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NEWS STORIES

Merrill Charter Serves Students StatewideSubmitted: 04/03/2013
MERRILL - As odd as it may sound, hundreds of kids are enrolled in the Merill School District without actually living anywhere near Merrill.

That's the new reality of virtual school.

Bridges Virtual Academy opened this year.

Administrator John Hagemeister expected about 100 kids to enroll. Instead, he got 500 from all over the state.

That's because Hagemeister's idea is unique. Before Bridges, he homeschooled his own kids.

He wanted to combine the freedom of homeschooling with the resources of public school.

The Reimer family of Arbor Vitae made the switch to Bridges this year.

"We do our schooling at home, but we're not technically homeschooling anymore," says Kathy Reimer.

As a homeschooler, Reimer wasn't allowed to take part in public school classes.

But Bridges Virtual Academy gives her more options.

"We did art lessons at the Campanile Center, piano lessons, and dance lessons for the girls," she said. "We probably could've provided one lesson for them, but this allows us to give them opportunities to do things we wouldn't normally be able to do."


John Hagemeister started the academy with more opportunities in mind.

"These are taxpayers and if you homeschool, they don't get anything in return. Some people like it that way, because there's no entanglement, there's no extras," he said. "But if there's a way we can partner, why shouldn't we try? They're taxpayers, they're community members, they're looking for some kind of educational service through us, so let's try and do it."

Taxpayers - including the Reimers - bought a computer for each of her kids. They also share an iPad and have access to teachers.

There is a trade-off for that support. As a homeschooler, Reimer didn't have to evaluate her kids at all. Now, she has to administer school and state tests.

But that doesn't bother her.

"The testing only confirms what I already know," she said. "Because you're homeschooling, you know your kids' strengths and you know your kids' weaknesses."

But beyond the testing, Reimer still gets to do things her way. That's different from most virtual schools.

"A typical virtual school is like taking this and putting it online, the brick and mortar and putting it online, and that's not what they're looking for," Hagemeister said. "They're looking for something that's flexible, time wise, curriculum wise."

"That opens up our ability to do things for our kids, and give them opportunities that we couldn't give them," Reimer said. "So that is a really great thing."

Story By: Lex Gray

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Garden tour Saturday to raise money for hospiceSubmitted: 07/25/2014

RHINELANDER - You can learn how to improve your garden while also supporting a Northwoods hospice provider.

The Master Gardeners of the North and Ministry Hospice will host a garden tour Saturday, July 26th. People will get to tour six gardens in Rhinelander's historic courthouse neighborhood.

Organizers hope the event will raise at least $2,000. That money will go to patients who are unable to pay for their services.

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Summer temperatures impact local toy salesSubmitted: 07/25/2014

RHINELANDER AND MINOCQUA - Summer gets us outside playing games on the lake or in the yard, but with cooler temperatures this year, trips to the lake may not be as popular.

That impacts certain businesses in a good way. Imaginuity toys stores in Minocqua and Rhinelander have noticed a difference in the toys they've sold this summer.

"We're definitely getting a lot more traffic with the cooler temperatures. A lot more people in the door, which we're loving. We are seeing a lot more people buying more project based items. They're buying a lot of the active play but not so much the water active," said Jessica Hatch, Store Manager.

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Wisconsin leads nation in producing mink peltsSubmitted: 07/25/2014

MADISON - Wisconsin leads the nation in the production of mink pelts.

Some of those pelts come from the northwoods, with mink farms in the Tomahawk and Irma areas.

The state accounted for one in three U.S. pelts last year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Wisconsin produced 1.13 million mink pelts last year.

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Wausau business man will spend 11 years in prison for fraud in 5 countiesSubmitted: 07/24/2014

NORTHWOODS - A former Wausau business man will spend 11 years in prison for defrauding more than a million dollars from homeowners and investors.

54-year-old Jay Fischer was found guilty of felonies of racketeering, theft, and fraud. He committed mortgage fraud through his Marathon County business Valley Title. He embezzled about $1million by failing to pay off old mortgages after homeowners got new ones. He did this to people in 5 counties including Vilas, Marathon, and Wood.

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Police: Man kills himself after shooting at police during car chase Submitted: 07/24/2014

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MARINETTE COUNTY - The Marinette County Sheriff's Office believes a 35-year-old man killed himself after shooting at deputies during a police chase Thursday in Marinette County.

A person called the sheriff's office just before 3 p.m. saying they were in their car, getting shot at by a person in a black Chevy Tahoe.

It was on U.S. 141 near Wausaukee in southern Marinette County.

Police caught up to the Tahoe before it started heading west on Highway 8.

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Local children explore emergency fields at NTCSubmitted: 07/24/2014

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MERRILL - Instead of just dreaming of being a firefighter, some children in Merrill actually got to try it out.

The Boys and Girls Club of Wausau went to Northcentral Technical College's Public Safety Center of Excellence in Merrill on Wednesday to explore careers in emergency fields.

"They're going to do one scenario where they're actually going to get put up into fire gear. And they're going to hook up a hose line on a fire truck and they're going to put out a dumpster fire," says Bert Nitzke, the Executive Director of Northcentral Technical College's Public Safety Center of Excellence.

Student's putting out the fire's say it was more difficult than it looked.

"It's kinda hard cause like the hose is pushing back really hard," says Jordyn Schalow, one of the students that took part in the training.

Students also got to experience EMS and police scenarios.

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Packers shareholders meeting at Lambeau FieldSubmitted: 07/24/2014

GREEN BAY - The only publicly owned team in U.S. professional sports is holding its annual shareholders meeting.

The Green Bay Packers are expecting more than 12,000 shareholders Thursday for the meeting at Lambeau Field. The Packers have about 364,000 owners.

The meeting is held in the open bowl of Lambeau. Shareholders will vote for three nominees to the board of directors, Associated Banc-Corp CEO Philip Flynn, Schreiber Foods CEO Michael Haddad and University of Wisconsin-Madison's Dr. Elizabeth Trowbridge.

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