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Board hopes to get permanent flag on Rhinelander cell phone towerSubmitted: 01/17/2013
Story By Hayley Tenpas


RHINELANDER - Look up almost anywhere in Rhinelander and you see it-- a 138-foot tall flagpole.

But right now there's no flag, just the pole.

If the Parking and Advisory Board gets its way, you'll see a permenent flag on it this spring. The structure doubles as a cell phone tower owned by AT&T.

At Wednesday night's Parking and Advisory meeting the board discussed the latest proposal from AT&T.

The company wants a long term lease, but the board needs to fix some flag issues first.

"That we kinda have their attention and we have to say, this thing needs to be straightened out so that we can raise and lower a flag properly in proper times and get this thing up so that it can be up the way it should be," board chairman Mark Pelletier said.

The board also hopes to add a little color to the base of the flagpole. That means a mural, and last night's meeting looked at the possibility of getting one painted this spring.

"The initial plan was to have a mural painted the following year, cover everything up and go to something new," Pelletier said. "Maybe hopefully get local groups involved in it and everything."

The board hopes to partner up with the Nicolet College art department for the mural.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

MOLE LAKE - When you drive through Mole Lake, you'll notice a lot of solar panels.

It's part of a project tribal leaders have worked on for more than a year, and they hope it will save the community a lot in energy costs.

Tribal leaders applied and received a couple million dollars in grants from the U.S. Energy Department and the Housing and Urban Development Department. Then they started working with a Pewaukee-based company called SunVest Solar, Inc., and started installing the panels on homes and businesses in 
September.

Now, they are almost done.

According to SunVest Solar, this is the largest per capital solar array installation in the Midwest. Tribal Administrator Jeff Ackley, Jr., says 50 homes and 17 businesses have solar panels.

"Most of the state of Wisconsin has less than one percent of its generation coming from solar and now you have a community where almost 50 percent of the homes get their power from the sun," said Adam Gusse, head of operations at SunVest Solar, Inc.

"I thought it would put us on the map," Ackley said.

Project leaders think the panels can produce up to 85 percent of power in homes and between 20 and 60 percent for businesses.

"It will be significant savings all around for the community," Ackley said. "From rough crunchings of numbers we're looking at probably saving between $60,000 and $80,000 per year on energy usage."

The first batch of panels turned on in November, and some people say they've already seen the savings.

"Some are seeing up to $100 in savings just after that first month," Gusse said. "So they'll see much more per month savings as they go on."

Gusse said the panels don't produce as much power in the winter as they will in the summer, but residents still save money.

Tribal leaders can apply for more grants to put panels on more homes. 

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TOMAHAWK - High schoolers in Tomahawk sat across from local business professionals on Wednesday, answering questions in an interview setting.

The mock interview event is one of many that high school teacher Olivia Dachel helped create. Earlier this month, Gov. Scott Walker honored Dachel and 14 other Wisconsin people and organizations with a Governor's Financial Literacy Award.

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EAGLE RIVER - Patti Underhill spends her days crafting.

"Basically I like to sew," she said. "When I was young, I made my own Barbie doll clothes and my mom showed me how to sew."

It's a hobby that--now in her retirement--is paying off for Underhill in small ways. She is one of 29 vendors who volunteers her time to work in the Eagle River Serve Senior Craft Shop. Vendors keep 70 percent of the profits, and the other 30 percent goes back to the shop or includes sales tax.

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RHINELANDER - It seemed like Rhinelander could finally start looking for a new city administrator. But the City Council will now consider another option, one that could potentially create a longer wait to fill an important job.

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THREE LAKES - Students in Three Lakes now have a new option for winter recess. This year the Three Lakes Park District donated an ice skating rink to the Three Lakes Elementary School. The Three Lakes Fire Department and other members of the community joined in to put the rink together.

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