NEWS STORIES

Oneida County Realizes Big Savings From Insurance, Retirement PlansSubmitted: 10/30/2012

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RHINELANDER - Budgets will go in front of county boards across the Northwoods over the next few weeks.

In Oneida County, the budget will reflect significant savings.

The county saved more than $550,000 last year because of changes to collective bargaining and retirement contributions.

Human Resources director Lisa Charbarneau says some of the changes to health care plans were minor - but the changes resulted in big savings.

"We increased the employees contribution level," Charbarneau said.

"The employees are paying an additional 3 percent towards that premium. We have seen good renewal numbers for 2013 and with some negotiating with our health insurance company and changes to deductibles we're hoping to hold that increase down to less than six percent."

She also said it gives local government a chance to look at multiple options.

"It does give us some more flexibility in order to look at those plan designs and that we can change them more often," Charbarneau said.

"With the contracts in place as they were, we used to have to bargain those changes with each individual union with the county. With if there's six, you could have six different health plans."

The county has also completed work on next year's budget.

It's now heading to the county board for possible amendments.

Charbarneau says this year's budget is even more promising.

"The final budget that is being submitted to the county board is actually below a zero percent tax levy increase," Charbarneau said.

"They've worked very hard to get it to that number. Certainly there can be additional amendments and changes made."

The county board will review the budget next month.

Story By: Matt Doyle

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Library requests bids for expansionSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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EAGLE RIVER - A library in the Northwoods met their fundraising goals for a new addition.

Now the Walter E. Olson Memorial Library in Eagle River could see changes to their original plan.

The Eagle River city council members told the library trustees to look for new bids.

This could result in changes to the design that the library fund-raised for over the past two years.

Design and Build by Visner in Eagle River designed the expansion plan they fund-raised for.

"I think there was some disappointment on the part of the person that created the conceptual design that we fund-raised with," said Library Trustees President Tina Koller. "But they've stepped up to the plate and are willing to participate in the bidding process. So this is where I think we can really move forward today."

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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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Sentencing date released for Lincoln. Co. man convicted of killing wifeSubmitted: 04/23/2014

MERRILL - A Lincoln County man convicted of killing his wife and hiding her body will get his sentence this summer.

50-year-old Mark Bucki was convicted earlier this month in connection to the death and disappearance of his wife Anita.

He was convicted on three charges including first-degree intentional homicide, hiding a body and strangling a person.

The first-degree intentional homicide charge carries a mandatory life in prison sentence, according to Lincoln County Judge Jay Tlusty on the day of the April verdict.

Prosecutors want to add more years on top of the mandatory sentence with additional years from the other two charges.

Bucki will be back in court for his sentencing July 3rd.

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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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Kids learn about hospital Submitted: 04/23/2014

MERRILL - Hospitals can sometimes scare kids and even many adults.

That's why one Northwoods hospital wants those kids to be comfortable with doctors if they ever need their help.

Merrill kindergarteners visited Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center on Wednesday.

The kids got to see an ambulance, physical therapy and x rays.

"We try to show them that you know what, the hospital isn't so scary. And we bring them through different areas that they may experience when they come in or they have a family member here. And a lot of times children, if they don't know, they're very afraid. A hospital can be very intimidating, says Jane Bentz, Director of Foundation and Community Outreach.

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Outside agencies will investigate officer related deathsSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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RHINELANDER - Police departments in Wisconsin will now need to hire an outside agency to investigate deaths that happen in their custody.

Governor Walker signed a bill requiring the outside investigations today.

Lawmakers hope the new law will prevent police departments from protecting their own officers during investigations.

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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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