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

Local Effects of Sequestration Unclear
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

RHINELANDER - Nicolet College's Motorcycle Basic Rider Course teaches folks to safely hit the road on their bike.

The class is in full swing for the season.

Nicolet College Rider Coach Mike Murray says even experienced riders can use a "safety brush-up" this time of year.

Riders should always wear their helmet, long pants and shirts, gloves, and boots.

It's also important to keep your eyes moving for critters that come out of the woods,especially deer.

"If you know you're going to hit it: let off your brakes, hit it with your handle bars straight ahead looking straight ahead so that your bike stays straight up," says rider coach Mike Murray.

The course covers the basics about motorcycles and riding techniques.

It's meant to build confidence when you ride, so that you're prepared for emergencies on the road.

"I've been a rider for a long time. When I completed the class, I had to look back and say man there is a lot of stuff I learned here and a lot of things I was doing the wrong way," says program coordinator Mark England.

You have until October to sign up for the Basic Rider Course at Nicolet.

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MADISON - Wisconsin's prisons for young offenders could see some changes in the way they punish inmates.

A lawsuit is challenging punishment methods at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake prisons in Lincoln County.



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MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is urging Republican senators to reject a Medicaid expansion he turned down but that most states accepted under the health care law passed by former President Barack Obama.

Walker said in a statement Wednesday that there are "no excuses" for Republicans in Congress not to repeal the law and not allow the Medicaid expansion to grow.

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WASHINGTON D.C. - Senate Republicans plan to vote next week on their version of the health care bill next week.

The bill would replace the Affordable Care Act. Many Democrats, including Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), oppose not only the bill but also the way it's been drafted.

Baldwin was a U.S. Representative in 2010 when Obamacare was passed. 

She said both the House and the Senate held dozens of open hearings and Democrats and Republicans were able to make amendments.

"This house passed measure passed the house with no hearings at all despite its far ranging impact on people's lives," said Baldwin.

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ANTIGO - Shaughn Novy figured the perfect place to make a big announcement would be, literally, on her high horse.  On a brown horse, Wenesday Novy announced a significant grant to help promote a rodeo dedicated to Antigo's rich equestrian history.

Novy and her family recently opened the non-profit Black Hawk Hill Horse Park in Antigo.  It focuses on teambuilding and leadership, using horses to teach those skills.

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MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee jury has acquitted a former police officer of first-degree reckless homicide in the shooting of a black man last year that ignited riots in the city.

Jurors on Wednesday found that Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, was justified when he shot 23-year-old Sylville Smith after a brief foot chase following a traffic stop Aug. 23. Smith had a gun when he ran, but prosecutors said Smith had thrown the weapon over a fence and was defenseless when Heaggan-Brown fired the shot that killed him.

Heaggan-Brown's attorneys argued the officer had to act quickly to defend himself. Bodycam footage showed 1.69 seconds passed between a shot that hit Smith in the arm - as he appeared to be tossing his gun - and the one that hit his chest.

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NORTHWOODS - Some people turn to the internet, social media and newspapers to find a job. 

 However, the job hunt can still bring challenges. 

Some employers say it's not easy on their end either.

It is Steven Pletta's first year owning Hoggie Doggies in Woodruff. 

"I haven't had any luck with any conventional advertising, Craigslist, newspapers or the Wisconsin Job Service. None have really produced any quality applicants," said Pletta.

Pletta wants a bigger work team.

 He's not the only local employer that's been looking. Ferron Fisher faces the same problem at Steigerwaldt Tree Farm in Tomahawk.

"We usually bring on eight to 12 [people] in the summer," said Pletta. 

However, they are four people short.

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