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Lanes Reduced On Highway 51 ConstructionSubmitted: 05/01/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray


Photos By Shardaa Gray

MINOCQUA - You might want to give yourself extra time if you plan to travel through Minocqua.

Construction on highway 51 has been reduced to one lane both ways.

Right now, construction workers have already started digging the outside lanes in preparation for curbs and gutters.

They'll also be installing a storm sewer.

Project Development Supervisor Robin Stafford says this will benefit the community and the environment.

"We're going to be discharging cleaner waters into the lakes. So it's all new storm sewer, all new curb and gutter, new pavement," Stafford said.

"The community, Lakeland sanitary district is also putting in new sanitary water lines with this project."

Even though we're often rushed to get from place to place, Stafford says to be mindful of road workers.

"We ask everybody to pay attention because our lanes shift, our cones and our barrels are moving all the time," said Stafford.

"So if you want to enter and exit side roads or driveways, things are changing constantly. So we ask that everyone use a lot of caution in the construction zone."

The next informational meeting for the project will be Thursday May 9th.

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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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STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point police want your help finding suspects in two possible stabbings.  The stabbings happened early Friday morning and early Sunday morning near downtown Stevens Point.

Friday, four young men got into a fight on Main Street. One man said he was stabbed in the chest.  Police say the suspect is a black man in his mid-20s, about 5' 9" tall, with a muscular build and short hair.  The victim was treated at the hospital and released.

Sunday morning, police responded to an incident at 2nd Street and Crosby Avenue. Witnesses heard glass breaking and people yelling about a stabbing.  Police don't have a victim or suspect description in that case, but they don't believe the two stabbings are connected.

If you have any information about the stabbings, call Detective Sgt. Gruber at 715-346-1518.

You can also call Portage County Crimestoppers to remain anonymous at 888-346-6600.

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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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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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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 comes from the "Just Fix It" campaign, which many counties have signed encouraging 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 - 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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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. 

Andrew Headings takes care of 25,000 chickens and all of their eggs. With that comes a lot of record keeping.

"Their body weight every day, how much they ate, I can figure that out," said Headings.

Headings started the Headings Family Farm in August. He says he is looking to make the birds even happier this week.

"I'm going to be free range humane certified. I have a big fence out here that fences in about 16 acres. On a nice day, my chickens are going to be allowed to go out and be able to scratch around in this grass and Pasteur," said Headings.

All of his eggs go to Heading's parent farm in Illinois before being sold around the country.

"He's a specialty egg company. We're into organic, non-GMO, omega eggs, double omega, cage free, all of his barns are cage free," said Headings.

There's a good reason you don't see many chicken farms in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

"I didn't look around the country and say 'let's put a barn here because it's ideal', the more ideal would be down south because the cold makes it to where we have to heat so we can't ventilate as much," said Headings.

Even with the cold temperatures, Headings has an eco-friendly plan for heating.

"We have a heater, an 800,000btu heater sitting by the center and we'll have a 10-ton bin sitting there and I'll buy conventional corn, put it in the bin and the stove will burn the corn," said Headings.

That's not the only thing that's eco-friendly on the farm. Headings has tried cutting down on the smell, too.
"The amount of smell we put off in this neighborhood is very minimal. If you get 300 feet away from here, you probably can't smell this thing," said Headings.

You might not smell it, but you sure can appreciate all the hard work.

"Compared to just driving by and saying, 'there's a chicken barn', there's a lot that's involved," said Headings.

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