WOODRUFF - The capitol may be far away but one of our local legislators wants to bring it closer. Assemblyman Rob Swearingen is meeting with constituents around the 34th district.
He visited Woodruff and Eagle River today.
Swearingen is five months into his freshman term. He wants to make sure people can put a face to his name.
He also wants reach those who might be skeptical of him because of his political party.
"You get that, just because I have the "R" in the back of my name that you're automatically not going to be friendly to those issues. And we encourage you to reach out. I may respond and it may not be the response you want to hear, but if you're going to ask me an honest question I'm going to give you an honest answer," says Rep. Swearingen.
Swearingen says everyone's working hard on the budget in Madison. He's hearing a lot of concerns about school funding locally.
"I just really feel that people should be engaged with their own local legislators so the legislator knows them, and knows how they feel. And I showed him my tax bill and he got a real perspective for someone who's on a fixed income and how all the costs for education impact one of his constituents," says Shirley Kufeldt, from Conover.
"We're looking for more funding for the K-12 funding program. I think there's been a lot of heightened awareness in the capital on both sides of the isle and in the Governor's office. So I'm looking for hopefully some good results to help rural schools as the budget moves forward before the Governor signs it in the first part of July," says Rep. Swearingen.
Swearingen's first budget motion was to allow Nicolet College to be eligible for state aid based on enrollment. That motion passed unanimously.
He says his weekly drive to his office in Madison is a reality check.
"There's the state capitol and you realize that your office is inside that building. It's a really surreal feeling to walk into that building each morning. Every time I press that button, whether it's green or red, I am voting on behalf of over 50,000 people in the 34th Assembly District. And that is something you don't take lightly," says Rep. Swearingen.
Swearingen will continue district dialogues on Monday. He'll be in Florence, Rhinelander and Crandon.
Florence, May 20th 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Maxsells Restaurant Inn & Pub, 209 Central Ave, (US Highway 2)
Crandon, May 20th 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Forest County Courthouse, Board Room
MADISON - A bill that would allow Wisconsin schools to extend school days and shorten school years to save money is up for a vote in the Senate this week.
The bill would get rid of the requirement that schools teach for 180 days or lose state funding. Schools are still required to teach the same number of hours under the bill.
Another change under the law allows the state Department of Public Instruction to fund remedial courses and interim school sessions. The package is being viewed as a cost saving measure for districts that have seen state funding decrease in recent years.
Three Democrats joined the bill's Republican sponsors, and DPI and other education groups have voiced strong support for the proposal.
TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk School District will need to make big budget cuts in the next year. The district will need to cut more than $500,000. Rising transportation costs along with declining enrollments challenge many Northwoods School Districts.
“We have a lot of issues in Northern Wisconsin that many districts in the state of Wisconsin don't have,” says Cheryl Baker, Tomahawk School District Superintendent. “For instance in the Tomahawk School District there's about 425 and I'm rounding that off, square miles of terrain that has to be covered everyday two times a day to pick kids up, to bring them to school, and to take them home.”
“That cost is our cost,” says Baker.
The school district does not plan to cut any electives. Instead they are moving from an 8 to a 7 period day.
“We're moving from an 8 period day to a 7 period day purely for economic reasons,” says Baker. “In other words had we not gone to the 7 period day for next year we would have had to of cut entire classes, electives, and or start cutting down teachers full time positions.”
The school district will also need to cut its full time social worker.
Rhinelander intersection could get a permanent stop sign
RHINELANDER - Drivers might need to get used to a stop sign at one intersection in Rhinelander.
The City Council held a public hearing to decide if the temporary stop sign on Davenport and Sutliff should stay.
The stop sign was put up at the three-way intersection during a construction project last summer.
"We put up a temporary stop sign because we had the closure on Kemp, and we sent all the traffic this way," says Rhinelander City Administrator Blaine Oborn. "Once we had the stop sign up, a lot of people in the community started voicing support for keeping it."
Members of the community voiced their support for or against the permanent stop sign at the public hearing.
"People who live on the west side over here go straight through, it slows them down a little bit by having to do a stop sign," says Oborn. "The people on Sutliff that have to make a left or right turn, they really favor the three-way stop sign here because it makes it a lot safer for them."
The permanent signs could be in place in the next couple of weeks if the council approves the move.
Snow on an overhang causes damage to downtown building
RHINELANDER - Warm temperatures and lingering snow on roofs doesn't make for a good combination.
Around 3 p.m. Monday, the weight of the snow on the roof of the building next to the Elbo Room in Rhinelander caused major damage to the building.
The awning to the building fell down onto the Brown Street sidewalk.
Fire leaders say it's important to remember to how dangerous heavy snowfall left on roofs can be this time of year.
“Well with this heavy snowfall this winter there's a lot of snow load with warm weather today the snow melting it created a lot of weight and it can damage structures with all the weight from the snow,” says Josh Schmitz, Rhinelander Fire Deptartment Deputy Chief.
No one was injured in the collapse. The fire department is not sure when cleanup will begin.
------------------------ An earlier version of this story indicated that the facade of the Elbo Room awning had fallen. That was incorrect. It was the building next to the Elbo Room. That has been corrected in the story above.
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