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Northwoods Residents Voice Opinion at Budget Listening SessionSubmitted: 04/22/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray


Photos By Shardaa Gray

WAUSAU - It can be easy to feel like you don't have much of a say in politics.

But several Democratic state lawmakers wanted to hear what their constituents think of the state's checkbook.

Northwoods residents voiced their opinion at a budget listening session in Wausau.

One of the main issues was Governor Walker's Education funding.

Representative Mandy Wright is a former teacher.

She's worried school in her district, Wausau, won't get a fair shake.

"All of the schools actually that were failing have high levels of poverty and high level of needs for their students and families," Wright said.

"So as we see job loses, as we see our economy not recovering the way we'd like to, we're very concerned about seeing voucher expansion which pulls money away from our public schools and funds an entirely separate school system."

Representative Wright says there will be another listening session Tuesday at Northcentral Technical College starting at 6:30 p.m.

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MILWAUKEE - The FBI says a Milwaukee woman added to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list this week has been arrested in North Carolina.

Twenty-four-year-old Shanika Minor is accused of fatally shooting Tamecca Perry and her unborn child in Milwaukee last March.

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EAGLE RIVER - A woman will need to recover after colliding with a car on her bicycle Thursday night near Eagle River, according to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office.

The woman was riding south on Highway 45 when she tried to turn onto Evergreen Road. That's when a southbound car collided with the bicyclist.

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MADISON - A new judge will be taking the bench in Marathon County.

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MERRILL - Bryson Cruise hopes the watermelon he blew up Friday morning is the closest anyone gets to an injury this weekend.

But the Merrill firefighter and paramedic knows chances are he'll likely respond to humans instead of fruit the next three days.

"It becomes a pretty busy weekend pretty quick," Cruise said.

Friday, Cruise and members of the Merrill Fire Department set off mortar shells and firecrackers demonstrating how quickly a fun holiday activity can turn into a trip to the ER.

"About 55 percent of those are related to your hands, arms, legs, kind of the extremities of your body," Cruise said.

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MINOCQUA - The campus at Lakeland Union High School will add an iconic piece to the area. The school is looking at different places to put the old T-Bird Country Bridge.

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PORTAGE CO. - A 47-year-old Almond man now faces charges for his 5th OWI, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol.

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ANTIGO - You can spot plenty of wildlife in orthern Wisconsin. However, you don't typically see a black belly barbado sheep or a royal palm turkey.

You can go check them out at the new It's All Good Farmstand and Petting Zoo right off Highway 45 in Antigo.

The It's All Good Farmstand and Petting Zoo has a simple goal. It wants people to see interesting animals.
"We decided, what the heck, we should open something to the public to so that everybody that does not have farm critters and enjoy them like we do, can come in and pet the critters and learn a lot of stuff," said owner Cheryl Wirz.

Wirz decided to have her family be part of her staff. It's something she really enjoys.

"I love the fact that my kids are here and they're getting a hands on experience," said Wirz.

"I mostly help load and unload the animals from home to here. Also, I fill up all the water when we get here, and I run the food booth," said staff member and son Aiden Wirz.

That all adds up to work for their kids and there are some perks to working for your parents.

"Mostly, they can't fire me," said Aiden, laughing.

Most animals look familiar to the guests when they come right up to them, but what about the specific breeds?

"We try to promote rare and critically endangered breeds of farm animals. Most people don't even know what they are," said Cheryl Wirz.

The Wirz family is also passionate about the quality of food for their animals.

"We do all organic produce and all of our critters eat all organic. In fact, we grow most of their food," said Cheryl Wirz.

Some young kids might be a litte nervous of the animals at first, but the friendly staff is there to help.

"Little ones will be really nervous and scared, but after awhile they're calmed down and they really love it," said staff member Natasha Lewer.

Even with all the hard work that goes into owning a farm, the happy visitors make it all worth it.

"They light up when they're in there. We had a gentleman that was in a wheelchair and all the animals surrounded him and he was just smiling from ear to ear," said Cheryl Wirz.

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