RHINELANDER - The world spent the last few days looking to the roof of the Sistine Chapel for white smoke. Yesterday we met the new Pope for the first time.
But he takes control of the Catholic Church at a challenging time. Still, Northwoods Catholics are confident.
As tens of thousands of faithful watched for white smoke in St. Peter's square, more than a billion Catholics around the world waited to find out who their new leader would be. That included students right here at Nativity of our Lord Catholic School in Rhinelander.
"The kids were really excited. And then we prayed for him that he would lead us, lead the church in so many wonderful ways into the future," says Mary Mangerson, a Nativity Kindergarten Teacher.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina made history Wednesday in more than one way. He's the first non-European Pope in nearly 2,000 years.
"It's a very positive and very historical change. Because the developing world is being represented now, where many of the poor and marginalized are being left behind," says Father Tom Thakadipuram.
He's also the first Pope to choose the name Francis, after Saint Francis of Assisi. One of the things he represents is rebuilding the Church.
"He heard that call to rebuild the church. I think that is the main message now. Because the Church has been wrought with different issues," says Father Tom.
The Papacy and future of the Catholic Church has been the focal point of international news for weeks. Every network has been on Pope-watch for days. Non Catholics KNOW the Pope's kind of a big deal, but why? What does the Pope mean to Catholics?
"We know that leaders are important to us in our everyday lives and as a Catholic we look to our leaders to guide us in our faith," says Stacie Simkins, a Nativity 2nd Grade Teacher.
"He becomes the face of Christ. He becomes the face of stability and at the same time inspiration to the new world," says Father Tom.
"I think it's a feeling of belonging; everyone belongs to this family, and he is the leader of our family," says Mangerson.
As the world learns more about this reportedly humble man from Buenos Aires, Catholics are hoping for someone up to the task of leading them through the challenges the Church faces.
"I think we need a leader who's pastoral. And he appears to me to be someone who loves people and has a gentle spirit," says Mangerson.
NORTHWOODS - The high-dosage flu shot for people 65 and older is stronger than the regular one, but holding off for a couple weeks could help keep you flu free for even longer.
The CDC says all ages should get the flu shot as soon as possible, and many pharmacy chains have started pushing shots in the late summer. But some health professionals think waiting a couple weeks might pay off.
"Why they advertise it so early doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. It takes two weeks for it to kick in, and flu season lasts six months. So if you do get vaccinated too early you do run the risk of being prepared for the early part of flu season, but you may not be covered then through the end of flu season," said St. Germain Health Mart pharmacist Jennifer Hansen.
FLORENCE - In Florence County, more people work in forestry-related jobs than in any other industry.
"It's unbelievable, the way I put it," said logger Jaden Streu. "There are a lot, a lot of jobs and a lot of people that are retiring."
Streu graduated from Florence High School this spring and immediately went to work for his family's business, CTL Timber Harvesting.
Streu was among the presenters at Wednesday's Log-A-Load educational day at Florence.
"I think the big thing is, this industry is changing, from some of the equipment [the students] saw that was working here today. It's highly technical equipment," Florence District Administrator Ben Niehaus said.
"My favorite station was the sawmill," said Florence fourth grader Hannah Holdaway. "I didn't know that they cut it with a machine. I thought they just cut it with a saw."
"I think they leave here with a whole different perspective of, 'Wow, this isn't just a chainsaw and something that looks like a bulldozer that picks wood up and decks it on a log truck. There's a lot more to it,'" Niehaus said.
People like Streu would like to leave a positive impression of the forestry industry on students.
"We hope that they leave [saying], 'This ain't bad. This is a good thing,'" he said.
Hopefully, as Streu sees it, some of these learners will someday become his coworkers in the forest.
"We need the younger generation to come in, like me, to take it over and keep it going," Streu said. "It's a family business and I can have kids, hopefully, and be able to show them and bring them up in it and keep it going generations after generations."
Students from both Florence and Wabeno came to the Log-A-Load day.
STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point police want your help finding suspects in two possible stabbings. The stabbings happened early Friday morning and early Sunday morning near downtown Stevens Point.
Friday, four young men got into a fight on Main Street. One man said he was stabbed in the chest. Police say the suspect is a black man in his mid-20s, about 5' 9" tall, with a muscular build and short hair. The victim was treated at the hospital and released.
Sunday morning, police responded to an incident at 2nd Street and Crosby Avenue. Witnesses heard glass breaking and people yelling about a stabbing. Police don't have a victim or suspect description in that case, but they don't believe the two stabbings are connected.
If you have any information about the stabbings, call Detective Sgt. Gruber at 715-346-1518.
You can also call Portage County Crimestoppers to remain anonymous at 888-346-6600.
STATEWIDE - City, county, and town leaders hope you Turn Out for Transportation Thursday night. Seventy-one of the state's 72 counties will hold public forums for people to learn more about the state's transportation budget.
The idea for the forums comes from the "Just Fix It" campaign, which many counties have supported to encourage state lawmakers to find a better way to pay for roadwork.
You can find the location and time for your county's meeting via the link below.
MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials have pushed back the release of updates to their chronic wasting disease plan to this spring.
The DNR has a 15-year plan that expires in 2025. It calls for reducing local herds in isolated areas of infection that appear far from known disease clusters but centers largely on monitoring. The DNR's board ordered a review of the plan by this December amid concerns the disease has been spreading.
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