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.
VILAS COUNTY - Earlier this month, legislators put a proposal into the state budget that would take away a county's ability to make its own shoreline zoning regulations. Here in the Northwoods, two counties have come out against that proposal.
If the state budget went through as it's written right now, individual counties and lake associations could lose their power to set zoning regulations. That's a big issue for many in the Northwoods. Vilas County alone has 1,300 lakes. The proposal has caused great concerns.
"The concern was that the proposal had the potential for doing great damage to the environment, had the potential for causing a severe problem as far as assessment procedures, and generally was opposed by the citizens-the residents-of this county," said Chuck Hayes, a Vilas County supervisor.
Vilas and Oneida counties both held board meetings last week. Both counties voted to ask for removal of zoning changes from the budget. They argue the issue of shoreline zoning was never given any time to be discussed.
"At the very least, I think the public should have had a chance to weigh in on this issue that affects the environment," said Hayes. "The counties, the municipalities and individual residents, their opinion wasn't sought on this. It was simply put in."
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander group wants to protect an endangered butterfly. The Monarch March works to save the beautiful monarch butterflies.
The butterfly is in danger because people remove milkweed from their yards. Milkweed is also removed from public ground spaces as well.
Monarchs need milkweed for food and a place to lay their eggs.
"That's the problem with the monarch; it only survives on milkweed," said Paula Larson, founder of Monarch March. "So every time you cut down milkweed, every time the highway mows down all the milkweed on the sides of the roads, they are killing hundreds of caterpillars."
A major part of the work done by Monarch March is to collect eggs and raise them until they become butterflies. The process takes about four to five weeks.
Leaders of the group believe everyone can do simple things to protect the butterflies.
"Do not cut down milkweed; plant milkweed. It's really good for gardens to become a butterfly habitat," said Larson.
The new butterflies should hatch in about two weeks. An exhibit with the caterpillars can be seen at Curran Professional Park in Rhinelander.
For more information, check out Monarch March on Facebook.
COLUMBUS, OH - A 4-year-old girl who was shot in the leg by an Ohio policeman firing at a dog is recovering after surgery as her family questions how the officer responded.
Columbus police say Ava Ellis was hit accidentally June 19 when an officer fired at a charging dog at a home in suburban Whitehall. Police say another relative had flagged down the officer for help after Ava's mother cut herself on glass.
FERGUSON, MO - A Justice Department report summary has found across-the-board flaws in police's response last summer to the protests in Ferguson, including antagonizing crowds and violating free-speech rights.
The Associated Press obtained the summary, which cites "vague and arbitrary" orders to keep protesters moving that violated their rights of assembly and free speech.
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