EAGLE RIVER - Summer in the Northwoods for many folks means baseball, fishing, and vacation. For several, it can also mean racing.
Several days a week hundreds of area drivers racing for trophies and glory. Eagle River Speedway is one of the tracks in the Northwoods. Rhinelander's Jered Cech grew up watched his dad compete in drag racing. It motivated him to get a car and burn rubber.
"To be honest, I finally was able to get the money to race," Cech explains. "You can pay anywhere from $3500 to $35,000 for a car. This is closer to $20,000. The cost is high, but it's also cost effective."
It's not just the adults. Brian Retzlaff's son Parker also races. Cost can be an issue. But some of the lessons he's learning isn't just about racing.
"He loves it and it keeps in active," says Brian. "It keeps him from doing stuff he shouldn't be doing."
Depending on the class, these cars can go between 60 and 100 miles per hour. Joe Dufek had the chance to try one of these out on the track.
Joe didn't go very fast on the slippery track - averaging around 40 miles per hour.
The sport seems to be very strong in the Northwoods. It's thanks in part to a unique code shared by some of the drivers.
"It's the only sport I know where you might help someone, and they could turn around and beat you," says Bob Kleinschmidt of Arbor Vitae.
"It's a lot safer than people think," Retzlaff adds. "They have everything the NASCAR guys do. Hans devise. Fire suit. It's pretty safe for (his son Parker)."
Future Wisconsin Project wants to bring more workers, manufacturers to Wisconsin
RHINELANDER - The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce group held a seminar at Nicolet College in Rhinelander Tuesday, to plan how to make Wisconsin more attractive to skilled workers and manufacturing businesses.
WMC's president believes the shortage in younger people in the industry has to do with two big misconceptions about manufacturing.
"The younger kids, as do their parents, have a perception on what manufacturing looks like and it's about 40 years out of date. If you're in an advanced manufacturing facility now, it's clean, it's high-tech, the engineers and technicians are working together," said Jim Morgan."We have a perception problem. I think we still have a definition of success that's says unless you have a four-year degree, you're not successful."
Morgan says groups like WMC work to change that perception. He believes workers with a two-year degree are just as successful in the industry.
So far, WMC held seminars at nine other technical colleges. For Rhinelander, more manufacturers could mean more economic independence.
"The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce is looking to see how it can help and partner with local manufacturers to make the Rhinelander area a more favorable place for them to locate their businesses, as well as to attract and retain skilled workers to make those businesses successful," said Dana DeMet, Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce director.
Over the next six months, WMC will continue to look for ways to attract more workers and businesses to the state.
In December, it hopes to have 1000 representatives for a meeting in Milwaukee focusing on how manufacturing will benefit the state.
WMC also works with the University of Wisconsin system and the Wisconsin Technical Colleges.
MADISON - A bill that would allow Wisconsin schools to extend school days and shorten school years to save money is up for a vote in the Senate this week.
The bill would get rid of the requirement that schools teach for 180 days or lose state funding. Schools are still required to teach the same number of hours under the bill.
Another change under the law allows the state Department of Public Instruction to fund remedial courses and interim school sessions. The package is being viewed as a cost saving measure for districts that have seen state funding decrease in recent years.
Three Democrats joined the bill's Republican sponsors, and DPI and other education groups have voiced strong support for the proposal.
TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk School District will need to make big budget cuts in the next year. The district will need to cut more than $500,000. Rising transportation costs along with declining enrollments challenge many Northwoods School Districts.
“We have a lot of issues in Northern Wisconsin that many districts in the state of Wisconsin don't have,” says Cheryl Baker, Tomahawk School District Superintendent. “For instance in the Tomahawk School District there's about 425 and I'm rounding that off, square miles of terrain that has to be covered everyday two times a day to pick kids up, to bring them to school, and to take them home.”
“That cost is our cost,” says Baker.
The school district does not plan to cut any electives. Instead they are moving from an 8 to a 7 period day.
“We're moving from an 8 period day to a 7 period day purely for economic reasons,” says Baker. “In other words had we not gone to the 7 period day for next year we would have had to of cut entire classes, electives, and or start cutting down teachers full time positions.”
The school district will also need to cut its full time social worker.
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