Northwoods home sales and interest ratesSubmitted: 06/20/2013
Story By Adam Fox

RHINELANDER - We can often judge how the economy is doing, by the strength of the housing market.

Things have been rough since the housing bubble burst in 2007.

Buyers and sellers are just starting to feel good again.

But how long will that feeling last?

Dave Olson's house has been for sale for a year.

He hasn't hired a broker.

But he thinks this is the summer to sell.

"You know that there are people out there buying homes, so there are more people looking than maybe what there was a year ago," Olson said.

That's optimism that homeowners in the Northwoods haven't felt lately.

Kim Brixius has been selling homes for 16 years.

This winter was her best ever.

She thinks that's because a historic opportunity is almost closed for good.

"The interest rates and the historically low values," Brixius said. "I think it's driving people to realize if they wait much longer, they're gonna miss out."

Interest rates are historically low because the Federal Reserve is buying bonds to keep them there.

But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says if the economy continues to improve, they will slowly step back.

"If the incoming data supports the view that the economy is able to sustain a reasonable cruising speed we will ease the pressure on the accelerator by gradually reducing the pace of purchases,"Bernanke said.

Brixius thinks that would bring Wisconsin home sales to a screeching halt.

"All that could put the brakes on the buyer situation, so then sellers may be waiting a lot longer than they thought,"Brixius said.

Regardless, Olson is staying positive.

"I'm very optimistic," Olson said. "I'm thinking one that the market should be getting better; it has to be getting better."

And hopefully the Northwoods won't have to experience another housing burst anytime soon.

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MINOCQUA - By the time most of us finish breakfast, we already start planning what to eat for lunch.

For some kids all around the world, that next meal sometimes never comes.

The Food for Kidz Minocqua committee will lend a helping hand to change that Saturday morning.

Lakeland Union High School's common area will transform into a full-blown assembly line.

Food for Kidz volunteers will pour and pack ingredients into plastic bags.

The goal is 175,000 packed meals.

Food for Kidz needs more volunteers by tomorrow to meet that goal.

"If you haven't experienced this, come out and try it and you'll go away with just a great feeling," said Food for Kidz co-chair John Breiten.

Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to walk in to volunteer.

The food packages will be shipped off to anywhere from Honduras to Mozambique.

Some special meals will be set aside and sent to local communities in the Northwoods.

"It's just a great, fun community event. I think the kids especially take something away that they are giving beyond themselves," said Food for Kidz sponsor and Lakeland Union High School Spanish teacher Karen Roerich.

Walk-in volunteers are welcome to attend either packing shift tomorrow morning.

The first shift is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The second shift is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

If you can't make it out to Lakeland Union High School Saturday, donations are always welcome.

Call John Breiten at 715-686-7570 for more info.

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RHINELANDER - Thanks to funds from one company, Wild Instincts in Rhinelander will get to expand its facility. The non-profit got a $4,400 Green Gift from Cellcom.

Wild Instincts was one of 22 organizations to get a 2016 Cellcom Green Gift. Cellcom gave almost $38,000 in funds out this year.

Wild Instincts has helped rehabilitate wildlife across the state since 2011. Director Mark Naniot explained that with a growing need to help animals comes a growing need for space.

The Green Gift program uses funds from Cellcom's cell phone recycling program to fund green non-profit initiatives.

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RHINELANDER - The Northwoods Land Trust helps protect about 12,000 acres of natural lands in six northern Wisconsin counties.

That amount of conservation is a big job. But the organization employs just one full-time and two part-time staff members.

The Land Trust relies on the help of about 40 volunteers to accomplish its mission, volunteers like Nancy Richmond.

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RHINELANDER - When people think first responders, cops, firefighters and EMTs usually come to mind. 

But the true first responder is often the person they'll never meet.

It's Nicole Lea's job to be at her best when you're at your worst.

"There's no other reason your calling us to say, 'Hey, hope you're having a great day.' It is their worst day when they're calling us," said Lea.

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MADISON - About 30 percent of all absentee ballots cast in Wisconsin so far come from the state's most heavily Democratic counties.

The latest data posted on the Wisconsin Elections Commission website shows 55,000 ballots cast in Milwaukee and Dane counties.

21,700 have come in from three conservative counties near Milwaukee.

Over 183,000 were cast statewide.

Republican candidates typically must do well in those Milwaukee suburban counties to counter the Democratic votes in Milwaukee and Madison.

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MADISON - Wisconsin may be the dairy state, but we've seen a decline in the number of dairy farms.

A report from the federal Agriculture Department shows that Wisconsin lost almost 400 dairy farms in the last year.

About 94-thousand dairy herds were active in the state as of October 1st.

Wisconsin Dairy Business Association President Gordon Speirs says the number of lost farms this year is low compared to previous years.

Annual losses reached as high as 1-thousand in some years.

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GREEN BAY - MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker says Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has to accept results of the election, even though Trump hasn't said whether he will if Hillary Clinton wins.

WLUK-TV reports Thursday that Walker said following an event in Green Bay that "The bottom line is whether he does or doesn't, there's going to be a new president."

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