Door-knockers, mailers try to make impression as mining vote nears in Oneida Co.Submitted: 11/01/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Door-knockers, mailers try to make impression as mining vote nears in Oneida Co.
ONEIDA COUNTY - Pete Zambon and seven other volunteers have done it more than 500 times in Rhinelander in the last three weeks.

Knock on a door, and start a conversation about mining.

Zambon and volunteers in the Protect the Willow organization in Oneida County feel confident next week's vote will go their way. They're hoping people will vote "no" on an advisory referendum on sulfide mining in the Town of Lynne.

Zambon had never canvassed before this fall. He now likes it.

"I found it was really fun, talking to local citizens, local community members who I didn't already know," Zambon said Thursday.

His message to voters?

The county's water, wildlife, and recreation are too precious to vote yes on considering a sulfide mine in Lynne.

"When you can talk to somebody, and give them your personal reasons why you care, and they can see that you're being genuine, and they see that you're a real human being, it makes a different kind of an impact," Zambon said.

As Zambon walks and knocks, he sees blue and white yard signs made by his group, telling voters to Protect the Willow. They're all over the county.

"I'm seeing signs line the roads and it's a very good feeling," said Jeff Brown, another group member. "People are becoming aware of what the concern is, and how what happens in Lynne might affect their neighborhoods in another part of the county."

There are few yard signs supporting the referendum. But there are plenty of mailings.

The mailers are from the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Issues Mobilization Council. They tell readers state law protects the environment from irresponsible mining. In one ad, deer stare into the camera, with text telling the reader to vote "yes."

Sugar Camp's Taylor Pitlik doesn't need convincing. She's sure about her support.

"A lot of people have come to me asking, 'What do you think, how does this work?'" Pitlik said Thursday.

They ask her because Pitlik just graduated from Michigan Tech University with an engineering degree and studies in mining.

"I think it's helpful knowing that a girl from the Northwoods and [who] moved back here is interested in hearing the options. It kind of opens their mind to, 'oh, maybe, what is the modern mining industry like today?'" she said. "People fear that, yeah, the next day, a company will come in, start digging, things like that. That just doesn't happen."

Pitlik wants the door to stay open to mining. She'd like to hear the options. After all, it could mean a job for her in the future.

"I think it would be a great opportunity for me and other young adults in the area for a job," Pitlik said.

The referendum will be on ballot next Tuesday for Oneida County voters. The county board is not bound to follow the wishes of voters.

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VILLAGE OF HEWITT - Monday around 7 A.M. Wood County police responded to a man who was run over by a dump truck in the Village of Hewitt.

When the police arrived they were informed by emergency responders that the man's injuries were fatal.

The victim of the accident was 77-years-old.

Police have ruled the death as an accident, and it was determined that the subjects involved were performing maintenance on the dump truck when the accident happened.

The Wood County Sheriff's Department, Hewitt EMS, Marshfield Ambulance, and the Wood County Coroner's Office all responded to the accident.

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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?"

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 03/19/2019

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

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.

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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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