

"It's not common, it's bad," Anderson said.

Anderson, whose family owned a resort on Big Arbor Vitae Lake, says the average ice-out hit on April 15. The latest he recalls seeing there was two days before Memorial Day.  

Anderson estimates he's about a month behind schedule in 2018 due to all the remaining ice. His company places about 500 sections of docks each year, with most existing ones in by that Memorial Day weekend.  

But after the summer of 2017's especially high water forced Anderson to make a lot of dock repairs, he's facing a new problem of not being able to get on the water.  As of Tuesday, his workers could only place sections on the shoreline to eventually be put in the water.

"I think we'll lose a lot of new sales," Anderson said. "People that are maybe going to buy something new this year, they'll say, 'Ah, we'll just kick that can down the road,' possibly."

Down the road -- or cart path -- you'll find an equally frustrated golf pro.

"Looking at all this snow after a long winter, I'm ready for spring, no doubt," Trout Lake Head Golf Pro Mike Osborne said.

In his 16th year with the Arbor Vitae course, Osborne remembers opening Trout Lake on April 14 last year. On April 24 this year, most of his tee boxes are still hidden under a half-foot of snow.  Osborne's team has kept busy by power-washing golf carts, preparing the clubhouse, and sorting through new merchandise.

Osborne says the melting snow will actually help hydrate the course.

"We don't want any more ice," Osborne said.  "We want melting and no freezing."

With covers on all his greens, Osborne expects the course to open by May 9 -- the latest opening date he's ever had.

"We don't want people to come out and be disappointed in our product, so we're going to make sure that we're good and ready to go, so one or two days isn't going to make a big difference," Osborne said.

Back at Northland Docks, Anderson can always kill the time he's waiting on by building more docks, but he knows when the ice goes his team will need to make a splash.

"We'll just attack, you know? As soon as the lakes thaw out, we'll attack and go after it," Anderson said.

Anderson says his workers can install an eight-section dock in about an hour and a half, but the month-long delay likely means many docks won't be in until well into June.

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VILAS COUNTY - Two people were sent to the hospital after a rollover crash in Vilas County early Tuesday morning.

At 1:38 am the Vilas County Sheriff's Office got a call of a one-vehicle rollover on Highway 70 near Lake Road in the Town of Washington.

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RHINELANDER - Every job requires some level of training. That's especially true when your job is to save other peoples' lives.

But even with the desire, becoming an emergency medical responder doesn't happen overnight.

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WASHINGTON D.C. - More than a hundred veterans just wrapped up a once in a lifetime experience. 

The 34th Never Forgotten Honor Flight had an unexpected delay Monday, a surprise meet and greet, and many more unforgettable moments.

From beginning to end the Honor Flight was filled with ceremony and gratitude.

"To see all those hundreds of people applauding us in the [D.C.] airport was the most moving thing," said Vietnam veteran Gill Buettner, who served in the Air Force.

"It seemed like the whole city was there to greet us," said Vietnam veteran Ernest Harris, who served in the Army. 

There was an unexpected stop in Pittsburgh due to bad weather.

"I think we lost about an hour fifteen, an hour and a half there," said Vietnam veteran Larry Anklam, who served in the Air Force. 

But the rest of the day went off without a hitch.

"You get to see some things otherwise we'd never get to see," said Buettner. 

The veterans got to see the Vietnam, Korea, and Air Force memorials among many more. The group also met the founders of the Honor Flight program, who were honored at a wreath laying ceremony. 

"To hear their story, that was special too, and nobody is likely to ever have that opportunity," said Buettner.
It's a day the 103 veterans will never forget.

"It was just super," said Harris. 

They hope all veterans get a chance to experience it.

"If you served, you really do deserve it and you ought to go, and you don't have to be a combat vet, you just have to have helped something along the way," said Buettner. 

Tune into Newswatch 12 at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. for the rest of the week to see stories about a World War II veteran, the one and only female veteran on the flight, and another, who at the last minute, got to bring his grandson along as his guardian.

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MERRILL - Someone stole the tires and rims off nine vehicles at a dealership near Merrill this week.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office reports the thefts happened early Monday morning at Stark Automotive along Highway 51.  Surveillance footage shows a white cargo van going into the lot around 1 a.m. on Oct. 15.  The suspects used a device to raise the trucks off the ground.

One of the vehicles slipped off the device, hit the van's bumper, and may have caused damage.

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PARK FALLS - Last month, Vilas County supervisors rejected the idea of hiring a county administrator.

An administrator would take care of the day-to-day operations of the county. However, surveys showed the board had little interest in that plan.

But the city of Park Falls might want to give a city administrator a try.

"It's just a silly way to run a $6 million enterprise," said Alderman Michael Bablick of Park Falls' system that foregoes a full-time administrator.

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RHINELANDER - Some giant pumpkins are standing out in Rhinelander.
A few are even homegrown.

Glenn Bessey owns Bessey's Meat Market in Rhinelander but that's not all he's known for.

"I belong to Wisconsin Giant Pumpkin Growers," said Bessey. "The biggest pumpkin I ever grew was 680 [pounds] and that was 12 years ago."

Growing his current 380 pound gourd takes a lot more effort than just some fertilizer.

"It pretty much is a full time job," said Bessey.

This year, his pumpkin means a little more to him than just another powerful pumpkin.

"My father has always been growing pumpkins and once he passed away this winter, I got back into growing giant pumpkins," said Bessey.

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BARRON - Update:

Authorities say a Wisconsin teenager who has been missing since her parents were found dead in their home isn't a runaway and that they think she's in danger.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said during a media briefing Tuesday that he can't reveal why authorities believe 13-year-old Jayme Closs is in danger because it could compromise the investigation. But he repeated his plea for the public's help in finding her.

Deputies responding to a 911 call found the bodies of 56-year-old James Closs and 46-year-old Denise Closs at around 1 a.m. Monday in their home in the western Wisconsin town of Barron. No cause of death has been released but authorities said gunshots had been fired.

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