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NEWS STORIES

Local Effects of Sequestration UnclearSubmitted: 02/25/2013
Story By Lex Gray


RHINELANDER - First, we went off the fiscal cliff. Then, Washington lawmakers pulled us back up -- but not for long.

Now, the country faces what politicians are calling "the sequester."

If Congress can't reach a deal by Friday, $85 billion will be cut from public programs.

In Wisconsin, that includes schools, the military, and programs for the environment, seniors, public health, child care, and more.

That comes from a 50-page report from the White House on how Wisconsin would be affected.

The report didn't give an exact or estimated dollar amount, and no one around the Northwoods seems to know exactly how they'd be affected, either.

That's true for Dianne Jacobson, director of the Oneida County Department on Aging.

The federal government funds twenty percent of her department.

"That's a significant amount but as I said, we don't want anyone that we serve to worry, 'Oh they're going to cut that program or they're going to reduce that.'" Jacobson said. "We always will have to look based on the funding that we get, but at this point, we are not anticipating a cut of our services."

Jacobson encourages seniors to talk to their local representatives.

Congressman Sean Duffy spoke to us on the phone from Washington, D.C.

He said he wants to prevent cuts to essential services, but the compromise should be about cutting spending, not raising taxes, as the President has proposed.

"We think we have to get our spending under control. And if we don't, you can't tax your way out of this problem," Duffy said. "I'm trying to look for ways, per the prior agreement with the President, to get us to a place where we can actually live within our means. And that means to start cutting the fat and waste within the federal budget."

The Federal Aviation Administration would be included in the cuts, but the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport is so small, it likely wouldn't be affected.

But the Chippewa Valley Airport would close.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

EAGLE RIVER - A fire in Eagle River severely damaged a garage on McKinley Boulevard early Sunday morning.

The Eagle River Fire Department said the fire started in the garage just after midnight Sunday morning.

15 firemen were on the scene for about two hours. Three children and two adults were in the house when the fire started.

The fire department says someone going by the house went in to wake them up and called 911. The fire went partially into the attic and house.

The garage and everything in it were completely destroyed. No one was hurt from the fire. 

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MADISON - A Wisconsin prison guard has served a one-day suspension for a joke on Facebook about President Barack Obama and lynching.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1H0kn2U ) that Collin Visser posted in December a photo of Christmas tree ornaments depicting Obama and the text: "Look guys. Obama Christmas ornaments. Suddenly it's legal to hang a black man from a tree again!"

Visser has worked at the Dodge County Correctional Institution in Waupun since April 2014. The newspaper obtained documents revealing his punishment months after requesting them under the state's open records law.

Warden Marc Clements told Visser in January he'd be suspended for one day and required to attend diversity training for what the warden called a "serious act of misconduct."

Visser did not immediately return a call seeking comment Sunday.

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WAUSAU - A crash in Wausau left one man injured after a van collided with his motorcycle Friday night.

The Wausau Police Department got a call about a southbound crash around 9:00 p.m. on Grand Avenue near Ruder Street.

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All the money raised during the barbecue will help the department pay for equipment upgrades and training.

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Walker announced the decision in a joint statement Saturday with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and the co-chairs of the joint budget committee.

The statement says the records proposal "will be removed from the budget in its entirety." They say the plan "was never intended to inhibit transparent government in any way."

The restrictions, which Republicans slipped into the proposed budget late Thursday, would exempt nearly everything created by government officials from Wisconsin's open records law.

The statement says the Legislature will form a committee to study the issue and allow for public discussion.

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