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What the Wausau Paper Brainerd Mill Closure Means for Wis. MillsSubmitted: 02/22/2013
What the Wausau Paper Brainerd Mill Closure Means for Wis. Mills
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

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.

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RHINELANDER - In June, the Rhinelander City Council approved a fenced-in dog park at Shepard Park. It's something Tina Werres has been working towards for the last 10 years.

On Saturday, about 30 volunteers gathered at Shepard Park to clean up the south end of the park.

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The Campanile Summer Children's Theatre Workshop has been running in Minocqua for 10 years now.

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TOWN OF CLOVERLAND - Ed Renk hopes to sell his home on a quiet road near Eagle River soon.  But Renk worries his home won't sell as soon as buyers learn who'll be living a few doors down.

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That "deal" is more of an order. Violent sex offender Steven Burgess, 41, will be placed on Chickaree Lake Road in Cloverland August 1.  It's the second time Burgess will be placed in the exact same home in four years.

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MINOCQUA - The tennis courts at Lakeland Union High School usually get filled with students. 

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A group of senior citizens dressed in all white play with wooden tennis rackets to mimic a Wimbledon, tennis game. 

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RHINELANDER - This weekend the Hodag BMX track on the west side of Rhinelander hosts the Badger State Games.

More than 100 competitors of all ages and skill levels will compete for the fastest times on the recently updated track.

Competitors race bikes on a quarter mile track with several turns, jumps, embankments and moguls.
Track Operator, Rob Deede says they have competitors from age 5 to their mid-fifties.

"So it's a sport for kids of all ages, we also have it broken down based off of skill level, so from the new beginners, novices all the way through the experts who have achieved many wins in their career." Said Deede.

He says the oldest competitor he's seen was in his mid-eighties.

The track was revamped about a year ago to keep up with the changing style of tracks around the country and the world and to accommodate larger events.

He hopes to bring something positive to the community through the BMX club.

Races will take place this evening and the Championship Qualifying races tomorrow afternoon.

Admission is free. 

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