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.
TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk School District will need to make big budget cuts in the next year. The district will need to cut more than $500 thousand dollars. Rising transportation costs along with declining enrollments challenge many Northwood's School Districts.
“We have a lot of issues in Northern Wisconsin that many districts in the state of Wisconsin don't have,” says Cheryl Baker, Tomahawk School District Superintendent. “For instance in the Tomahawk School District there's about 425 and I'm rounding that off, square miles of terrain that has to be covered everyday two times a day to pick kids up, to bring them to school, and to take them home.”
“That cost is our cost,” says Baker.
The school district does not plan to cut any electives. Instead they are moving from an 8 to a 7 period day.
“We're moving from an 8 period day to a 7 period day purely for economic reasons,” says Baker. “In other words had we not gone to the 7 period day for next year we would have had to of cut entire classes, electives, and or start cutting down teachers full time positions.”
The school district will also need to cut its full time social worker.
WAUSAU - Most magicians wow us with their tricks, but Magician Lou Lepore does more.
He teaches his audiences how to do some of the tricks he performs. He spent the last week as magician-in-residence at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau putting on magic shows and hosting workshops.
It was part of the museum's latest exhibit on Mystery, Magic and Mayhem.
Students from local schools visited him during his six-day residency as in-house magician.
"We had schools come in, and depending on the size of the kids, if it was about 20 or under we would do a class, an actual workshop with them and teach them magic," says Lepore. "You would teach them maybe a half a dozen tricks that they can use with friends and family and things like that. If it was more than 20 we did a show."
Lepore specializes in sleight of hand using items like cards or coins. He also dabbles in cabaret.
Lepore has been doing magic for more than 40 years, but this was his first time as an in-house magician.
"They said can you do an artist-in-residency, and I said I have no idea what that is, what do I do?" says Lepore. "They said you're gong to show your art form, being magic, and you're going to teach kids classes and do demonstrations and workshops. I said oh yeah, I've done that for fairs, festivals so I can do all that for you."
Two more magicians will perform at the museum through April.
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