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NEWS STORIES

Ginseng Board Strikes $200 Million Deal with Chinese CompanySubmitted: 04/23/2013
Story By Lex Gray


EDGAR - You see "Made in China" stickers every time you go to the store.

But soon, Chinese people will be seeing more Wisconsin-grown and made products in their stores.

Governor Walker went on a trade mission to China last week to help generate business in Wisconsin.

"Ginseng in our area is a pretty popular thing because of our soil and climate," said ginseng farmer Joe Heil. "Marathon County is the leading producer of ginseng in the US."


Heil is the president of the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin. He farms corn, soybean and 100 acres of ginseng. Ginseng is highly valued as an herbal medication, especially in Asia.

"It's definitely a bigger challenge. Soybeans, corn, anyone can grow that crop," he said. "Ginseng is a real challenge, there's no books, there's not been a lot of research done as far as how to grow it, because it's such a challenge."

But there's a payoff. Heil's fields are muddy and snow-covered now, but in October, they're worth upwards of $100,000 per acre.

Governor Walker worked out a big ginseng deal with Chinese leaders last week.

He announced growers could export $200 million worth of ginseng over the next ten years. Most of it will come from Marathon County.

"We understand a win-win proposition," Walker said from Beijing. "For us, a strong Chinese economy is just as important to us as a strong American economy in Wisconsin is for the people of China."

Heil hopes Governor Walker's trade mission will help Wisconsin's ginseng industry grow.

"I'm hoping that it's sustainable enough that young people will start getting back into the business or taking over the family farms," he said. "That's one thing we've seen, if we go back about ten years we have 1500 farmers and now we're down to about 140 in the state of Wisconsin just because it's not been profitable."

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 IN OTHER NEWS

MEDFORD - 28 middle aged and elderly people will need to find housing after an apartment fire in Medford Saturday.

It happened a little before 1 p.m. The Medford Police Department says the fire happened in Riverview Village Apartments on the third floor.

Medford Police Chief Ken Coyer says a neighbor smelled and saw smoke.

The 28 people who lived there were displaced due to smoke, fire and water damage throughout the building. Red Cross helped them at Medford Area Senior High School to make arrangments for housing.

The chief says this was an accidental fire.

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MILWAUKEE - A driver who entered Interstate 94 the wrong way is dead and five others are injured after a six-vehicle crash in Milwaukee County.

According to the county sheriff's department, 32-year-old Marcos Cortez, of Wauwatosa, entered the freeway at about 8 p.m. Friday travelling westbound in the eastbound lanes without headlights on when he crashed into another car.

Cortez died on the scene. The three people in the car he struck were not seriously injured.

Four other vehicles were involved in secondary crashes, with two people taken to hospitals for minor injuries.

The eastbound freeway was shut down for nearly 5 hours while deputies investigated.

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THREE LAKES - Many people get their tax forms at Northwoods libraries. But they might not get everything they need to file their taxes at the library this year.

The IRS won't be able to send local libraries every free tax form and instruction booklets because of budget cuts.

At the Demmer Memorial Library in Three Lakes, the free tax forms are usually a popular service. The library's director think many people will be let down. But the library will still offer some of the tax forms people will need.

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WAKEFIELD - Close to 3,000 people in Gogebic County experienced a widespread power outage Friday.

The Gogebic County Sheriff's Office aren't sure how it happened, but power is being restored.

They say the outage affected much of the county, but it was narrowed down to the city of Wakefield. About 50 percent of the city was without power.

Deputies say the city of Wakefield maintains its own power grid. They say Wakefield Electric Department and Xcel Energy worked all day Saturday to restore power.

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MINOCQUA - A large crowd had the chance to try a wide variety of tasty chilli Saturday.

The Minocqua Brewing Company hosted their fourth annual Chilly Chili Challenge. People had the chance to try 10 different chili's.

Minocqua Brewing Company Manager Doug Etten says the warm weather might have played a roll in how many people came out Saturday.

"It's so nice out this weekend that we've got a lot of people in the area, but they'll be out doing some stuff," said Etten. "We understand that and they should be because that's why they come to the Northwoods."

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MEDFORD - Members of the Medford Curling Club celebrated their 100 year anniversary this weekend. The club began its first curling season in July of 1914 and has steadily built a following during the past century. Club members believe media exposure has brought more attention to curling locally and across the country.

"I think the Olympics have done a great boost for curling, clubs are popping up all over the United States now," said Centennial Committee Chairman Jeff Mueller. "You can meet people all over the country, you mention curling, they say they saw it on the Olympics. Unlike years ago when they thought it was just some boring shuffleboard on ice type of thing, people really get into it."

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ATLANTA - Police who searched two airplanes in Atlanta found no bombs following online threats made against the aircraft.

FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett said law enforcement officials finished their search Saturday night at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The threats targeted Southwest Airlines Flight 2492, which arrived from Milwaukee, and Delta Air Lines Flight 1156, which arrived from Portland, Oregon.

Both flights arrived safely.
NORAD spokesman Preston Schlachter said the threats were made through Twitter, an online social media network. The military dispatched two F-16 fighter jets to shadow the planes until they reached the airport.

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