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Wis. Ranks Low in Background Check ComplianceSubmitted: 04/14/2013
Story By Associated Press

MADISON - Wisconsin lags behind the top-performing states in the number of mental health records it submits to a national database used for background checks on gun purchases.

The state has made gains since 2011 in the number of records it submits to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The push to prevent mentally ill people from buying handguns followed the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech.

According to the state Department of Justice, Wisconsin submitted nearly 11,000 mental health records through December 2012.

According to a study by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Wisconsin only submitted about 6,000 in 2011.

That study determined Wisconsin would have to submit more than three times as many records to be on par with the best-performing states.



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APPLETON - Tuition and debt have jumped at Wisconsin's technical colleges, which are supposed to provide a more affordable option for career training than four-year universities or for-profit schools.

The Post-Crescent reports that U.S. Department of Education figures show many tech school students are facing bigger financial challenges than a few years ago.

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EAGLE RIVER - Highway workers do a dangerous job, working alongside traffic with very little protection.  A new state law could make those jobs a little safer.

A hand-held cellphone ban for work zones starts statewide Saturday.  Drivers cannot make or answer phone calls while in work zones unless they use Bluetooth or some sort of earpiece.

Vilas County Highway Commissioner Nick Scholtes calls the law change a great thing for the state.

"The ones that are on their phones, they seem a little oblivious to what we are doing there at the time," Scholtes said.  "They're going through the motions coming through the work zone but it's actually very scary at the same time because if they needed to stop quickly don't know if they could."

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FLORENCE - In Florence County, more people work in forestry-related jobs than in any other industry.

"It's unbelievable, the way I put it," said logger Jaden Streu. "There are a lot, a lot of jobs and a lot of people that are retiring."

Streu graduated from Florence High School this spring and immediately went to work for his family's business, CTL Timber Harvesting.

Streu was among the presenters at Wednesday's Log-A-Load educational day at Florence.

"I think the big thing is, this industry is changing, from some of the equipment [the students] saw that was working here today. It's highly technical equipment," Florence District Administrator Ben Niehaus said.

"My favorite station was the sawmill," said Florence fourth grader Hannah Holdaway. "I didn't know that they cut it with a machine. I thought they just cut it with a saw."

"I think they leave here with a whole different perspective of, 'Wow, this isn't just a chainsaw and something that looks like a bulldozer that picks wood up and decks it on a log truck. There's a lot more to it,'" Niehaus said.

People like Streu would like to leave a positive impression of the forestry industry on students.

"We hope that they leave [saying], 'This ain't bad. This is a good thing,'" he said.

Hopefully, as Streu sees it, some of these learners will someday become his coworkers in the forest.

"We need the younger generation to come in, like me, to take it over and keep it going," Streu said. "It's a family business and I can have kids, hopefully, and be able to show them and bring them up in it and keep it going generations after generations."

Students from both Florence and Wabeno came to the Log-A-Load day.

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RHINELANDER -
Hockey players in Rhinelander will see some big changes. 

After getting a large anonymous donation, the Rhinelander Ice Association will get a new training area, weight room, locker room, and more. 

Since work began in August, framing for the building has gone up and dry wall will be put in next week.

"Just the whole project is really exciting and really going to come together and improve Rhinelander, and improve athletics in Rhinelander," said Rhinelander Ice Association Rink Manager Brett Aylesworth. 

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STATEWIDE - City, county, and town leaders hope you Turn Out for Transportation Thursday night.  Seventy-one of the state's 72 counties will hold public forums for people to learn more about the state's transportation budget.

The idea for the forums comes from the "Just Fix It" campaign, which many counties have supported to encourage state lawmakers to find a better way to pay for roadwork.

You can find the location and time for your county's meeting via the link below.

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EAGLE RIVER - After a year of revisions, Northland Pines High School will start a new policy in December, drug testing some of its students. 

The school board voted and approved the new policy earlier this week.

For District Administrator Mike Richie, this is a way to stay proactive, helping both parents and students to avoid drug addiction.

"If there is a problem how we can prevent that problem, how can we get students to realize that this problem can only get worse as they get older and continue into the work force," said Richie.

 "I think we're going above and beyond, and I think that we need to help and assist parents this is a problem that exists all over, it's not just a Northern Wisconsin problem." 

To Richie this is a collaborative effort. 

Students will only be put into the pool to be randomly tested if they and their parents both opt into the policy and sign the permission form.

 Forms for parents and students to opt into the policy will be sent out within the next couple of weeks. 

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LINCOLN COUNTY - In the Northwoods, plenty of families sell organic eggs from their small farms. But a new chicken farm near Gleason takes production to a different level.

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