Vilas Co. yet to have a snowmobile death as fatal crashes happen across state; county takes pride in new programsSubmitted: 02/11/2019
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Vilas Co. yet to have a snowmobile death as fatal crashes happen across state; county takes pride in new programs
EAGLE RIVER - Snowmobile crashes killed five people in Wisconsin over the weekend, bringing this winter's number of deaths to 14.

Surprisingly, none of those deaths have come in Vilas Co. It's had at least one death in four straight winters, and has led the state in snowmobile injuries each of the last four years on record.

But Vilas Co. is hoping those streak will end.

Taverns in the area might be part of the solution.

Buckshot's Saloon north of Eagle River sits just across from a Vilas Co. snowmobile trail. It's an official trail pit stop, welcoming snowmobilers in.

"Last week and this week, we're seeing everybody. The trails are in great shape," said owner Dan Ullsperger.

Ullsperger looks forward to snowmobilers coming for a bite and a drink, but he also looks for signs that riders shouldn't be riding.

"How are they walking? How are they talking? The conversation, are they slurring words?" he said.

Ullsperger helped start the Vilas Co. Tavern League's SafeRide program two years ago, offering free taxi rides for inebriated drivers and riders. In 2017, the last year DNR statistics were available, 4 in 5 snowmobile deaths had alcohol involved.

"If you're choosing to consume intoxicants, please be responsible," said Vilas Co. Sheriff's Capt. Gerry Ritter.

Ritter said Vilas Co. has had some close calls this winter, but no deaths yet. He credits a trail numbering system as one safety improvement.

"Dispatch will have an exact location where the incident is, which helps emergency responders get to the scene a lot faster than they used to," Ritter said.

Numbering systems, education, and sheer luck have played into the state's gradual drop in snowmobile deaths in the past decade-plus.

So has a 55-mile-per-hour nighttime speed limit, which went into effect shortly after 37 people died in 2005.

Ullsperger wants the business from riders, but also wants the death number to be zero.

"I don't care if you're riding a snowmobile, UTV, ATV in the summertime, or getting in a car, if you're inebriated and I see it, I'm going to do everything I can to not have you get in that vehicle and drive it home," he said.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com

What We're Working OnSubmitted: 04/23/2019

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The attorney for Robin Mendez today tried to convince the jury that another man, one who was upset with Mendez's wife, could have been the one who killed her back in 1982. You'll hear some of the testimony from a witness who may have seen that man the night of the murder.

Plus, some Rhinelander residents have been without phone, internet and cable services for about 2 weeks, and they want some answers from Frontier. We'll bring you the details and talk with some of those frustrated customers.

We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

MERCER - The five current and former Mercer school board members charged with class I felonies will not face jail time after their charges were dropped.

Denise Thompson, Kelly Kohegyi, Noel Brandt, Micki Holmstrom, and Deanna Pierpont all appeared in court for the first time and learned Monday that all of their charges were dismissed.

+ Read More

Play Video

PHILLIPS - A Northwoods organization that aims to help domestic abuse and sexual assault survivors now offers it's services online. Thanks to RAINN, a national anti-sexual assault group, Embrace can now host anonymous support groups for survivors.

Embrace serves Price, Rusk, Washburn, and Barron counties. Domestic Violence Program Coordinator Angela Frieze says it can be hard to get people to attend in-person support groups. 

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - An 18-year-old nursing assistant accused of sexually assaulting at least two elderly patients pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Jacob Schlosser was in Oneida County court for his arraignment, facing three 2nd-degree sexual assault felonies.

He was first charged with sexually assaulting an 80-year-old patient during bath time at Avanti in Minocqua last month.  Two days after police started their investigation, another patient came forward saying Schlosser assaulted them, too.

Schlosser is free on a $2,000 cash bond.

He faces up to 120 years in prison if convicted.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - In thinking about which color goes best with their red superhero shirts Monday, Eagle River Walgreens employees decided white fit rather nicely.  But getting chosen to fling pies filled with white whipped cream didn't exactly leave Bri Sandrone green with envy.

"I actually didn't want to, I wanted to have somebody else do it," Sandrone explained, with a laugh.

Wearing her "everyday superhero" cape and shirt, Sandrone found the courage to toss the pies in her bosses' faces.

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - According to a Nestle frozen foods representative, Wisconsin ranks number one per capita in frozen pizza consumption in the United States. A lot of the best-selling brands are based in the badger state. 

Orv's, Brew Pub, and Roma pizza brands are all made by Bernatello's Foods in Outagamie County. Bernatello's National Sales Manager Denny Terrance said frozen pizza has become a staple food in Wisconsin.

"A lot of that is based towards the quality of the meats that you see on the market these days, the premium toppings that you see," said Terrance.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - At Monday's common council meeting in Rhinelander, multiple city employees spoke about their concerns regarding what they call a hostile work environment.

+ Read More
+ More General News