RHINELANDER - Losing internet and cell phone service can be frustrating. It happens to some people every day, especially those who live in rural areas.
Oneida County is working to turn that trend around.
The board's Technology Committee started polling people about their internet service all across the county.
Crescent is the latest town to get its results in and the numbers aren't good. One in three people had no service at all. Fifteen percent of people with service weren't satisfied.
County Board Supervisor Bob Martini lives in Crescent. He knows limited access is a problem all across the Northwoods.
"I think most of the county would have similar numbers," Martini said. "The point is, we want to make sure people have the option to have better service so that we can increase entrepreneurship, increase jobs, improve students ability to interact with their schools at the K-12 level, improve the general life of people."
The Tech Committee plans to present its survey results to the full county board next month.
They'll then work with the board to see how the county can help to improve internet access. Martini wants to make it clear: the internet is important to everyone, whether you use it or not.
"This is the 21st century equivalent of the railroad back in the 1880s," Martini said. "It's absolutely essential, it's not an option, it's not a frill, it's important for everybody. And it'll be more important in the future."
The county can only help so much. There are state statutes that prevent counties and towns from serving as providers.
But Martini knows there are changes the board can make that will help. He suggests the county work on building towers and include laying fiber optic cables when new roads get paved.
RHINELANDER - The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission will get its long-awaited federal funding installment by October 4.
The timing means no Northwoods Transit Connections drivers will have to voluntarily furlough their pay, but the requirement of 24-hour advance notice for rides will stay in place.
Transit Commission Chair Erv Teichmiller learned the news over the weekend.
The commission is waiting on an expected payment of $300,000 from the federal government. In 2016, that money came in early September. As of last Friday, the commission wasn't expecting the payment until as late as November.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander factory that makes smoke flavoring caught fire early Monday morning.
Shortly before 6:00 a.m., Rhinelander, Crescent and Newbold Fire Departments responded to a fire at Red Arrow Products on Rhinelander's west side.
An employee says there were about eight workers inside at the time.
No one was injured.
"Flames were coming out of a conveyor area as high as the roof. We made an interior attack and knocked that flame down. Came in from the other side of the partition wall, then made another interior attack and knocked that down," says Chief Terry Williams.
As of 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, firefighters were still working to make sure the flames were out.
MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker has selected a former legislator to run the state Department of Natural Resources.
Walker's office announced Monday that he has chosen former Republican state Rep. Dan Meyer to serve as DNR secretary. He replaces Cathy Stepp, who resigned in August to take a position in President Donald Trump's administration.
HARSHAW - Oneida County sheriff's deputies found three runaway sisters, ages 14, 14, and 12, in the woods in Harshaw just after 1 p.m. on Monday.
The sisters had been reported missing by their parents Monday morning. The parents had gone to wake the girls up for school, but instead found a note saying they had gone on an "adventure."
The missing girls triggered a search from the Oneida County Sheriff's Office Special Response Unit, Newbold Fire Department Search and Rescue, Minocqua Fire Department, Lake Tomahawk Fire Department, and Little Rice Fire Department.
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