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NEWS STORIES

Group hopes tax reform helps industrySubmitted: 09/06/2013

Adam Fox
10 p.m. Anchor/Reporter
afox@wjfw.com

TOMAHAWK - A storied history of industry built the Northwoods.

But it was hit hard by a recession in 2008. Now manufacturing is starting to come back.

Factory floors are humming across the Northwoods. Loggers are cutting and managing the forests.Industry looks good.

That's because Wisconsin ranks fifth in manufacturing growth in the US since 2009, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. But Wisconsin Secretary of Revenue Rick Chandler thinks an improved tax system could help manufacturing break through.

"The feeling is that if manufacturing thrives, every other sector of the economy is going to thrive," Chandler said.

That's one reason why the state cut income tax by 650 million dollars over the next two years.

"That involves reducing individual income taxes, creating new business with tax incentives and other things that make our tax structure more competitive," Chandler said.

Chandler hopes that brings more jobs to the state. But he says people might not be qualified for the open positions. That's where Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation comes in. Executive Director Sarah Kapellusch says they bring Northwoods economic groups, trade schools and employers together.

"This is where the employers can come to the table with the technical colleges up here and create programs," Kapellusch said. "It has been very successful in the past."

But manufacturing isn't the only concern here in the Northwoods. Access to broadband is a struggle. And the group knows connectivity could improve education and jobs opportunities.

"We are all working together to get to the resolution of how we get an internet service provider up here to actually get all of us connected," Kapellusch said.

A connection the Northwoods needs to catch up with the rest of the state economically.

"We're definitely heading in the right direction and we're doing everything possible to pick up the pace," Chandler said.

Everything possible is what Wisconsin might need.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

MERRILL - The school bells rang Tuesday morning for students across Wisconsin.

Another school year has begun with kids looking forward to a new year.

It also means that drivers should be on the lookout around schools.

In Merrill, police keep a close watch around school zones the first few weeks of class.

Speed limits drop dramatically as drivers enter school zones.

Merrill Police Chief Ken Neff says it's important to be especially observant this time of year.

"Especially the first week or two of school because kids are excited, and maybe not so excited, about getting back to school," Neff said. "They're thinking about their friends and maybe not paying attention to traffic."

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NORTHWOODS - Children went back to school across the Northwoods Tuesday. That's why it's important to make sure you're prepared for anything.

Emergency workers say it's important to have a plan in place for all possible emergency situations. That plan should include emergency contacts, safe meeting locations, and emergency kits in homes and cars. Officials say taking time to plan and practice is crucial.

"Look at things before it happens," says Dawn Robinson, Oneida County Emergency Management Program Assistant. "Make sure your family, your loved ones, your neighbors, make sure everyone has a plan and practice those plans. That way when something does happen, it becomes more, that you know what to do, so be prepared as much as possible, and practice."

Part of being prepared is communication and knowing who to contact. Officials encourage parents to make sure that schools have up-to-date emergency contact information, especially for small children.

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HAZELHURST - You won't find any alligator-filled moats at an upcoming medieval festival in Hazelhurst. But you will get the chance to step back in time during the Northwoods Medieval Faire at Tommy O's Playhouse next weekend.

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RHINELANDER - September might not seem like the best time to plan your garden, but taking steps now can mean better results later.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Drivers in Woodruff and Minocqua might want to avoid a popular shortcut soon. A several month long road project will start next week on County Highway J between Highways 51 and 47.

Last year, the intersection of County Highway J and Highway 51 was completely redone.

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RHINELANDER - Anxious and excited kids will find more creative ways to learn this year at Crescent Elementary School in Rhinelander.

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MINOCQUA - Many kids like to take art classes over the summer. The Campanile Center for the Arts in Minocqua has one project for kids that is made out of all-natural materials.

The project is called Uprooted. It started in July and was supposed to end in August, but the kids had so much fun working on the art project that it was extended until the fall.

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