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More details on WPS plan to bury power linesSubmitted: 07/26/2013
Story By Lex Gray


RHINELANDER - We learned more today about Wisconsin Public Services' five-year, $220 million project.

WPS doesn't want its customers to be out of power, so it will bury more than 1,000 miles of power lines underground.

The company chose mostly rural areas, like Vilas and Oneida counties, for the project.

That's because those areas have lots of trees that can fall on power lines during storms.

In the '50s, it wouldn't be uncommon for someone in the Northwoods to rack up days without power every year.

Thanks to efforts like tree-trimming, that number is way down.

"Today, we're talking minutes per year. There are still customers in the Northwoods that are still in hours per year, significant hours," said Richard Reitz, a WPS engineer. "We're targeting those areas where we can make the biggest improvement."

In 2014, WPS will bury lines in Minocqua and Boulder Junction.

They will also work on Highway 70 east of Eagle River.

Post Lake, Elcho, and Pelican Lake are also on the list for 2014, along with sections of Highway 101 in Wabeno.

In most places, existing poles and wires will be removed. Many lines will be bored 36 inches under the ground, while ther parts of the project will be a little messier.

"Other areas, we'll have to do some backhoe work," Reitz said. "We try to avoid backhoe work because it's mroe costly and there's more clean-up involved."

WPS has already contacted property owners who will be affected by the 2014 work.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 05/26/2016

- We'll give you a Wausau chiropractor's reaction to a proposed state bill that would allow chiropractors to write prescriptions for narcotics.

- Plus, we asked Governor Scott Walker for his reaction to the transgender directive for which the Obama administration is being sued by several states including Wisconsin.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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AMHERST - The small town of Amherst recently broke ground to replace their aging dam.

The dam was built on the Tomorrow River decades ago for power to the local feed mill.

The Wisconsin DNR believes the structure does not meet it's 500 year flood criteria.

This designation gave the town residents a choice.

"The determination of the DNR that the dam had to meet the 500 year flood lead us to the idea that we had to be able to release more water. The DNR basically brought this to the forefront and the village responded then," says Amherst Village President Michael Juris

This close knit town of just over 1000 residents took the decision very seriously.

"The residents of the village really had the opportunity to speak on what they wanted the vision of their village to be for the future. Whether to maintain the dam and the pond or to take it out and rehab it," says Juris.

Residents chose to keep the dam and thus the millpond.

With the decision made, the bidding process moved quickly and work has just started.

The new improved structure will use parts of the current one.

"Basically the stop plug structure of the dam is going to remain as it is because we found that in order to meet the 500 year flood requirements of the DNR we're going to be able to use the water that flows through the generating station," states Juris.

There were many options on the table and some that were just too expensive.

"It's been our determination that to dredge the millpond would be an expense that the taxpayers of the village at this time aren't going to be able to shoulder," says Juris

Still, bracing the structure to meet the DNR's strict 500 year criteria does not come cheap.

"We spent a fair amount of time in discussion before this decision was made because this is an expensive decision for a community our size. The original estimate was around 1.2 million dollars," says Juris.

Work moves quickly in Amherst as a completion date is set for this September.

"We expect that the substantial completion will be towards the end of August and with final completion early in September," says Juris.

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THREE LAKES - You may soon be able to ride your ATV on parts of State Highway 32 in Three Lakes, if the state DOT approves the new route in the next few weeks.

The Three Lakes Nicolet ATV Club wants to connect downtown Three Lakes to the Nicolet National Forest.

To do that, it needs to open up parts of a six-mile portion of Highway 32 from Town Road X or Javen Road to Lake Julia Road.

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MADISON - Wisconsin is joining a multi-state lawsuit against the Obama administration over its directive to U.S. public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity.

The lawsuit was announced by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and filed in federal court in Texas on Wednesday.

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WAUSAU - North Central Health Care blames an "undetermined device failure" for the alarm and lock down in Wausau earlier this month.

A statement released Wednesday said the internal investigation ruled out human activation or remote activation of the emergency alarm.

Earlier this month, emergency crews locked down the hospital and surrounding area after a "Dr. Black" emergency was triggered. That alarm indicates a dangerous person with a weapon. After searching the facilities, no sign of an armed person was found anywhere in the hospital.

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ST. GERMAIN - The unofficial start to the summer season in the Northwoods will come this Memorial Day weekend.

That means our lakes will be busy and piers will be in use.

Pier of d'Nort steps up to that demand.

The idea for Pier of d'Nort came to owner Carl Surges after he installed his parents' pier.

The business started in Hartford, Wisconsin, in the mid 2000s. Then it relocated a few years later to St. Germain.

Now Pier of d'Nort is swamped with orders this time of year.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Oneida County will soon house a lot more inmates and get paid for it.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office recently signed a contract with Wisconsin to keep state prisoners in the county jail.

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