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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

MINOCQUA - A Green Bay man died in a snowmobile crash in Minocqua Tuesday night.

The Minocqua Police Department says the crash happened at 7:13 p.m. on Lower Kaubashine Road near the intersection of Camp Nine Road and Cedar Falls Drive.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 01/18/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll bring you an update on the search for two Antigo children who are thought to have been taken away to the Black Hills area by their non-custodial mother.

We'll tell you about a Tomahawk teacher who received a literacy award from the state.

And we'll introduce you to a local carpenter/welder who takes a little bit of fantasy and imagination and makes it into reality.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MADISON - The state appeals court says a judge properly moved a teen offender into the adult system after saying he thought the boy would be safer there than in the state's troubled youth prison.

The teen was accused of sexually assaulting a fifth-grader.

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CORNUCOPIA, WISCONSIN - The National Park Service says it's still too dangerous to explore the Apostle Islands ice caves off the Wisconsin shore of Lake Superior.

When accessible, the majestic ice caves have attracted tens of thousands of visitors to the area.

The park service doesn't know if the ice will be safe enough this season.

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STEVENS POINT - A baby in Portage County ended up in the hospital for seizures twice in three days last fall.  Police think the mother's live-in boyfriend may have shaken that baby.

Matthew Huettl, 25, pleaded not guilty to felony charges for first-degree reckless injury and child abuse in Portage County Court on Tuesday.

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VILAS COUNTY - A 77-year-old man died in a crash near Boulder Junction late Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol, it happened around 3:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 51 and County Highway H.

Investigators think a van went through an intersection and hit a semi truck.

"There was injury," said Boulder Junction Fire Chief Matthew Reuss. "The two passengers in the van had to be extricated. One was taken to Howard Young Medical Center for further care. The driver of the semi was uninjured and the second passenger in the van was pronounced dead at the scene."

According to Wisconsin State Patrol, the driver of the van is a 68-year-old woman from Colby. Crews later took her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield for non-life threatening injuries. Her passenger, a 77-year-old male from Colby, died in the crash. They were both wearing seatbelts. 

The driver of the semi is 63 years old and from South Range. 

Traffic was rerouted through Boulder Junction for several hours and was reopened shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Several units responded to the scene.

"Because we had multiple patients, we dispatched multiple ambulance units," Reuss said. "We called in resources from Arbor Vitae for traffic control and we called Manitowish Waters for help in extrication and ambulance service as well as Medic 5 out of Howard Young."

State Patrol and the Vilas County Sheriff's Office will investigate the crash.

Police will not release the names until the families are notified. 

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HARSHAW - On his home computer, Phil Hejtmanek gets used to waiting patiently as webpages load, seeing spinning wheels as videos buffer, and putting work on pause as downloads slowly trickle in.

"Streaming a movie on Netflix is a pipe dream," Hejtmanek said with a laugh. "That's impossible."

Hejtmanek lives on West Horsehead Lake in the Oneida County town of Cassian. His best option for internet service is DSL provided by Frontier, a technology which is a distant memory for many people in cities.

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