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NEWS STORIES

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

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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
Minocqua Chamber of Commerce members break ground for expansion Submitted: 10/31/2014

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MINOCQUA - Minocqua gets many tourists. An expansion to the town's chamber of commerce might bring and keep more people in the area.

Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce board members broke ground outside of the chamber Friday. They'll be adding an extra 900 square feet of office space.

"It'll have a small kitchenette for gatherings and then a really large open concept room with all concealing. It'll have a new foyer for guest," said Minocqua Building Committee chairman, Mike Brighum." Then we'll also be remodeling about 150 square feet of the existing building to make it more useable for the staff for efficiencies."

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School District of Rhinelander passes 2014-15 budget; sees increase in enrollmentSubmitted: 10/31/2014

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RHINELANDER - The School District of Rhinelander will get a little bit more funding from property taxes this year. Rhinelander passed a referendum in 2013.

The district gets 4 million dollars per year through 2016.

On Monday the district approved the tax rate and mill levy for the year. Taxpayers will pay $10.99 per thousand dollars of property values.

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100 Yards of Halloween DecorationsSubmitted: 10/31/2014

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RHINELANDER - A lot of people in the Northwoods will put out decorations for Halloween. But one Rhinelander woman and her daughter have gone above and beyond. They've grown their display for the past 10 years to extend between their houses and covering more than 100 yards.

"We had four boys and we wanted a girl and she was born on Halloween, so my husband said, 'Look, we finally got our witch!'" said Linda Klaver.

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Milwaukee police vote 'no confidence' in chiefSubmitted: 10/31/2014

MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee police have taken a vote that expresses no confidence in their chief after he fired a white officer who shot and killed a black man in a downtown park.

Union president Mike Crivello announced Friday that about 99 percent of the votes expressed no confidence in Chief Edward Flynn.

He did not say how many of the union's 1,600 officers voted, only that it was a majority.

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Drivers surprised by icy roadsSubmitted: 10/31/2014

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RHINELANDER - Drivers got an icy surprise as they hit the road this morning.

People needed to show a little caution as they got used to driving on snow and ice again.

Some accidents tied up traffic for a time. In Wausau, one lane of Highway 29 was shut down near Highway 51.

An accident caused the problem shortly after 4:00 a.m. The road was fully open again around 6:00 a.m..

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Sex offenders must follow strict rules on HalloweenSubmitted: 10/31/2014

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RHINELANDER - Sex offenders on probation or parole need to follow strict rules on Halloween. It's part of the state Department of Corrections' trick-or-treat safety plan.

Sex offenders need to stay home tonight. They can't wear any costumes or have any Halloween decorations up. Their porch lights also need to be off during trick-or-treating hours.

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Hire me then fire me, Northwoods candidate for State Treasurer wants to eliminate positionSubmitted: 10/31/2014

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RHINELANDER - Hire me then fire me. That's what a Northwoods candidate for State Treasurer wants voters to do.

Jerry Shidell is a libertarian from Rhinelander. You'll find his name on the ballot for State Treasurer. He plans on getting rid of the job.

Shidell says the treasurer doesn't have many responsibilities and the position costs too much.

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