RHINELANDER - We found out yesterday a Wausau Paper mill in Brainerd, Minnesota will close. That's bringing the impending sale of the Rhinelander plant back to the forefront of many minds here in the Northwoods.
Many people aren't sure whether to be relieved or worried, so we spoke with a representative from the company today.
Wausau Paper expects the Brainerd mill to close by April. The company will try to sell the mill. But it will close first, and the town will lose about 130 jobs.
Director of Investor Relations Perry Grueber says the factors that led to the decision to close that mill are specific to Brainerd. He says there are specific differences between that mill, and the two Wisconsin mills up for sale.
"Both the Rhinelander and Mosinee mills are substantially larger operations with substantially larger workforces. They have far more diversified product offerings and have been very well established in the technical specialty market for many years. They are performing significantly better at the present time than Brainerd was," says Perry Grueber.
Brainerd's customers will still need to get their orders from somewhere. Grueber expects production for those products to move to Rhinelander or Mosinee. That should make those mills more appealing to buyers.
Rhinelander Mayor Dick Johns hasn't heard of any serious interest yet.
But he and a group of other community leaders wrote a letter in a show of support for the city, and one of its biggest employers. They also asked Wausau Paper to keep the lines of communication open so the city and its people aren't kept in the dark.
"We just have to be patient and see where it goes. And I know it's hard for a lot of people in the community. There are families out there that want to know, 'Can I buy this? Can I do this? Can I do that?' But I'll tell you, with a positive attitude I think we can all come through it very well," says Mayor Johns.
He told us when news of the sale first broke, the City of Rhinelander would do whatever it could to help find a buyer, and keep the mill open.
MINOCQUA - A major 'safety net' resource used by nearly 800,000 people in Wisconsin could get cut in half. The Trump Administration wants to radically change SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formally known as food stamps. " It's a fundamental lifeline," said St. Germain Sentury Foods owner David Weber. Last Monday Weber found out a lifeline for some of his customers was at risk.
" In its current form it's a very vital necessity for the families," said Weber. Weber's store has supported the current debit card style SNAP or food stamp program since it started in the 60s. However, the Trump administration wants to radically change SNAP to a food box delivery styled program in its 2019 budget. " The boxes people would receive, would contain mostly shelve stable food it doesn't [provide] fresh vegetables," said Weber. With the change low- income Americans receiving at least $90 a month would get half their benefits in the form of a "USDA Foods package."
" There may be a need for change for the SNAP program, but I'm not sure the proposed changes are the way to go," said Weber. The box would include shelf stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, and beans, but no fruits or vegetables. " [It's a] disservice to the community and the people who receive that benefit," said Weber. Weber said right now the current SNAP program allows people to get the food their families need when they need it. Instead of the nearly 800,000 SNAP users in Wisconsin needing to wait for a pre-arranged box delivery. " If there is going to be changes they need to be realistic changes that won't hurt people," said Weber.
LAKE TOMAHAWK - A 32-year-old woman had to be airlifted to a hospital after a snowmobile crash.
Oneida County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Tyler Young said emergency crews responded to the accident around 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning. It happened in an area off Highway 47 near Fawn Lake Rd in McNaughton.
STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point Police are investigating an armed robbery.
Around 6 a.m. Sunday morning, police and Portage County Sheriff Deputies responded to a report of an armed robbery at the R Store in the 5400 block of HWY 10 E in Stevens Point. Police say during the initial investigation, they determined an armed suspect displayed a weapon and took money from the store.
EAGLE RIVER - A Snow Show in Eagle River reminded visitors of all that snowmobiling clubs do for Wisconsin. About 300 people stopped by the Eagle River Derby Track Sunday for the event. The Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs invited 15 vendors to help educate people about the economics and basics of snowmobiling.
"We just want everybody to be aware of all the work that goes into maintaining and upkeep of the snowmobile trails," said Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs President Dave Newman. It was the 5th annual Snow Show.
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