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Two counties speak out against shoreline zoning changes in the state budgetSubmitted: 06/30/2015
VILAS COUNTY - Earlier this month, legislators put a proposal into the state budget that would take away a county's ability to make its own shoreline zoning regulations. Here in the Northwoods, two counties have come out against that proposal.

If the state budget went through as it's written right now, individual counties and lake associations could lose their power to set zoning regulations. That's a big issue for many in the Northwoods. Vilas County alone has 1,300 lakes. The proposal has caused great concerns.

"The concern was that the proposal had the potential for doing great damage to the environment, had the potential for causing a severe problem as far as assessment procedures, and generally was opposed by the citizens-the residents-of this county," said Chuck Hayes, a Vilas County supervisor.

Vilas and Oneida counties both held board meetings last week. Both counties voted to ask for removal of zoning changes from the budget. They argue the issue of shoreline zoning was never given any time to be discussed.

"At the very least, I think the public should have had a chance to weigh in on this issue that affects the environment," said Hayes. "The counties, the municipalities and individual residents, their opinion wasn't sought on this. It was simply put in."

County officials and lake associations argue that one of the biggest issues facing their counties is the harm that could be done by reducing building restrictions.

"If the building is extended vertically, there's no way of knowing that the existing septic system is adequate, because there's no inspection and no permit needed," said Hayes. "So there's all sorts of ways that by eliminating permits - inspection approval regulations - at the county or town level, that more damage can be done to the environment."

Some people fear the proposal could hurt water quality, which they think could negatively affect tourism in those counties.

Supporters of the proposal say that this change would give land owners more freedom to do things with their lakefront property.

Today is the last day of the state's fiscal year. That means the new budget should be in place, but legislatures have pushed off votes, and no new dates are set.

Story By: Anthony Bruno

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 LOCAL NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 06/30/2015

- Find out how a local group is trying to help the endangered Monarch Butterfly population.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander group wants to protect an endangered butterfly. The Monarch March works to save the beautiful monarch butterflies.

The butterfly is in danger because people remove milkweed from their yards. Milkweed is also removed from public ground spaces as well.

Monarchs need milkweed for food and a place to lay their eggs.

"That's the problem with the monarch; it only survives on milkweed," said Paula Larson, founder of Monarch March. "So every time you cut down milkweed, every time the highway mows down all the milkweed on the sides of the roads, they are killing hundreds of caterpillars."

A major part of the work done by Monarch March is to collect eggs and raise them until they become butterflies. The process takes about four to five weeks.

Leaders of the group believe everyone can do simple things to protect the butterflies.

"Do not cut down milkweed; plant milkweed. It's really good for gardens to become a butterfly habitat," said Larson.

The new butterflies should hatch in about two weeks. An exhibit with the caterpillars can be seen at Curran Professional Park in Rhinelander.

For more information, check out Monarch March on Facebook.

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RHINELANDER - A local doctor proudly calls the Northwoods his home.

Some of Doctor Greg Michals' life experiences led him to make the decision to become a chiropractor.

"There was these car accidents that I got involved with in high school," Michals said. "It was three of them I got in senior year. Usually I tell people I wasn't driving; I had a poor taste in friends."

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MANITOWISH WATERS - For years people in Vilas and Iron counties fought over how to manage water levels on the Manitowish River and the Manitowish Chain of Lakes.

The Rest Lake Dam controls how much water fills several lakes, rivers, and the Turtle Flambeau Flowage.

Now, legislators in Madison might be the ones to decide where the water goes.

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WISCONSIN - A court can require drivers convicted of multiple drunk driving offenses to install an ignition interlock device, or IID, in their cars. The drivers then must blow into the IID to check their blood alcohol level in order for their cars to start. Some drivers, of course, don't want to pay to have the device installed, but a proposed new law may increase fines for people who fail to install it.

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WAUSAU - Kids who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities can't use most playgrounds. One Wausau family wants to change that.

The Hoerter family has big plans for Wausau's new accessible playground. The 30,000- to 50,000-square foot play area, called JoJo's Jungle, will give every child the opportunity to play.

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RHINELANDER -

An expert will now decide if 17-year-old Ashlee Martinson is mentally fit to stand trial for allegedly killing her mother and stepfather in their home east of Rhinelander in March. Martinson plead not guilty by reason of mental defect Monday.




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