Joint Finance Committee considers where public workers can live and workSubmitted: 05/09/2013
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Joint Finance Committee considers where public workers can live and work
MADISON - Republicans often brand themselves as the party fighting for local control.

But Governor Walker proposed taking away some of the control for cities and towns.

And now, some Republicans are pushing back.

In February, the governor released his budget proposal.

Part of it proposed taking away residency requirements for government workers.

But many cities require police and firefighters to live close to town so they can get to emergencies faster.

The move to take away that right has Democrats and even some fellow Republicans upset.

"We do need responders. We need responders to live within a district or an area that they can respond timely. That's my biggest concern," says Marshfield Republican Rep. John Spiros.

"I think it's a bad idea. I think it infringes on local control, and I think we should leave it up to our local communities to assess the needs of their community and address them as they see fit," says Wausau Democratic Rep. Mandy Wright.

Just about every city in the Northwoods has some type of residency requirement.

Some only apply to emergency workers, while others are for a broader range of city employees.

Thursday, the state's Joint Finance Committee approved Walker's proposal, but with a twist.

It also passed an amendment by Representative John Nygren which would still allow counties, cities and towns to require emergency workers, like police and firefighters, to live within 15 miles of the borders.

The proposal now would still need to go before the state Senate, assembly and back to the Governor before it becomes law.

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RHINELANDER - The ground won't thaw for another month or so, but you can start planning your garden now.

You'll have to wait until mid-May to plant flowers, but you can get away with some vegetable seeds.

Bare root plants are also a good option for early-spring.

Those include apple trees, blueberry and raspberry bushes.

"We can help out here when you come out and make sure you get everything you need to get started.

It's mostly getting it established in the ground and you can just let it grow, says Beth Hanson.

Hanson Garden Village's Spring Preview is this Saturday and open to the public.

If you want to find out more about their spring planting classes, click below.

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MADISON - The entire state of Wisconsin will be placed under quarantine for emerald ash borer.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced the quarantine will take effect March 30th.

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EAGLE RIVER - Jesse Kuczmarski always dreamed of owning his own body shop. His wife, Chantel, thought it would be neat to work with her husband.

Both now have what they want. The Kuczmarskis became the new owners of Accent Auto Body in Eagle River in October.

Jesse works on cars, while Chantel handles social media, taxes, and administration.

"The first day that we worked together, we looked at each other, and we just thought, wow, this is just so amazing to be able to work together," Chantel said. "It was so peaceful in the shop."

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RHINELANDER - Old kitchen cabinets got a fresh coat of paint Tuesday morning in the back of an old building that Kate Bauman is bringing new life to.

"We really kind of want to make our home here," Bauman said.

Over the last few weeks, Bauman and her husband Elvis transformed 146 North Brown Street in Rhinelander from office space into a storefront for their store "Unique Creations."

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MADISON - The Wisconsin Senate has unanimously approved an $80 million juvenile justice overhaul plan that would close the troubled Lincoln Hills prison by 2021 and replace it with smaller regional facilities.

The Senate voted without any debate Tuesday to pass the plan, which largely mirrors what the Assembly unanimously approved last month.

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RHINELANDER - Looking back on his 28 years as airport director, Joe Brauer says he has a lot to be proud of. 

"When we got the disabled passenger lift, the non-motorized one, we were very, very proud of that," said Brauer, who's worked as the airport director for 28 years. He's also been in the airline business for 20 years. 

Now, the longtime Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport director will be passing things off to a familiar face. 

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ARBOR VITAE - You won't want to wear your best clothes to one race in May.

Minocqua's Color Run Fundraiser is a 3K and 5K race for Arbor Vitae-Woodruff and MJ1 schools.

The race is one of the schools' biggest fundraisers for field trips, additional school supplies and equipment.

The Color Run raised almost $20,000 last year.

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