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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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MEDFORD - During April every year, one town bands together for Autism Awareness month.

Medford schools, business, and support groups all pitch in to show their support all-month long.

The Third Annual Autism Awareness walk took place Monday. Dozens of people gathered at the Taylor County Courthouse to participate. 

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - The case of a woman found hanged in her car will go down as an "undetermined death."

Michelle Rosinski was found in a car outside a Lac du Flambeau home on Longs Point Lane last September.  Emergency responders tried CPR on Rosinski, but they couldn't revive her.  The 45-year-old woman had a choker-style dog collar wrapped around her neck.  

The Vilas County Sheriff's Office initially investigated her death as suspicious.  But Monday, Lt. Carl Gauger told Newswatch 12 it appears Rosinski probably committed suicide.

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THREE LAKES - Three Lakes taxpayers will chip in $900,000 dollars to the remodeling and expansion of the Demmer Library.

After years of meetings and votes, that plan became official last week at the town's annual meeting.

The money will accompany $1 million in money from the library's foundation and $100,000 from the Three Lakes Historical Society.

"The library is excited to be able to develop plans for a library that's going to continue to serve the community for many years in the future," said library director Erica Brewster.

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MERRILL - County lands exist for the public to enjoy.

But when people mistreat the land it can cost thousands of dollars to fix.

After a group of trucks damaged county land in Tomahawk over the weekend, Lincoln County wants to send a warning to other drivers.

Lieutenant Tim Fischer from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office says places with county forest and logging roads tend to be easy targets for people who want to tear through the woods on their vehicles.

"[It causes] damage to the property that isn't easily repaired. 

[It] prohibits county workers from accessing areas in the forest that they have to get to," said Fischer. 

People find mud holes and drive their cars through them.

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RHINELANDER - You can get almost anywhere around Pine Lake on an ATV or UTV.  But there are two key Oneida County highways that don't currently allow those vehicles.  Now, a Rhinelander-area ATV club is pushing the county to change that.

The Pine Lake ATV/UTV Club hopes the county will allow access on highways W and C.  The club formed about a year ago and got town approval to open access to all Pine Lake roads except for North and West Birchwood drives.

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MOLE LAKE - Dozens of members of the Sokoagon Chippewa community came together Monday morning to participate in Earth Day festivities.

Armed with large garbage bags, metal grabbers and plastic gloves, members picked up garbage and debris along a ten mile stretch of the reservation.

One volunteer worked the majority of the day in a blackberry bush, grabbing anything that didn't fit with the natural scenery.

"I would rather see green grass and green trees than tin cans, aluminum cans and plastic," said the volunteer.

57 volunteers came out to help.
Sokoagen Chippewa Environmental Director Tina Van Zile wanted to celebrate Earth Day on a week day because she believed more people would participate.

"Litter bothers me really bad," said Van Zile.

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WOODRUFF - Sixty-three Wildfires burned all across the state in the last week.

The DNR suspended burning permits in 44 counties Monday, including all counties in the Northwoods.

The fire danger level ranged from "High" to "Very High" in most counties.

DNR fire crews have been on stand-by all day Monday.

"On days like today we are fully staffed and on high alert. All our stations are pre-positioning equipment. We're taking equipment from one part of the state and moving it to more critical areas. We are definitely on high alert," said Wildfire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele.

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