Rhinelander's Mayor cautiously optimistic mill buyer will keep plant openSubmitted: 03/22/2013
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Rhinelander's Mayor cautiously optimistic mill buyer will keep plant open
RHINELANDER - We need to wait awhile to figure out how the sale of Wausau Paper's Rhinelander and Mosinee mills will really effect the communities.

But Friday night, we did find a sense of cautious optimism coming from city leadership.

Rhinelander Mayor Dick Johns worked at the paper mill from 1955 to 1994. He's seen plenty of changes at the plant over the years, including three separate sales.

That past experience keeps him hopeful for the future.

"Confident's not a good word, but I'm hoping that it will be," Johns said. "That's important to all of us. You know, we have PrintPack down on the other side of town, that's an improvement to our community and we're proud of that and we're proud of that paper company."

KPS Capital Partners in New York invested $130 million to buy the two Wisconsin mills.

They're offering Wausau Paper 25 percent ownership in the new paper company they plan to form. Wausau Paper claims the investment group has "significant experience" in the paper business.

Mayor Johns hopes KPS understands Rhinelander needs to keep its mill.

"Any industry in this day and age is important to the community, especially when it's over 100 years old, you've had it here and it's been a part of your community for those many years," Johns said.

The sale isn't official just yet. There are seveal steps to go through, including establishing a new collective bargaining agreement with the unions.

Wausau Paper hopes to wrap things up by the end of the second quarter this year.

KPS invested in Waupaca Foundry, Inc., based in Waupaca, Wisconsin. Just last month, Waupaca Foundry dolled out a $200 million return to investers.

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WOODRUFF - The state will no longer use county-by-county rules to attempt to slow the spread of deadly emerald ash borer (EAB).

Next Friday, all of Wisconsin will be under an EAB quarantine. That means ash wood can now move freely around the state.

In the current system, individual counties are quarantined only if the tree pest was found there. The state restricted the movement of ash wood between infected counties and those free from EAB, trying to keep more areas "clean."

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RHINELANDER - The ground won't thaw for another month or so, but you can start planning your garden now.

You'll have to wait until mid-May to plant flowers, but you can get away with some vegetable seeds.

Bare root plants are also a good option for early-spring. Those include apple trees, blueberry and raspberry bushes.

"We can help out here when you come out and make sure you get everything you need to get started."

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CRANDON - An inmate in the Forest County Jail committed suicide Wednesday morning. 

According to a press release from the Forest County Sheriff's Office, jail staff found the man shortly after 6:30 a.m.

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EAGLE RIVER - You typically find cotton or denim running through her sewing machine, but Chris Gaffron has been sewing a lot of plastic lately.

"It's just straight stitching, so anyone can do it," Gaffron said.

The "StitchIt" custom embroidery store owner worked on sewing old plastic feed bags from a friend's horse barn, which don't biodegrade.  Gaffron and her friend talked about ways to make better use of the trash and came up with an idea to help the homeless.

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CRANDON - A Crandon parent group wants school board members removed in a recall election. That process started Wednesday.

Last Thursday, the board suspended superintendent Dr. Doug Kryder while he's under investigation by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

The group, Citizens United for Education, supported that move, but its concerns extend beyond Kryder. It says the board is unwilling to listen to its concerns.

Community member Jeff Albrecht plans to run in the recall election. Last Monday, he spoke before Kryder, the board, and about 200 people at a school board meeting.

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EAGLE RIVER - Now that spring has sprung, many of us will be looking forward to warmer temperatures.

But these cool temperatures are keeping sap harvesters in business.

For the last 23 years, Yukon Jack has made his own maple syrup from trees in his own yard in Eagle River.

"Normally, I make 30 to 40 gallons," said Jack.

This year, things are looking good for Jack and his syrup.

"This is going to be a good year," said Jack.

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