Proposed scenic byway takes step forward with planning meetingSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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MOLE LAKE - You can drive along plenty of scenic stretches of roads across Northern Wisconsin.

However, the state of Wisconsin only considers one stretch of highway in the Northwoods as an official scenic byway.

Leaders in a handful of counties want to change that by earning a distinction from Wisconsin's Scenic Byways program. They held a public planning meeting in Mole Lake Wednesday.

The proposed scenic highway, The Wolf River Nicolet Scenic Byway, is a more than 100 mile stretch of Highway 55. It stretches from Langlade, in Langlade County, north to the Michigan boarder.

Richard Ackley, Board of Directors Northwoods NIIJII Enterprise Community, has worked with the project since the early stages. He believes the distinction could serve as a marketing tool.

"People love coming here because of the pristine beauty," Ackley said. "What we want to do is, we want to enhance that with making it even better through a more structured promotion."

The byway project has passed the scenic evaluation portion of the process. It scored a 7.2 on an eight point scale based on pure scenic value. The scoring system adds points for natutal beauty, while docking points for things like build boards along the route.

Dennis Leong, Wisc. Department of Transportation (WisDOT), says that's a very strong number.

"For that type of score, people are coming to the area with an expectation of something extraordinary, so something more scenic than they would probably see," Leong said. "I think they'll probably see that when they come to this region of the state."

WisDOT leaders say the area and stretch of road is very unique compared to the four official scenic routes in Wisconsin.

"This is very unique because this is more a more natural setting, the other ones have been more tourists orientated over the years," Leong said. "I drove this and it seems to be more natural in the state and type of amenities it has."

Leong does note that there's still more to do to finish the second and final part of the project.

"So the next thing is now they have to get together and kind of manage the corridor," Leong said. (We ask) how are you going to promote that corridor, and what things did you want to say about drawing people to the area?"

Project leaders hoped the meeting Wednesday would help get more support from the community.

"The challenge that we have is making sure that everybody is knowledgeable about what the benefits will be and how everyone has a role to play," Ackley said. "We want everyone's input in making the scenic byway a success."

WisDOT leaders say 70 percent of the communities along the byway will need to approve the project.

The Wolf River Nicolet Scenic Byway on Highway 55 would be the first in North Central Wisconsin.

Wisconsin started designating scenic byways in 2005. A 1999 state law, Wisconsin Act 9, directed WisDOT to form and administer a state Scenic Byways program.

The four current byways are as follows;
- The Great River Road (WIS 35) between Prescott and Kieler;
- The Lower Wisconsin River Road (WIS 60) between Lodi and Prairie du Chien;
- The Door County Coastal Byway (WIS 42 & 57) circling the northern Door County peninsula
- The Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway (WIS 13) from US 2 to County H in northwest Wisconsin.

Story By: Adam Fox

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Home sales on the rise in the NorthwoodsSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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NORTHWOODS - Home sales fell in the state of Wisconsin, but they're on the rise in the Northwoods.

Real Estate experts say home sales are up 5% in Oneida County. Home sales for the Northwoods are up 4%. Experts say right now it's a buyers market.

If you're a seller right now you are probably going to be seeing some low ball offers, says Ashlei Highfill, Century 21 Sales Associate. We just encourage people to respond to any offer that they get not to just reject it or be offended but these days we are seeing a lot of buyers coming in and offering a lot less than what sellers are asking for.

Experts say fewer homes are being foreclosed. This allows more families to make first time home purchases.

Its great to see that people are obviously getting back to work so they can afford to take that opportunity to put their family in their first home it's exciting for all of us, says Highfill. We're always happy to see somebody get that first house for their kids we're seeing some people that are making more money now so they're buying a move up house.

Overall home sales in Wisconsin fell 11% compared to this time last year.

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Army tank on the way Submitted: 04/23/2014

WOODRUFF - You can find an Cobra helicopter outside the VFW in Hurley.

They use the machine as a symbol to honor veterans.

Now another Northwoods community plans on using war machine to honor veterans.

VFW Post 7898 will soon get an army tank.

The tank will be right off of highway 47, between the post office and Aspirus Woodruff Clinic.

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Man accused of stealing cars and taking them across state linesSubmitted: 04/23/2014

MARSHFIELD - Police believe a Marshfield man stole three cars in Illinois and brought them to Wisconsin.

He now faces four charges of stealing cars and taking them across state borders.

Police say Bradley Greene, 28, stole three cars in December 2013.

They also accuse him of stealing $5,000 worth of other items.

Those included a car hauler trailer, a flatbed trailer and trailer accessories.

Greene faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison on each count.

The charges against him are from an investigation by the Marshfield Police Department and Northern Illinois Auto Theft Task Force, according to a Department of Justice press release.

The prosecution of this case will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Anderson.

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State increases fines for parking in handicap spotsSubmitted: 04/23/2014

MADISON - It will soon be three times more costly for drivers to park illegally in a disability parking spot in Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Wednesday increasing those fines starting Friday.

The new law will increase minimum fines from $50 to $150. The current maximum penalty of $300 won't change.

The law also creates a fine for building owners to not provide enough disability parking spaces on site. Building owners or occupants with at least 26 parking spaces must reserve disabled parking spaces or pay between $150 and $300.

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Home sales down in Wisconsin for MarchSubmitted: 04/23/2014

MADISON - Home sales in Wisconsin fell 11 percent in March compared to the same period a year ago.

The chilly winter might be part of the reason.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association says the spring selling season got off to a slow start.

Things might improve along with the weather.

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It's time to start looking out for ticksSubmitted: 04/22/2014

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RHINELANDER - It may not feel like summer just yet, but it is time to start thinking about tick prevention.

The peak season for ticks is May through August, but healthcare professionals suggest you be on the lookout as soon as the snow melts.

Last year there were 153 reported cases of tick-borne illnesses in Oneida County alone.

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Family Care program to expandSubmitted: 04/22/2014

MADISON - A state program that provides in-home care for the elderly and disabled will expand to seven more Wisconsin counties.

Republican Governor Scott Walker announced in December of 2011 his administration would lift an enrollment cap on Family Care.

The program was also to be expanded to the 15 counties that don't currently offer it.

Walker said Monday the state is finally ready to start expanding the program to Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto and Shawano counties.

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Northern Wisconsin fishermen can now keep largemouth bassSubmitted: 04/21/2014

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RHINELANDER - Fishermen in northern Wisconsin can keep largemouth bass this season.

This is the first time in 22 years fishermen won't have to release the fish.

Under old restrictions, fishermen had to release largemouth bass from the season opener until the third Saturday in June.

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