Will It Pass? - Looking at school district referendums: Northland PinesSubmitted: 02/07/2013
Story By Lex Gray & Kira Lynne

Will It Pass? - Looking at school district referendums: Northland Pines
EAGLE RIVER - When you step into a Northland Pines school, you'll see laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks.

"I would say within five years, we may not even see a textbook in the the classroom anymore," Superintendent Mike Richie said. "It's going to be chromebooks, it's going to be ipads, and those kinds of things."

Even the schools themselves look shiny and new.

So you might ask yourself: why is this district asking taxpayers for more money?

Superintendent Mike Richie says there are a few answers to that question.

One goes all the way back to the early 90s, when the state funding formula started to change.

"That first base year to figure out what the cap would be for each district, it was actually based off the prior year. So any district in the state that was very frugal or did a great job with their tax levy was actually punished for future years," Richie said.

And Pines is frugal. The district stretched their last three year referendum to four years.

And this time, they're asking for $2.7 million per year instead of $2.9 million.

But there are still budget issues they can't get around.

Transportation costs are a huge issue here. While other districts are more compact, Northland Pines covers a large area, and that's why they spend $1.3 million per year just getting kids to and from school.

Any sympathy from the state? Not here.

"That is the problem I have with the funding formula," Richie said. "They don't take into account the makeup of the district and the difference that one district may have over another district."

And that's why Northland Pines is asking YOU to see the difference…and make sure they can stay ahead of the curve.

Technology director Scott Foster says it's not just about having the latest tech toys. Next year, the district may add Chinese language classes.

"We really emphasize providing a 21st century education for our students and connecting them to the global society. And with technology, we're allowed to do that," Foster said.

But even closer to home, technology matters.

"If a community member reflects on their job now even compared to five years ago... there isn't a job out there that hasn't been impacted by technology in any way," Foster said.

And in the long run, technology should save time. And time saves money.

It always comes across as expensive. But really, if you're enacting technology properly, you should be doing it do gain efficiencies in our instruction or the way we do our jobs here as educators.

Pines hosted informational meetings in January and posted slideshows, videos and flyers online. It's a lot of information. But what Richie really wants you to remember?

"This referendum is about what makes this school district a quality school district," Richie said.

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TOMAHAWK - Two best friends turned into business partners about a year ago.

Bill Eastwood and Blake McMahon own Outboards Bar and Grill in Tomahawk.

The duo's combined restaurant and business experience helped them hit the ground running.

Fish quality comes first at Outboards.

"Friday night is the night that pretty much everyone goes out to eat. So if you don't have a good fish fry, people around here start talking!" say Eastwood.

For people with food intolerance, eating a fish fry platter can be nearly impossible.

So, Outboards offers alternatives like gluten-free beer-battered fish.

"We kind of put a twist on things and do it our own way. You can get fries, but you can get quinoa or a fresh vegetable," says McMahon.

When summertime comes, Outboards' patio overlooks the ski show and music on the river.

Outboards serves fish starting at 11 a.m.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Every second counts when it comes to saving a life. But in rural parts of Wisconsin, it can take paramedics up to 30 minutes to respond to an emergency.

A new bill in Wisconsin would require dispatchers to know how to explain verbally CPR over the phone.

When Sherri Congleton answers a 911, call she is often thrown into a life or death situation.

"You kind of form a bond with the person on the other side of the phone when you answer a call like that," said Congleton.

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RHINELANDER - Golfers can't wait to get back on the course after our long, tiring winter.  We'll need to melt a lot more snow to make that happen, but on a Rhinelander-area lake this weekend, ice will be needed for golfing.

Fisher's Resort on Lake George will host the 13th-annual Ice Golf tournament Saturday.  Golfers shoot real golf balls on nine holes on the frozen lake.  The four-person scramble format costs $40 per team.

The event is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the Hodag Sno-Trails snowmobile club.

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EAGLE RIVER - Once a week you probably leave a recycling bin at the end of your driveway. But what actually happens to that paper, cardboard, and bottles after a truck picks it up? 

Eagle Waste and Recycling in Eagle River gets recyclables from all over the northern half of Wisconsin and even the U.P. 

"As far north as Marquette, Michigan, as far east as Menominee, Michigan, from Chippewa Falls Wisconsin to the west and Wausau to the south," said Eagle Waste and Recycling President Alan Albee.

The facility opened in 2012 and has been growing ever since. 

Albee showed us how recyclables are sorted and packed to be shipped off and made into new products.
Recyclables are unloaded from a truck.

Then they are loaded into basin called a metering drum and then unloaded onto a conveyor belt. 

Workers start pre-sorting.

"Our pre-sort allows us to clean the material up prior to going into our main sorting building," said Albee. 

Then the belt runs into another building where it is sorted further. 

"And then the first thing that we pull out is glass," said Albee. 

Big cardboard items are sorted out through a filter. Then paper is separated from plastic and metals. 

"Metal is sorted by use of a magnet; aluminum is sorted automatically by the use of an eddy current," said Albee. 

Workers separate the different kinds of plastic, then items drop into a baler and are made into bricks. 

"The finished products are sent all over the country depending on what the material is. Paper and cardboard are shipped locally to paper mills in Wisconsin Rapids or over by Green Bay," said Albee. 

It's the only facility of its kind in the Northwoods, and one of the only ones in Wisconsin. 

Right now Eagle Waste and Recycling has two balers. They will be getting a third one this summer to pack cardboard.

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MADISON - The Wisconsin State Patrol says it saw more drugged drivers on the roads and had a significant increase in drug arrests from 2016 to 2017.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the State Patrol saw a 20 percent increase in drug arrests during that time period, with fewer than 2,900 arrests in 2016 to more than 3,400 last year. A drug arrest involves the possession of illegal narcotics or paraphernalia.

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RHINELANDER - On Thursday night, two of three candidates made the case for why they should become Rhinelander's next mayor. A panel of media members, including Newswatch 12's own Ben Meyer, questioned the candidates for an hour, live on WXPR.

The two candidates at the forum argued between the power of a fresh perspective and a wealth of experience. 

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OCONOMOWOC - Authorities say more than 70 people were treated at local hospitals after an air quality issue forced the evacuation of Oconomowoc High School and the adjacent Oconomowoc Arts Center.

Western Lakes Fire District Chief Brad Bowen says low carbon monoxide readings were detected on some of the first patients treated, but officials could not immediately find a cause or source.

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