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NEWS STORIES

Helium Shortage Affects Local Floral BusinessSubmitted: 02/12/2013
Story By Ryan Abney

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RHINELANDER - Helium-filled balloons will cost a little more this Valentine's Day.
There's a helium shortage. And some florists are worried about their store's biggest shopping day of the year.

Forth Floral Owner Ruth Hempel has seen helium prices rise over the past year. But her store is doing all they can to keep prices low.

"We've tried to do a better job on finding better deals on the actual balloons themselves to offset the increase. At this time of the year though, because it's Valentine's Day, the little bit extra they might have to pay usually isn't a big deal. For most, especially guys, if they want that balloon they're going to buy it."

Some parts of the country are out completely. Hempel said her business could deal without, but having balloons is an added perk.

"It's just that added exclamation point on the bouquet so as long as we can continue to do it we're going to hope we can. But if it gets to that point we're just going to have to find some other thing that gives that little punch."

Helium is also used for welding, medical devices, and some computer parts.


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 IN OTHER NEWS
In-person absentee voting underwaySubmitted: 10/23/2014

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STATEWIDE - You can vote in the upcoming election before November 4th. In-person absentee voting started Monday.

Northwoods clerks say the process has been going smoothly.

Voters don't need a photo ID for this election because the US Supreme Court blocked a law requiring one for this election. But some people have still been confused about whether they need a photo ID.

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State Representative will plead no contest, could face jail timeSubmitted: 10/23/2014

WISCONSIN - Wisconsin state representative Bill Kramer could spend nine months in jail.

Kramer faced trial next week for two felonies of second-degree sexual assault. The case won't go to trial, though. Kramer has agreed to a plea deal.

He'll plead no contest to two misdemeanors. Those were for fourth-degree sexual assault.

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Expera gets WEDC loan for headquarters improvementsSubmitted: 10/23/2014

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KAUKAUNA - Expera Specialty Solutions will use a $1 million loan to upgrade its headquarters in Kaukauna.

The company runs four mills in Wisconsin, including the ones in Rhinelander and Mosinee.

Expera will get the loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). That is the quasi-private state job creation agency.

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Partial solar eclipseSubmitted: 10/23/2014

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NORTHWOODS - Most of Northern Wisconsin was too cloudy to make out the partial solar eclipse Thursday evening. A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the earth. The last partial solar eclipse that could be seen in Northern Wisconsin was more than 10 years ago. Calculations for when and where solar eclipses occur are quite precise, according to local astronomer and planetarium owner Frank Kovac.

"The solar system is like a clock," explained Kovac. "We can predict eclipses many years out and it is very geometric, it's very mathematical."

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International group considers Wisconsin one of four most improved states in energy efficiency Submitted: 10/23/2014

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WISCONSIN - An international energy efficiency group ranked Wisconsin in the top four most improved states in the U.S. when it comes to energy efficiency.

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is an international non-profit. The group pushes for better energy efficiency around the world.

They ranked Wisconsin 23rd in the U.S. last year, but Wisconsin made their most improved list for 2014.

"A shift in efficiency administrators had caused a temporary drop in saving," ACEEE State Policy Research Analyst Annie Gilleo said. "We are seeing that Wisconsin is once again realizing consistent levels of electricity and natural gas savings."

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Grant to help improve Vilas trails appSubmitted: 10/23/2014

VILAS COUNTY - Tourism leaders hope updates to a smartphone app will bring in an extra $350,000 to Vilas County.

The app will now offer GPS services to the county's non-motorized trail app.

Vilas County Tourism & Publicity will pay for it with a nearly $40,000 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant from the state department of tourism.

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Federal grant will help NTC open mobile lab, expand educational opportunitiesSubmitted: 10/23/2014

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WAUSAU - Northcentral Technical College will get a huge boost to one of its healthcare programs.

The geriatric healthcare program will get $668,328 from the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant will help create new advanced technical certificates. It will also go towards expanding educational programs.

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