RHINELANDER - Bare ground, no snowmobiling, and freezing fingers and toes might seem like the worst of this winter's no-snow problems.
But there's one more - this weather might make your septic system freeze.
By the time temperatures drop this low, there's usually enough snow to insulate the ground.
That's not the case this week.
But you can still prevent problems before you have to call a service company.
"I personally am going to put hay over my septic system," said A-1 Septic Service owner Tom Arts. "A lot of people don't know exactly where their drain field is, or they don't know exactly where the pipe is that goes to the drain field. In a case like that, they're better off to spend a few extra dollars get a little bit more straw and put more straw down."
Putting down four to six inches of straw could save you thousands of dollars.
Another easy fix - reduce foot traffic.
Arts says a lot of people feed deer, let their dogs out, and run vehicles over their drain field.
"That's one of the worst things, because that foot traffic of deer or dogs or even people, for that matter, drives the frost down," he said. "It can create problems."
You'll know when your system freezes when the alarm goes off or when waste water backs up into your lowest point of plumbing.
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."
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.
FERGUSON, MO - A Justice Department report summary has found across-the-board flaws in police's response last summer to the protests in Ferguson, including antagonizing crowds and violating free-speech rights.
The Associated Press obtained the summary, which cites "vague and arbitrary" orders to keep protesters moving that violated their rights of assembly and free speech.
COLUMBUS, OH - A 4-year-old girl who was shot in the leg by an Ohio policeman firing at a dog is recovering after surgery as her family questions how the officer responded.
Columbus police say Ava Ellis was hit accidentally June 19 when an officer fired at a charging dog at a home in suburban Whitehall. Police say another relative had flagged down the officer for help after Ava's mother cut herself on glass.
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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