MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says the 2012 Wisconsin bear harvest was the second-highest on record.
Hunters registered 4,400 black bears during the 2012 season. That's second only to the 5,133 bears registered in 2010. Hunters killed 4,257 bears in Wisconsin last year.
DNR big-game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang says bears live primarily in the northern third and the central forest area of Wisconsin. But Wallenfang says in recent years, the animals have become more common in many central and southern counties.
Bear hunters have until midnight on Dec. 10 to apply for a harvest permit for the 2013 hunting season or preference point for future years. The number of permits available for the 2013 black bear hunt has not yet been determined.
FOND DU LAC - A police standoff has ended in Fond du Lac with a man in custody.
Officials say the standoff outside an apartment may be connected to a house fire in the city Monday morning. Police tell WBAY-TV (http://bit.ly/18wYmYO) that a man holed up in an apartment fired shots at officers, but no one was hurt.
Police negotiators were able to talk to the man on the phone and get him to leave the building and surrender. He was taken into custody without incident.
Authorities say the man in the apartment is a ``person of interest'' in the fire at a two-story house elsewhere in the city.
Police have cleared the scene and say no explosives or anyone else was found in the apartment. Neighbors can return to their homes.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander employee union believes the city illegally rejected their collective bargaining agreement,now they’re suing the city.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1226 represents City of Rhinelander workers from public works, wastewater, parks, water and golf course employees. They filed suit against the city on Dec. 4, 2013.
The union says they reached a tentative agreement for a new collective bargaining agreement in early December 2012. But according court documents, the union claims the city council illegally rejected the agreement and didn’t tell the union about it.
Aaron Halstead, from Madison-based firm Hawks Quindel, S.C., has been a labor lawyer for more than 20 years and says he has never seen a municipality do something like this before.
"I've never had any municipality do what the city did here which is to reject an agreement with the union, despite the fact that they had an agreement on all of the terms," Halstead said.
The union believes the city is violating Wisconsin Municipal Employment Relations Act. In 2012, city workers asked for a one percent wage increase starting January 1,2013.
Halstead said the city and union agreed to that increase in their tentative agreement. According to the group's complaint, the city council rejected the tentative collective bargaining agreement, but passed the one percent wage increase as a resolution.
But the union claims the collective bargaining agreement wasn’t renewed. Instead the group says the city passed a resolution putting the terms into a personnel manual.
Rhinelander city council met Monday night to discuss how to move forward once the city is formally served with lawsuit.
"I think it's unfortunate. We have a good relationship with the union, and a good relationship with the employees," said Blaine Oborn, Rhinelander city administrator. "We have a lot of outstanding employees. So unfortunately, with all this ambiguity [concerning] Acts 10 and 32, I think that this kind of stuff unfortunately [happens]."
The complaint also claims that the city reduced the wages of newly hired people by $4 an hour. They say this violates the terms of the parties' tentative agreement. Halstead says they still haven't received an explanation.
"The city contends that it doesn't have to, but it has never provided a satisfactory answer as to what it is that is objectionable about the agreement that was reached," Halstead said.
Monday nights' meeting was a closed session.
The city will have three weeks to respond to the complaint.
RHINELANDER - “This time of year is just a little different because the pressure is more,” says Anthony Turek, Rhinelander Postmaster. “Christmas is coming we’re a little over 2 weeks away I think right around two weeks and this is it.”
Its crunch time at the Post Office. With Christmas fast approaching it’s important to keep a few things in mind when sending packages this holiday season.
“You’re going to want to take your packages and gently shake them a little, just to make sure that you are comfortable that they’re packaged tightly and securely so that nothing happens to them,” says Turek.
First don’t be a procrastinator! It’s never too early to start sending out your packages.
Also remember to write neatly. Make sure and double check the shipping address and return address is correct.
Lastly you’re going to want to keep a few dates in mind. If you want your mail to be delivered by Christmas Eve you need to send it out by December 20th unless you want to pay more for priority mail.
“So those are just a couple things that people want to do to make it so that the packages that they send here end up where they’re supposed to go on time and safely,” says Turek.
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