Rhinelander's Mayor cautiously optimistic mill buyer will keep plant open
Story By Lane Kimble
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.
NORTHWOODS - The U.S. Forest Service will hire thousands of temporary workers this spring. Leaders at the Chequamegon Nicolet Forest Service want to hire more than 50 temporary employees to work during summer. They're looking for people with diverse backgrounds and plenty of experience.
WAUSAU - Enrollment for health coverage will end soon. That's why healthcare providers participated in "Super Saturday".
Bridge Clinic in Wausau welcomed people to sign up for health insurance options Saturday.
The Open Enrollment deadline is February 15th. If you don't sign up before then, it could cost you $325 or more depending on your income.
"We recommend just make an informed choice. Don't just let it lapse and get the penalty, be surprised with a penalty later on. Come in, make an informed choice. There are health care options," said Bridge Community Health Clinic Executive Director Laura Scudiere.
MILWAUKEE - A winter storm warning will go into effect in the Milwaukee area and far southern Wisconsin on Saturday night â€" and the National Weather Service says as much as 10 inches of snow could fall in Kenosha County by early Monday.
Snow is forecast to begin falling late Saturday and continue all day Sunday. Lake-effect snow is expected to combine with a low pressure system from the south to drive up snowfall totals in far southeast Wisconsin. Milwaukee could see up to 9 inches.
Blowing and drifting snow is expected and winds could gust to over 30 mph, making travel dangerous.
Other parts of the state, including Sheboygan, Dodge, and Waukesha counties, will be under a winter weather advisory starting Saturday night. Snow accumulations could reach 4 to 7 inches.
NEW YORK - More than 2 million Toyota, Chrysler and Honda vehicles are being recalled for a second fix for faulty air bags that may inadvertently inflate while the car is running.
The recall includes some Acura MDX, Dodge Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Odyssey, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Avalon models made from 2002 to 2004.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says all the vehicles covered in Saturday's announcement had already been under a recall for the faulty air bags, but the carmakers' original attempts to fix the defects only worked about 85 percent of the time.
PINE RIVER - Firefighters in Pine River had a tough day Saturday. They battled a house fire Friday night.
Crews didn't finish cleaning up the scene until 3:30 Saturday morning. Then they got called to a second fire in the afternoon.
The first fire happened at 9:12 p.m. The Lincoln County Dispatch Center got a call about a possible structure fire on County Highway WW in the Town of Pine River. That's east of Merrill, but when the Pine River Department got there, the house was in flames.
ST. GERMAIN - Bikinis and snowmobiles don't typically mix. Except, when you're at the St. Germain Bikini Run.
The event draws a huge crowd every year and it raised thousands of dollars for charity.
"We started with six girls and maybe $8000 seven years ago. Now, we're up to 33 girls today and more than $50,000," says Mark Hiller, the St. Germain Radar Run race director. "Every year it just grows, and grows."
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