NEWS STORIES

Will It Pass? Rhinelander Referendum DecisionSubmitted: 02/06/2013

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RHINELANDER - No one wants to pay higher taxes.

But Rhinelander, Northland Pines, and Three Lakes school districts are asking you for more money.

So we asked them what's at stake.

Tonight, Newswatch 12's Lex Gray and Kira Lynne take a look at the School District of Rhinelander.

"When I look back to moving to this area, one of the reasons was [my husband] was very confident in the school system," says Lori Haug.

Lori and her husband Tony Haug moved to Rhinelander from Eau Claire 14 years ago.

"At the time when we moved here, I felt it was a very good school district, a good place to raise kids," Tony says.

That's proven to be true for their three children.

"I think our decision to move here was a great one," Lori says. "The depth of the curriculum is something that my girls are really enjoying. We have both of them in Advanced Placement classes. They'll be more than prepared to go to university if they choose."

But the Haugs also have a son in seventh grade.

By the time he gets to high school, AP courses, foreign languages, and other electives could be gone.

"The thought of losing that is scary to us," Lori says.

Scary, but a definite possibility.

The School District of Rhinelander is asking taxpayers for another $4 million per year through 2016.

That means each year, you'd pay $105 more than you do now per $100,000 in property value.

The odds are stacked against the district.

It's gone to referendum 24 times since 1996. Fifteen of the 24 have failed.

Lori hopes this time is different.

"It's time to bury all the distrust before and move forward for the sake of the community."

The effects of a failed referendum go beyond classroom doors.

"The students lose, future students lose, the town loses," Tony says. "When your school system is going negative, people will relocate, businesses will not come here, current businesses will question being here, and growth will go slow."

Growth is important to Tony. He's the president of ABX, a Rhinelander manufacturing company.

"Having a strong school system is important for all businesses that are currently here and all future businesses," he said.

But if this referendum fails, Rhinelander won't have a strong school system.

The board started cutting back in 2002. They've laid off teachers, trimmed down activities and sports, closed a building, and cut back on busing.

This time, the district cuts would go even deeper.

Charter schools and some sports and activities would go.

But most disturbing for the Haugs - elective classes would also go.

"My oldest daughter now is looking into colleges" Tony says. "So when you talk about the electives and courses being cut that would prevent her from getting into one of the universities of Wisconsin, that's a huge concern."

It's a concern big enough to talk about moving.

"If our kids don't have the ability to get into universities, going to Rhinelander High School, I think you have to reevaluate where you're living," Tony says.

"I think we would have to consider it," Lori says. "Would we want to? Absolutely not."

But the Haugs hope it won't come to that.

"I believe most people understand that we have to maintain the school districts and the levels," Tony says. "I believe that it will be passed and it needs to be passed and it's the right thing to do. We want to fight for our town and the school district."

"We're at the cusp of something very important here," Lori says. "I think for the sake of our community and our future, it's very important to support it and move forward in a really positive matter."

Story By: Lex Gray & Kira Lynne

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Record breaking snowfall knocks the power out Submitted: 04/17/2014

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RHINELANDER - Our record breaking snow storm left more than 6,000 people across the Northwoods without power.

WPS had to rely on 20 extra crews from Green Bay, Wausau and Menominee to restore power.

But getting to the outages was a challenge.

A representative for WPS says workers are expecting even more outages to be reported.

"Not all of the back roads are plowed yet and that's where a lot of outages are located," said Leah Van Zile, WPS Community Relations leader. "Throughout the day as the temperatures warm, we expect to receive additional calls due to the unloading of snow off of the tree branches."

Eagle River had one of the highest number of customers affected by the outages.

Representatives for WPS say this was one of the hardest winters they've had to deal with.

"We've had some really, really severe wind chills which has really made the temperatures below zero. Typically, only in emergencies do we work in those conditions," said Van Zile. "But pretty much any other time, whether it's a rain storm, a snow storm, a wind storm, our guys are out there working, getting that power back on."

The number of outages dropped below 4,000 since earlier today.

If you're still without power to call 1800-450-7240.

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Man charged with attempted homicide could get all charges dismissedSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander man will get a second chance after shooting his uncle.

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Alsteens led police on a car chase through Oneida County in 2013 before being caught near Eagle River. That was after shooting his uncle at a Mason Street home in Rhinelander.

Oneida County District Attorney Michael Schiek initially charged him with attempted homicide, battery and two other charges.

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LP conversion of sheriff's cars nears completionSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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VILAS COUNTY - As many as 20 Vilas County Sheriff's patrol cars now run on both liquid propane and gasoline.

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The department started converting the cars last November.

A company in Michigan installed 20-gallon propane tanks in the trunks of the cars.

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Cleaning up the messSubmitted: 04/17/2014

RHINELANDER - Snow blowers became the weapon of choice across northern Wisconsin as snow piled deeper and deeper.

People had ten inches or more of snow to clear from driveways and sidewalks this morning.

Some may have stayed home today.

But those who needed to get out had to move the snow.

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Northwoods house catches fireSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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TOMAHAWK - A home in Tomahawk caught fire Thursday afternoon.

The fire happened near Lake Alice on Pine Shore Lane.

Police say an elderly couple owned the home, but we don't know if they were home at the time of the fire.

We also don't know how the fire started, but we'll give you more information on the fire when it becomes available.

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Vandals, thieves sack old Sacred Heart Hospital building in TomahawkSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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TOMAHAWK - The old Sacred Heart Hospital building in Tomahawk will be knocked down soon.

Milestone Senior Living will build a new home for seniors on the site.

The old building has been vacant since 2003.

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Ernie Winker did plenty of carpentry work inside the hospital.

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(Click the video to watch)

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