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What the Wausau Paper Brainerd Mill Closure Means for Wis. MillsSubmitted: 02/22/2013
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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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/26/2016

- Tonight on Friday Night Blitz we will bring you scores from high school football games all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following games:

River Falls vs. Merrill

Rhinelander vs. Wittenberg-Birnamwood

Oconto vs. Antigo

Phillips vs. Tomahawk

That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MADISON - A new study suggests that Wisconsin's villages have struggled more with economic recovery than larger cities since the big recession of 2008-09.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the study also found the controversial Act 10 that was passed to limit collective bargaining by public workers saved local governments about $100 million, or 1.5 percent of total spending, in 2012.

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EAGLE RIVER - You might think a business incubator focuses on creating jobs.  But the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation lives by the mindset of creating opportunities, knowing when you do that the jobs tend to follow.

VCEDC started its first business incubator in Eagle River in 2012.  That building filled up, so they moved into two across Highway 70, including the Eye on Entrepreneurs building in 2015.  Project Manager Barry McLeane says creativity now pours out of all six of their current sites, from Phelps to Manitowish Waters.

"I've listened to some pretty bizarre ideas over the last three or four years and it's OK," McLeane said.  "It's OK, because bizarre ideas settle down into something really substantial."

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VILAS COUNTY - Police still need to arrest the person who killed a Phelps woman back in May.

Hikers found the body of 47-year-old Luann Beckman on a trail near Noseeum Lake.

Investigators then ruled it a homicide and sent all the evidence to the state crime lab in Madison.

The Vilas County Sheriff told Newswatch 12 they've interviewed dozens of people and have a list of suspects, but they need DNA evidence for an arrest.

"We're waiting for the science to point us in the right direction," said Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath. "It would be wonderful to develop a DNA profile to lead us to somebody. Or be able to get a full profile to be able to compare to people in the area that we've gotten leads on."

Sheriff Fath told Newswatch investigators had to submit some evidence to the FBI crime lab. He said the state crime lab found a partial DNA profile and needs to send it to a place with more advanced technology.

"I mean we still get calls from the community, but it's not substantive," Fath said. "You know it's, I heard this, I heard that, I think this, I think you might want to talk to this guy, which we do. But we will continue to follow up on those leads."

He said investigators do think the suspect is local and someone Beckman knew.

If you have any information, you can call the anonymous tip line, 1-800-78-CRIME. 

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SAYNER - Bill Carper lost count of the number of rounds he's played at Plum Lake Golf Club in Sayner long ago.

"It's well over a thousand," he said.

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CRANDON - This upcoming school year, Crandon students will learn more about forgiveness and kindness as part of a new initiative.

The Crandon School District called on 2016 Wisconsin Elementary Principal of the Year Melissa Herek to help introduce some of these new practices earlier this week.

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RHINELANDER - Rhinelander High School's class of 2020 will come in strong with a class of nearly 175 students.

The student government held a new student orientation to ease some of the first day jitters. 

Most of the incoming class includes students from James Williams Middle School and Nativity. 

The orientation was held for freshman as well as transfer students.

Some of the new students did find some aspects of high school surprising. 

"It's a bigger school than I thought, way bigger than I thought," said incoming freshman Luke Fritz.
The students found the tour extremely helpful.

 Students were able to visit their classes, meet their teachers and learn about new clubs and organizations. 

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