RHINELANDER - You may already grow your own vegetables, but people in Rhinelander could soon also raise their own chickens. The city's Protection of Persons and Property Committee met today to consider just that.
The committee heard a proposal to allow backyard chickens within the city limits. If they approve, the full city council will vote on weather to adopt the ordinance.
Rhinelander resident Jen VanOrder made the proposal. She also submitted examples of regulations that other cities use.
"It's pretty basic, common sense stuff. They have to have an adequate shelter; it has to be kept sanitary and clean. Obviously the rule is no roosters; you don't need roosters to have egg production. You are only allowed four hens and you have to get a license from the city," says VanOrder.
Fire Chief Terry Williams will work with VanOrder to fine-tune the regulations they'll propose to the city. They'll bring it back up with the PPP committee next month, and then the full council can vote.
Sue Schneider lives just outside of Rhinelander in Pine Lake. She's been raising chickens for years.
She understands concerns people might have about their neighbors keeping chickens, but says hers have never had a problem.
"They're easy to keep clean; shovel out their cook, you know, once a month and that keeps down any odor or anything like that. As far as taking care of them, that is always a possibility. They need to be watered and fed every day. But like I said, it only takes five minutes," says Schneider.
We asked our Facebook friends what they thought. There were a few people who were not crazy about the idea. They worried about cleanliness and people not taking proper care of the chickens. But most people said if their neighbors followed the rules they wouldn't mind. Some even said they thought it was a good idea.
RHINELANDER - When you’re celebrating the holidays that often means drinking.
Because of that, there are more alcohol-related accidents and deaths this time of year.
But the Oneida County Sheriff’s office wants to prevent as many as accidents as it can.
The Booze and Belts campaign runs through December 21. The campaign is part of the OWI enforcement grant the sheriff's office received in October.
Throughout the campaign, you’ll see three extra squads on patrol looking out for drunk drivers and people who are not wearing their seat belts.
Lloyd Gauthier, Oneida County Patrol lieutenant, says it's all about making the right choices after you've been drinking.
"We really want people to come and enjoy the holiday season, it's Christmas time here in the Northwoods. Whether it's a family coming to one of the resorts that we have here in the area, or just enjoying the different things that we offer," said Gauthier." "We just want people to make good decisions. And you realize that if you don't make good decision, that can affect other people."
Booze and Belts is a statewide program.
It puts more officers on the streets before the holidays.
The Department of Transportation reports that's when the most accidents happen. Lieutenant Gauthier says your choices can have a range of impact.
Gauthier thinks that's because of early celebrations like office Christmas parties and private gatherings.
"Whether it's a traffic crash where you end up killing someone because you're intoxicated, or you seriously injure somebody else, a family member, or yourself," said Gauthier. "Also driving too fast, with the winter conditions roads can change rapidly."
The Sheriff's department says more officers patrolling for OWI's will keep everyone safe.
The Department of Transportation reports most accidents happen between 7pm and 3am.
Vilas county is also participating in the Booze and Belts campaign.
RHINELANDER - Many veterans are not eligible for full dental coverage.
But a new VA healthcare program is changing that.
Veterans who don’t have dental insurance can now join a new program that will give them coverage.
The VA partnered with insurance companies MetLife and Delta Dental.
Brad Nelson is the public information officer for the VA in Iron Mountain.
"About 90 percent of our veterans who are enrolled in VA healthcare, are not eligible for VA dental care directly, like we mentioned," said Nelson. "So that's why this insurance program would be a very good option for them if they don't already have dental insurance."
The new program allow veterans can work directly with the two insurance companies for the best coverage plans.
The closest full-care VA hospital is in Iron Mountain.
The program will cut down on travel time for veterans by helping them find a dentist who will accept their new insurance plan closer to home.
"Taking control of your healthcare is actually one of the messages that the VA wants to come across to our veterans, including dental care," said Nelson. "Again, we want recognize at the VA that oral health can impact a person's overall health."
The program will get vets a reduced monthly cost for the insurance.
Coverage goes into effect January 1st.
For additional information, visit the VA Healthcare website.
ACROSS WISCONSIN - More people enrolled into Obamacare during the month of November compared to October, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Statewide, 4,426 people enrolled into the federal health program in November.
Glitches and technical issues on healthcare.gov made coverage signup difficult in its early weeks.
Fewer than 900 people in Wisconsin signed up for insurance on the federal exchange in October.
The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance says the November numbers are an improvement. But J.P. Wieske, Office of the Commissioner of Insurance public information officer, says they're still shy of expectations.
"The numbers aren't nearly enough from our standpoint, and hopefully that will improve," Wieske said.
But Wieske believes that not completely because people aren’t buying insurance.
"A lot of people took advantage of the early renewal process, either small businesses or individuals." Wieske said. "So in a lot of cases while they have the ability to certainly shop on the exchange, they've already locked in a plan for next year."
Estimates say more than 550,000 Wisconsinites were uninsured before the federal law took effect. The state hopes about half of them will get insurance through the federal exchange.
Wieske says they’ll use regional enrollment networks instead of general advertising to get the word out.
"And have people available to staff those, talk to people and to get them where they need to go." Wieske said. "This stuff, while we have simplified it as best we can, it's certainly complicated."
Website improvements have helped more people access information on rates and access to purchase coverage. Even though more people are getting through the site Wieske encourages buyers to double check their coverage.
"I can't emphasize enough that you think you have coverage, you've signed up through the exchange and you haven't received any confirmation, it's worth your time just to call the insurer that you signed up with to make sure they have your information correct," Wieske said.
According to Department of Health and Human Services statistics, 47,173 applications have been submitted. Those applications cover 85,863 Wisconsinites.
Between October and November, 5,303 Wisconsinites have successfully selected and enrolled into a marketplace plan.
MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker's administration plans to schedule round table discussions around Wisconsin for people to discuss the state's tax code and propose changes.
Walker says he wants to lower the overall tax burden every year he is in office. The round tables are to discuss the state's tax structure, not any specific proposal.
Walker and the Republican Legislature this year passed a $650 million income tax cut and a $100 million property tax reduction.
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Revenue Department Secretary Rick Chandler hosted the first tax reform round table discussion on Monday at Beloit College. Walker says more will be announced in coming weeks.
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