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NEWS STORIES

Will It Pass? Submitted: 02/05/2013
Story By Lex Gray & Kira Lynne

Will It Pass?
THREE LAKES - Educating our children costs money.

But like many of us in this economy, school districts are struggling financially.

Add to that an aging population, declining enrollment, and less money from the state.

It's a tough equation - that's why Rhinelander, Three Lakes and Northland Pines school districts are asking taxpayers for more money.

All three districts go to a referendum vote on February 19.

Newswatch 12's Lex Gray and Kira Lynne went to each district to find out why they need the money and why you need to vote.

Since 1978, Steve Schacht has been teaching and counseling Three Lakes students.

He's seen a lot of changes. Expectations have changed.

"When I was a youngster, high school diploma was everything you needed," Schacht said. "That's not the case anymore."

Politics have changed.

"The change in Madison, the change with Act 10, has not exactly helped people's perception on teachers and education," he said.

The funding formula has changed, too.

At this point, we're penalized because we have a lot of expensive homes on the lake," Schacht said. "Yet our taxpayers are not the highest paid in the area."

But the one constant? Three Lakes pride.

"I think the message that we like to tell our students is, when you leave Three Lakes, you have the ability to do anything you want."

But it seems that's part of the problem people leave Three Lakes and they don't come back. Enrollment in the district has been sliding since 1998.

Declining enrollment doesn't mean a declining education. ACT scores have gone up here.

In fact, Three Lakes has the highest ACT scores in our area.

But those ACT scores don't get the district any more money.

Three Lakes is headed to its fourth referendum in ten years.

"Our community has given our kids the best gift they can, which is a good, solid education," Schacht said. "I trust that they'll do the right thing this year and also pass the referendum."

The odds are in the district's favor. The last vote passed by 74 percent.

The district is telling homeowners a "Yes" vote will cost $58 per year for a $100,000 home.

But a "no" vote could cost even more.

"If we can't fund education, the Three Lakes School District might cease to exist," Schacht said.

Three Lakes could be absorbed by either Rhinelander or Northland Pines both at a higher cost than staying independent.

No matter what, taxes will go up.

"It's a tough sell. No one would like to see their taxes go up, no one wants to pay any taxes," Schacht said. "But if you have to pay taxes, the most important one in my mind is education."

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 IN OTHER NEWS

MINOCQUA -
You can help the Oneida County Dive Team by grabbing your goggles and swim cap Saturday (June 23) morning.

Swimmers will launch from Torpy Park for the Minocqua Island Swim Challenge.

The race is one mile long, but people can choose to swim just 400 meters, too.

The water temperature will be about 65 degrees during the race.

"A lot of people will wear wet suits and be very comfortable. I have seen plenty of people go without and have no trouble," says Laura Fuhrman.

Money raised from the race will go to Oneida County's dive team.

They are first responders to water rescue calls.

"We just got our dark vision gear last year through fundraisers like this. It helps us be more efficient and safe," says Assistant Dive Team Leader, Michael Fraley.

You still have time to register in person Friday night from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Torpy Park.

Click below for more info.

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CHIPPEWA FALLS - A World War II veteran who spent more than a year as a prisoner of war is finally being awarded the Purple Heart.

The Leader-Telegram reports that 94-year-old Max Bergen will receive the medal Friday. The Wisconsin man says he's overwhelmed and stunned by the honor.

Bergen was serving on a bomb squadron when he was shot down over Germany in 1944. He was held prisoner at a camp in Austria for 14 months.

Bergen suffered shoulder and ankle wounds in the crash, but he had no paperwork about the injuries because he was immediately taken prisoner. Such documentation is needed for the medal that honors troops injured in combat.

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MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has issued a warning about synthetic marijuana products that have recently sent multiple people to the hospital with severe bleeding.

The state has had seven confirmed hospitalizations caused by the use of the synthetic drug since March.


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MADISON - High school students from Parkland, Florida., visit Wisconsin to advocate for stricter gun control laws and to register young people to vote.

The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are making three stops in Wisconsin as part of a nationwide March for Our Lives: Road to Change tour. They plan to hold events Friday in Janesville and Madison and on Saturday in Milwaukee.

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MADISON - The second Democrat in as many days has dropped out of the race for governor.

State Representative Dana Wachs, of Eau Claire, announced Friday that he is ending his campaign and endorsing Tony Evers.

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HOUGHTON - River Valley Bank will accept donations for flood victims in Houghton and the surrounding area. 

Anyone can make a donation online or in person at a River Valley Bank. 

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RHINELANDER - More than 10,000 cars pass through one of the area's busiest intersections each day: Highways 8 and 47 on Rhinelander's west side.  But next year, all those cars might need to go around the intersection as construction for a roundabout gets started.

The Department of Transportation is considering two options for traffic flow as crews build an approximately $2 million roundabout.

Option 1: the intersection largely stays open as a "T", but Kemp Street gets closed completely.

Option 2: widened off-ramps detour traffic around the intersection to Boyce Drive or Kemp Street.

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