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NEWS STORIES

Local interest in solar energy growingSubmitted: 08/19/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm


EAGLE RIVER - No matter how high energy prices get, our dependence remains the same. We see alternative energy production booming in other parts of the country, but many people feel like it's just not that feasible here.

One Northwoods couple says it is. Kevin and Marta Church own K and M Services, Inc. They've become certified to install solar panels, and decided to start with their own home.

The churchs aren't completely off the grid. That means they produce their own energy during the day, and use energy from WPS at night. But since the installation last October, the energy they buy from WPS has gone from 1,700 kilowatts per hour, to 400.

When they made the change, they found a lot of people had questions about solar energy.

"Some of the misconceptions are we don't have enough sun. We're on the same latitude line as Germany, and they're the largest solar producer in the world. It's just a matter of trees in the area," says Kevin Church.

The couples 24 panel project cost about $32,000. They hope it will have paid for itself in seven years.

But projects can be on a much smaller scale; even as small as four panels for about $1,500.

Energy companies like WPS encourage people to look into their options.

"For customers that do install solar generation or wind generation, Wisconsin Public Service does have a specific program to buy back any excess energy produced by those programs. It's called our net metering program," says Leah Van Zile, says Wisconsin Public Service.

There are other incentives too. For example, the Churchs got $1,200 from Focus on Energy for their solar panel project. They also got a 30 percent federal tax credit.

The Churchs are among only a handfull of people certified to install solar panels in far Northern Wisconsin. But they say interest is picking up.



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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 03/05/2015

- Antigo gymnastics has come a long way in two decades. The same coach has been there through the journey.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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VILAS COUNTY - Visitors to one Northwoods courthouse may notice some changes in security.

The Vilas County Courthouse will put in place new security measures starting March 16th.

The biggest change the public will notice is only one entrance will be open to the public.

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WAUSAU - When you hear the word "gang," you may think of big cities like Chicago or Milwaukee. Unlike what many believe, they may be in your own backyard.

"The prominent one, the OTB, that this male juvenile claimed to be, that one was a known gang group here in the Wausau area," said Wausau Police Officer Houa Lee. "This other gang involving white, Hispanic, or black males, that was probably a hybrid gang that just formed."

Some gangs in Wausau have been around for the past fifteen years. Last week, a middle school boy died when a 15 year old stabbed him twice in the back. Police think the stabbing is gang related.

Recently, kids as young as ten years old are getting involved in gangs. Police say their biggest problem is keeping track of them.

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MERRILL - More private schools in Northcentral Wisconsin could take part in the statewide voucher program.

Three schools in Lincoln and Marathon counties that aren't already a part of the program are applying this year.

Trinity Lutheran School in Merrill is one of those schools.

The school applied last year as well.

"Having gone through it last year I know what we're up against," says Trinity Lutheran School principal Kathy Yahr.

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EAGLE RIVER - The former Lac du Flambeau man who owned and ran an ATM business that appeared in some U.S. and Canadian casinos will serve three years in prison.

Kevin Maulson was sentenced Thursday in Vilas County Court for three felony counts of making false statement on a securities sale and theft in a business setting. This was for misleading investors about his personal finances in the early 2000s and not paying them back.

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MINOCQUA - Leaders at Minocqua Winter Park often hear from locals that they don't get the chance to visit the park. Staff members want to change that.

"We get people popping in to the chalet daily that say they've lived in the area for many, many years but haven't had a chance to come explore. We want to get rid of any excuse they have to come and explore Minocqua Winter Park," said Minocqua Winter Park Executive Director Tim Collins.

They'll host Lakeland Community Appreciation Day this Sunday.

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BAYFIELD - Wisconsin's winter wonder re-opened today after a temporary closure.

The National Park Service closed the caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Tuesday evening due to high winds.

Concerns were that wind and blowing snow could make the ice leading out to the caves unsafe.

Around 12,000 people have visited the ice caves along the south shore of Lake Superior in Northwestern Wisconsin since they opened last weekend.

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