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NEWS STORIES

Joint Finance Committee approves mining legislation, Democrats expect court dates in the futureSubmitted: 02/25/2013
Story By Lane Kimble


MADISON - Lawmakers took another step toward making it easier to mine in Wisconsin.

The state's Joint Finance Committee passed the new Republican mining bill on a 12 to 4 vote Monday afternoon. The bill now moves to both the full state Senate and Assembly.

The GOP's bill is mainly designed to make it easier for a mining company to open a large mine. It would be on the border of Ashland and Iron Counties.

Democrats think the bill's language doesn't do enough to protect the environment.

But Ashland Representative Janet Bewley thinks the progress can be slowed in the courts.

"There are so many things in the bill that are ambiguous that will end up in court," Rep. Janet Bewley said. "I don't want to say I'm grateful to (Republicans) for writing such a sloppy bill, but the bill is written in such a form that there are many opportunities for it to end up in court."

Republicans don't think they're rushing anything. Hazelhurst Senator Tom Tiffany points to numerous changes from the first bill to this version.

He hopes it doesn't end up in the courts.

"We passed 11 amendments out of our Senate committee about two weeks ago," Sen. Tiffany said. "We've really, thoroughly vetted this bill. Will there be lawsuits, as Representative Bewley hopes? Perhaps, because some people will sue over anything in modern society. But this is really a good bill that protects the environment, while giving certainty to an applicant."

The mining bill will likely pass because Republicans control both the Senate and Assembly. Senator Tiffany thinks the Senate will take up the bill Wednesday.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Local kids help protect batsSubmitted: 04/27/2015

RHINELANDER - Seventh graders in Rhinelander will help protect bats this summer. That's thanks to help from the U.S. Forest Service.

Kids in Rhinelander Monday learned about endangered bats across Wisconsin on Monday. A bat expert with Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest showed the importance of keeping bats healthy. The students helped local scientists by building new homes for the bats.

"Ms. Swaney showed us a presentation about the bats with a speaker and now we're building them," said 7th grader Jackie Wells.

"They have predators and it will kind of keep them safe in their little bat homes," said 7th Grader Connor Lund.

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MILWAUKEE - Police have arrested four protesters who sat in the middle of a downtown Milwaukee intersection during a demonstration calling for more diversity at Marquette University.

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RHINELANDER - Fields of an invasive plant called phragmites stand all along Wisconsin's Lake Michigan shore. Invasive species workers hope most of the plants stay away from the Northwoods.

Workers chopped down a stand of phragmites on Monday. It stood on Highway 8 just west of Rhinelander. It had been chemically treated in the fall. Hopefully, that will help control the spread of the species.

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ANTIGO - Dealing with allergic reactions to bee stings can be one of the biggest health threats to students.

"If we were seeing a reaction, for example a tingling of the mouth, swelling of the throat, a visual that a student might give us if they are unable to breath at that time, we would immediately administer an EpiPen," Director of Pupil Services Unified School District of Antigo Karen Baker.

Teachers watch carefully for possible allergic reactions, especially at recess and on field trips.

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MERRILL - The Community Warming Center in Merrill finished up its first winter season a few weeks ago. The center provides a place to stay for people in need from November through April.

The guest's ages ranged from 22 to 45 years old. The center is run through the Merrill United Way. The Warming Center's director said its first year went much better than expected.

"It's kind of like building the field of dreams and not knowing if anyone will come to play, or to stay in our case," said Merrill United Way Executive Director Dee Olsen. "But what ended up happening was the community was responsive and we ended up with 11 guests throughout the season with 90 user nights."

The center is already preparing for the next season. They have new blankets and pillows ready for their next year.

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RHINELANDER - Last year, a valve malfunction in eastern Wisconsin sent natural gas leaking into the air. A similar situation in the Northwoods could cut off gas supply to a whole city and be dangerous to people in the nearby area.

Wisconsin Public Service wants to be ready in case something like that happens. A natural gas station near the intersection of Highways 8 and 47 provides natural gas to most of Rhinelander. Workers rushed there on Monday, simulating their response to a leak.

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EAGLE RIVER - Many people enjoy freshly roasted coffee. But, the process to roast those coffee beans can be a science.

"We start with green coffee. It comes in 130 to 155 pound sacks of coffee," said owner of Eagle River Roasters Dan Beihoff.

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