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Hodag advances to Round 2 of USA Today mascot challengeSubmitted: 03/05/2013
Story By WJFW News Team


RHINELANDER - Pat yourself on the back if you voted for the green and white. You helped get the Rhinelander Hodag one step closer to being the best mascot in the nation.

The votes are in and the Hodag made it through round one.

The mythical beast ran against four other Wisconsin mascots in the USA Today contest. It won with more than 80,000 votes.

But round two won't be easy. Regionals feature an Illinois winner that got more than 675,000 votes. The Hodag also faces the Minnesota and Indiana winners.

Voting starts Wednesday at 10 a.m. We have a link to where you can vote below.

The national winner will receive $2,000 for its athletic department. Second place will be awarded $1,000, third $500, fourth $250 and fifth $100.

Related Weblinks:
Vote Here starting Wednesday at 10 a.m.

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Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





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MADISON - Fire safety rules might prevent the use of real Christmas trees in some spots.

A bill now approved by the Assembly would ensure live trees are still allowed in churches and the state Capitol rotunda.

National Fire Protection Association guidelines call for banning live Christmas trees in places where 50 people or more gather.

The guidelines also allow limited quantities of combustible vegetation....if local fire officials decide adequate safeguards are in place.

Under the bill, the state and local governments would not be allowed to prevent placement of Christmas trees in the Capitol rotunda or in a church.

Trees in the rotunda and churches would be presumed to be safe during fire inspections.

The Assembly approved the bill Tuesday evening.

Now it goes to the state Senate.

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MADISON - Big changes for Wisconsin's managed forest program cleared the state Senate.

The Program gives participants property tax breaks if they keep their land open to the public....and follow timber management plans.

Land owners can close their property, but get a smaller tax break and must pay a fee.

The bill would cap closed land at 320 acres.

Fees would be reduced for withdrawing from the program early.

Property owners would be able to lease their land.

The changes would eliminate local taxes on timber harvested from program land, but allow local governments to keep 80 percent of closed acreage fees.

Right now 100 percent of those fees go to the state forestry account.

The changes now go to the state Assembly.

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WASHINGTON - The new boss of the House is confronting the same tea party challenges as his predecessor.

Speaker Paul Ryan is scrambling to avoid an embarrassing fiscal defeat this year in the face of a hard-right conservative revolt over last fall's spending-and-tax plan.

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MADISON - The Legislature's budget committee has approved state health officials' request to spend more on Wisconsin's mental health institutes.

The Department of Health Services wants to spend an additional $15.8 million beyond the state budget on upgrades at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison, the Winnebago Mental Health Institute near Oshkosh and three centers for the mentally disabled in Madison, Union Grove and Chippewa Falls.

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EAGLE RIVER - Vilas County's courthouse expansion could look a little different and sit in a different spot than previously agreed upon, but those changes could save close to a million dollars and speed up construction.  Tuesday, a county committee agreed that's a good path to take.

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