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Republicans Up Environmental Protections in Mining Bill, Dems say it's Not EnoughSubmitted: 02/05/2013
Story By Associated Press

MADISON - Republican supporters of a bill to make it easier to open a new iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin say they've made changes to better protect the environment.

But Democrats don't agree calling the changes "baby steps'' that don't do enough to protect the state's water and natural resources.

Democratic Sen. Tim Cullen said the changes made the proposal slightly better, but there was a long way to go.

One of the changes calls for the state to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The main concern is related to the timeline of permitting a mine.


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"We drove all over Wausau trying to find some, and we couldn't find any," said Zerbe.

Instead of just ordering some off the internet, Zerbe and his girlfriend, Dana Buehler, decided to make their own.

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ANTIGO - You can spot plenty of wildlife in orthern Wisconsin. However, you don't typically see a black belly barbado sheep or a royal palm turkey.

You can go check them out at the new It's All Good Farmstand and Petting Zoo right off Highway 45 in Antigo.

The It's All Good Farmstand and Petting Zoo has a simple goal. It wants people to see interesting animals.
"We decided, what the heck, we should open something to the public to so that everybody that does not have farm critters and enjoy them like we do, can come in and pet the critters and learn a lot of stuff," said owner Cheryl Wirz.

Wirz decided to have her family be part of her staff. It's something she really enjoys.

"I love the fact that my kids are here and they're getting a hands on experience," said Wirz.

"I mostly help load and unload the animals from home to here. Also, I fill up all the water when we get here, and I run the food booth," said staff member and son Aiden Wirz.

That all adds up to work for their kids and there are some perks to working for your parents.

"Mostly, they can't fire me," said Aiden, laughing.

Most animals look familiar to the guests when they come right up to them, but what about the specific breeds?

"We try to promote rare and critically endangered breeds of farm animals. Most people don't even know what they are," said Cheryl Wirz.

The Wirz family is also passionate about the quality of food for their animals.

"We do all organic produce and all of our critters eat all organic. In fact, we grow most of their food," said Cheryl Wirz.

Some young kids might be a litte nervous of the animals at first, but the friendly staff is there to help.

"Little ones will be really nervous and scared, but after awhile they're calmed down and they really love it," said staff member Natasha Lewer.

Even with all the hard work that goes into owning a farm, the happy visitors make it all worth it.

"They light up when they're in there. We had a gentleman that was in a wheelchair and all the animals surrounded him and he was just smiling from ear to ear," said Cheryl Wirz.

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MERRILL - Bryson Cruise hopes the watermelon he blew up Friday morning is the closest anyone gets to an injury this weekend.

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"It becomes a pretty busy weekend pretty quick," Cruise said.

Friday, Cruise and members of the Merrill Fire Department set off mortar shells and firecrackers demonstrating how quickly a fun holiday activity can turn into a trip to the ER.

"About 55 percent of those are related to your hands, arms, legs, kind of the extremities of your body," Cruise said.

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RHINELANDER - If you shopped at Walmart in Rhinelander this summer, you probably noticed things weren't where they usually belong.

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MINOCQUA - The campus at Lakeland Union High School will add an iconic piece to the area. The school is looking at different places to put the old T-Bird Country Bridge.

The bridge is in the process of being removed because it isn't tall enough. A group then donated it to LUHS.

The school is now looking at three different options on where to put it.

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