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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
Police prepare for 4th of JulySubmitted: 07/03/2015

MINOCQUA - You can find tourists all over the Northwoods already for the holiday weekend.

That means area police departments are busy making sure everyone stays safe.

The Minocqua Police Department has all of their officers working extended hours on July 4th, but the police chief says they worry more about safety than law enforcement.

"[The] 4th of July is more family-oriented," says Minocqua Chief of Police Dave Jaeger. "You have a lot of families down there with their children, so we're down there to make sure that it's a safe environment."

Places like Minocqua will be packed with people this weekend, so police just want to make sure holiday events go on safely.

"We mainly focus on, during the parade, we do the re-route, and we have officers on the parade route in case there's any type of issues or accidents that may occur, that we have to respond to," says Jaeger.

The Minocqua Police Department also works with the chamber of commerce and public works to make sure everything goes smoothly.

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NORTHWOODS - Many people travel to the Northwoods for the fourth of July. 

That means there can be a lot of extra traffic.

Wisconsin State Patrol makes sure it's ready for the holiday.

It has more people staffed on busy holiday weekends.

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MADISON - Wisconsin could force drunk drivers to pay in more money to support SafeRide Home programs in the state.

Earlier this week, we told you the state was planning to kick in less money to support county SafeRide Home programs. The program offers free taxi rides home from bars.

A proposal passed by a Capitol committee on Thursday night could help SafeRide Home.

It would add a $50 surcharge to some OWI offenses. That money would go back into SafeRide Home programs.

The proposal is part of the state budget, which has yet to become law.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - A cracked lime kiln has caused a fire that damaged the Verso paper mill in Wisconsin Rapids.

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PARK FALLS - Kelly Meredith's paint-splattered uniform and face tell us what she does.  But the Butternut muralist prefers to think of her job as a historian.

"Those stories need to go out to the rest of us," Meredith said.

Brush stroke by brush stroke, Meredith went to work this spring, painting the uniforms and faces of Northwoods World War II veterans and bringing their stories back to life.

"They weren't gods and heroes," Meredith said. "They're ordinary people who overcame their fear and the courage and dignity to basically save the world."

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ANTIGO - Low temperatures this time of year can cause problems for some farmers. One Northwoods strawberry farm had to close down for a few hours earlier this week because the berries aren't ripening as fast as normal.

"The cold days this week made the berries ripen much slower than normal," says Andy Merry, owner of Merry's Berries.

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RHINELANDER - A plea deal may be close for one of the suspects in an Oneida County murder.

33 year old Latoya Wolf faces a charge of being a party to a murder in Rhinelander. The murder happened in 2003.

The Tomahawk woman is the niece of Kenneth Wells, the man who was killed. Police found Wells dead in the Wisconsin River in 2003.

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