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.
RHINELANDER - There was no severe weather Thursday, but sirens across the Northwoods were blaring at about 1:45 pm on Thursday.
That's because the National Weather Service held a statewide tornado drill.
It was part of their severe weather awareness week, and Oneida County took part in the drill.
"The sirens are only set off for warnings, in the city of Rhinelander, it's only going to be a Severe Thunderstorm Warning that is affecting the city area," said Oneida County Emergency Management Director Ken Kortenhof. "It's also going to be set off for a Tornado Warning affecting the area."
MADISON - The start of a new short-term loan program that wasn't slated to begin until July has been moved up in an effort to help businesses hurt by recent cutbacks at Oshkosh Corp.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state's chief jobs agency, voted this week to start the pilot program earlier. It will provide loans or loan guarantees of up to $250,000 to companies for projects or expenses that may not be eligible for traditional financing.
The board says it was starting the program earlier in light of news that Oshkosh was cutting 760 jobs from its defense division because of budget cuts being made by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The loan program this year will only target businesses in Oshkosh Corp.'s supply chain
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Drug addicts can look nearly everywhere to get their fix, and sometimes they can get that by raiding their family's medicine cabinet.
That's why Lac du Flambeau police gave a drug presentation at an event for the elderly Thursday.
Police leaders wanted to show seniors what could happen if they didn't keep track of their medications.
"A lot of times the elderly and older population can be victims from this. As the younger children, grandchildren, things like that are you know coming in and taking their grandparents prescription drugs," says Sarah Keuer, a nurse at Peter Christensen Health Center.
Dane County judge to hear Planned Parenthood lawsuit
MADISON - A Dane County judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging a 2012 law that sets out conditions for abortions.
The law requires a doctor to determine whether the woman's consent is voluntary and inform the woman of domestic abuse services if he or she suspects the woman is being coerced. The law also requires doctors to perform a physical exam before they can prescribe abortion-inducting drugs and be in the room when the drugs are given to the woman.
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in February 2013 arguing the law is unconstitutionally vague. The organization argues its unclear how doctors should determine voluntary consent and whether doctors need to be present when drugs are dispensed or administered.
Judge Richard Niess is set to hear arguments Thursday morning.
UPDATE: Police believe they made right choice in Nerf gun tickets
WAUSAU - UPDATE: 5:52pm 4/24/2014
Police believe they made the right choice handling a report of gunmen near a high school in Wausau Tuesday night.
They found out the gunmen were actually six kids playing a game with toy Nerf guns.
Police eventually ended up giving the high school seniors disorderly conduct tickets.
Some people thought the tickets were excessive, but in a press release in released Thursday by the Wausau Police Department said they "believed there was a serious, potentially life threatening situation".
Someone called the Wausau police around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.
The person said there were people pointing guns at other people in a car.
Police say they handled the situation different than a traffic stop because of the seriousness of the call.
After police got all the seniors out of the car, they saw the nerf guns.
The teens got the disorderly conduct citations because police say they caused a disruption in the neighborhood.
Leaders at Wausau West High School said in a statement that there's "potential in a game like this for negative consequences."
Some of the students have also been placed on athletic probation.
Six kids got tickets after a battle using toy Nerf guns in Wausau.
Police issued disorderly conduct citations to the high school seniors.
Some residents of Wausau called police when they saw the young people pointing a gun at a car Tuesday night.
But, it was only a toy Nerf gun that shoots foam bullets.
Wausau West High School officials have also placed some students on athletic probation.
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