ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - You probably turned up the heat this winter. And you may not have thought how that could impact your bill in years to come. But utility companies estimate future rate increases due to previous usage. And that could mean bigger bills in the future.
Wisconsin Public Service is proposing an increase on utility rates. Rates have remained relatively stable over the past five years. But the increase would have an effect.
"That would really only equate to a dollar, over the last six years, a dollar per month increase. Overall, electric rates are staying fairly stable," says Leah Van Zile, WPS Community Relations.
WPS has proposed the increase based off estimates of what costs will be in the future. In past years, over estimates means customers actually saved money.
"That has resulted in very, very minimal impacts, if any. For example, residential customers, they have only seen a less than a one half percent [increase] over the last five years. And actually, natural gas prices have gone down," says Van Zile.
But the increase isn't set in stone yet. It's a long process to before you'll see a change in your utility bill.
"Because of how the process works, it's really an eighteen month process from start of planning what we might do to what the actual decision is," says Van Zile.
In fact, just last year a rate increase was proposed. But rates never rose. If WPS does raise the rates, you won't notice until your January bill.
WPS announced today it has filed a request for a rate increase with state regulators.
It is asking for a 7.4 percent bump in electric rates starting next year.
A 5.6 percent increase is in the works for natural gas.
WPS says the company's electric rates have been relatively flat in recent years, and that gas rates have actually fallen.
It will be up to the state public service commission to decide what rate increase will be allowed, if any.
CRANDON - Cutting down your time in front of a digital screen can be a tough task.
But the Forest County Health Department wants you to make a special effort to limit screen time next week. It's encouraging people to participate in Screen-Free Week.
"We're missing part of the world," said Forest County Health Department Director Jill Krueger. "We need to reconnect, go back, and discover all of the things that we loved before we had all of this technology."
RHINELANDER - People with developmental disorders can hear plenty of negatives when it comes to succeeding in school. That's why a Northwoods school offers a program to help these students prove the doubters wrong.
Nicolet College offers Jump! Start, which helps people with special needs go to college and prepare for the workforce.
College student Ashley Mathy has Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a condition listed on the autism spectrum.
As a high school senior, she was told she would never make it to college because she would fail.
"You're going to have failures. You're going to have people tell you that you can't do things all the time whether you have a disability or you don't have one. And you just have to prove them wrong because if you don't, then you'll just let failure take you away," said Mathy.
RHINELANDER - Nothing gets the competitive juices flowing like racing to fix a car's fuse box. Nicolet College in Rhinelander hosted 12 Northwoods high schools for some friendly competition with a specific goal in mind.
The competitions varied from auto skills to welding to even cupcake baking. The goal was for students to begin thinking about college.
"Getting to see the inner workings of a vehicle, getting to work and learn at the same time, it makes me think more about college and what I want to do with my future," said Crandon sophomore, Kegan Wilson.
RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry hopes you'll sample some of the area's best salads and win some prizes on Saturday.
The pantry is hosting the Garden Fresh Salad Bowl event at Holiday Acres. It's a fundraiser for the pantry, and several local restaurants are participating.
"It should be a very nice event. It's a beautiful setting," said Rhinelander Area Food Pantry Executive Director Guy Hansen. "We've got 12 different restaurants that have contributed salads toward this."
About half of the crowd will win handcrafted door prizes from the Northwoods Turners. The event runs from 11 to 1. Tickets are available at the food pantry, CT's Deli, Forth Floral, and People's State Bank.
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