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Rhinelander looks at utility costs, considers rate changeSubmitted: 06/13/2013
Rhinelander looks at utility costs, considers rate change
Story By Kailey Burton

RHINELANDER - Big projects around town could make your utility bills go up. Rhinelander leaders are looking at current rates to see if they'll cover planned construction.

$6,000,000 is required for the Kemp street sewer project already underway. The city is also considering a new well that would cost around a million dollars.

If the study shows rates DO need to be increased, that doesn't mean bills will immediately jump.

"We have a lot of flexibility here. Fortunately these funds are very solvent, both of them. So they've got some reserves. So we may do 3% increases over a period of time," said Rhinelander City Administrator, Blaine Oborn.

Low-interest loans allow for rates to go up slowly over time. Federal grants will also help.


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EAGLE RIVER - The World Championship Snowmobile Derby kicked off in Eagle River Friday morning. 

You might think of snowmobile racing as a sport for adults, but people of all ages are competing. Kids as young as four years old came out Friday to ride their tiny sleds through the finish line. 

On Sunday, all eyes will be on the riders lining up for the world snowmobile championship race. But before those riders came into the spotlight they started as kids. 

"My first race was when I was five," said Maverick Woyke. 

At just 12 years old, Woyke has been racing for seven years. 

"We went and watched a race and he had so much fun watching he decided he wanted to start racing," said Maverick's dad Jesse Woyke. 

Maverick traveled to with his dad from Buffalo, Minnesota to race this weekend in Eagle River. He's no stranger to traveling for the sport. 

"We've been Jackson, Wyoming, Winter Park, Colorado, Deadwood, Duluth, Shakopee in Minnesota, we kind of go all over," said Jesse. 

Maverick isn't the only veteran in the field, many of the young riders have been riding almost as soon as they could walk. 

"I've done this race as long as I can remember. Probably since I was four or five," said 11-year-old Tyler Poker. 

It's a tradition to come to Eagle River at this time of year, and for a lot of these kids, it's a family tradition.

"We were eating dinner and Dad asked me if I wanted to come race, and I said yeah, and then this happened," said 11-year-old Reece Bollmann. 

They travel from all over Wisconsin and the Midwest to have fun, but also to compete. 

"I've been to this race four times now and I've won it the last three times so I'm hoping for a fourth," said 14-year-old Kyle Thome. 

It's a unique sport, and it brings something different than football or baseball. 

"[My favorite part about racing is] the jumps because it's so much air and it's just a blast," said Bollmann.
 
But of course the best part?

"Well, getting off of school," said Poker. 

Many of the kids will spend the weekend watching other riders after they finish their races. And the ultimate goal is to be right there on that Sunday championship starting lineā€¦one day. 
 
"If we could get there that'd be awesome," said Thome. 

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PHILLIPS - When students go to Phillips Elementary School, their classroom might be heated to only 60 degrees. It could also be 80 degrees.

The heating system is old enough that consistency is nearly impossible, and fixes are tough.

"We can't get parts [anymore] for a lot of the heating systems," said Principal Dave Scholz.

Underneath the school on Thursday, he pointed to the support structure.

"You can see all of the floor joists," he said. "Most of them are rotting right out. A lot of breaking off."

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RHINELANDER - These days, it can feel like physical stores get overshadowed by online shopping. But that's not completely true in Rhinelander.

A new women's clothing boutique opened today in downtown Rhinelander.

Oak Tree Boutique owner and Rhinelander native Amber Bellile remembers a time from her childhood when downtown flourished.

"Over the years once I moved away and would come back I noticed businesses were shutting down," said Bellile. 

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PRICE COUNTY - For the first time in more than three decades the Price County Circuit Court welcomed a new judge to take the bench Friday.
Family, friends and judges from all over northern Wisconsin attended the investiture ceremony for Judge Kevin Klein.

Klein grew up in Price County and practiced law for more than 36 years.
Klein had his own law practice and was the local bar President for Price County before becoming a judge.
"When you start out and you're young and eager to practice law, you're not thinking about many years later taking the bench. But in retrospect you can see how call those years fit together," said Klein. 

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WAUSAU - Police arrested a Tomahawk man and Wausau woman Thursday for going on the run with 290 pounds of marijuana, three guns, and two stun guns.

The Marathon County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol helped arrest 32-year-old Joel Helding near Osseo in western Wisconsin.

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WOODRUFF - A Northwoods fire department used some of its money gained through fundraising to help other first responders stay safe.

"For lack of a better term it works like a bomb," said Woodruff Assistant Fire Chief Victor Gee. 

The Woodruff Fire Department invested in five "X-tinguish" fire suppression tools.

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ASHLAND - The death of a teen carrying a butcher knife who was shot by an Ashland County Sheriff's Deputy led to a march, rallies, and community discussions about police relations.

Friday, a special prosecutor cleared the deputy in that shooting.

Ashland County Sheriff's Deputy Brock Mrdjenovich shot and killed Jason Pero, 14, in November.

Police believe Pero wanted to die.

In a 911 call, the teen was the one who told police someone was walking around with a knife that day. Pero described a a guy walking around outside his house with a knife. The man was wearing a purple sweatshirt. 

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