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NEWS STORIES

Rural Schools Task Force holds first public hearingSubmitted: 10/23/2013
Story By Lex Gray

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RHINELANDER - Rural schools face different challenges than schools in suburbs and cities. State legislators say they want to understand what those challenges are, and how they might help.

Local state representative Rob Swearingen chairs the Rural Schools Task Force. Eleven other representatives make up the task force.

Their goal is to create legislation that will help rural schools. Today, the task force listened to superintendents from four local districts.

Their overwhelming message: the school funding formula needs to change. Most Northwoods districts get less state aid because they have high property values.

"It doesn't take into account the ability of our taxpayers to help with the funding of schools," said Kelli Jacobi, superintendent of the School District of Rhinelander. "As our state aid goes down, our taxpayers are expected to pay more, and our taxpayers can't afford to do that."

Swearingen says he hopes house speaker Robin Vos will listen to that. But the funding formula wasn't the purpose of the task force, and it won't be the focus.

"The focus of this group is to make sure the school districts are using the money they have more effectively, so that's part of the discussion. Clearly, the state doesn't have money to just throw at the districts," Swearingen said. "But if we can transfer some of this into categorical aid, something that specifically relates to these rural school problems, maybe we can address some of those financial issues."

Categorical aid could apply to costs like transportation. Three of the four superintendents who spoke today said that would be a big help.

Their districts are geographically large, so they spend huge amounts of money getting kids to and from school. Northland Pines spends $1.3 million every year. Rhinelander spends $1.5 million.

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Police: Indiana suspect in 7 slayings hints at more killingsSubmitted: 10/20/2014

HAMMOND, IN - Police investigating the slayings of seven women whose bodies were found over the weekend in Indiana say the suspect has told them that he may have killed people going back 20 years.

Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said during a news conference Monday that the suspect, identified as Darren Vann, is being cooperative with investigators. Vann was convicted of sexual assault in Texas in 2009 and now lives in Gary.

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High school opens doors to community membersSubmitted: 10/20/2014

RHINELANDER - School districts in the Northwoods hope state legislators will change the way local public schools are funded.

Right now, the school funding formula hurts property-rich, but income-poor, districts like Rhinelander.

Rhinelander administrators warn if Madison doesn't make a funding change, they face cutting programs or asking voters for more money through a referendum.

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Two car crash sends 2 to hospitalSubmitted: 10/20/2014

WOODRUFF - A car driving the wrong way on Highway 47 west of Woodruff hit another car this morning.

An 86-year-old Lac du Flambeau man was driving south in the northbound lane.

He hit a car driven by an 87-year-old woman.

The man and his passenger, an 87-year-old woman, were taken to Howard Young Medical Center.

Their injuries aren't life threatening.

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Room tax funds marketing opportunities for events, non-profitsSubmitted: 10/20/2014

RHINELANDER - If you stay at a motel or resort, you may notice an extra tax on your bill.

A room tax is an extra tax placed on overnight stays.

Lodges and resorts in the City of Rhinelander and Town of Pelican collect room tax.

Now you may be able to get some of that money.

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Community helping pick new president for Nicolet College Submitted: 10/20/2014

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RHINELANDER - Nicolet College will need to find a new president. Taxes in the community help pay for some of the school's budget. That's why the school wants to turn to the community before filling the position.

Monday night they heard from the community at a meeting.

Some people want to make sure the candidates have good backgrounds. They also want the board to do their research, but some don't want students left out.

David Hubbard of Harshaw thought it would be a perfect opportunity to learn more about the school. However, he also wanted to make sure students could participate in the process.

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Rhinelander Winter Farmers Market to Open SaturdaySubmitted: 10/20/2014

RHINELANDER - One local group wants to make sure you can get fresh local produce even during the winter.

The Lean Coalition is partnering with the YMCA of the Northwoods for a new indoor winter farmers market. The Hodag Farmers market closed on Saturday.

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Woodruff man charged with driving drunk, stealing and damaging property at Minocqua's WalmartSubmitted: 10/20/2014

RHINELANDER - A Woodruff man faces multiple charges for allegedly driving drunk, stealing and damaging property.

The criminal complaint says police got a call last Monday.

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Security video from Walmart shows Brewster driving his car into a cart corral.

The video also shows him stumbling and knocking items from the shelf on the floor.

Brewster fought with officers when they tried to arrest him.

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