NEWS STORIES

Rural Schools Task Force holds first public hearingSubmitted: 10/23/2013

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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.

Story By: Lex Gray

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 IN OTHER NEWS
First indoor Easter egg huntSubmitted: 04/20/2014

MANITOWISH WATERS - Most Easter egg hunts take place outside.

But with the recent snow fall, some were in danger of being canceled.

One Northwoods camp found an alternative to keep the festivities going.

Camp Jorn YMCA in Manitowish Waters hosted their first Easter Egg Hunt.

More than 30 kids ran around inside of the camp.

Camp Jorn daycamp director says they got the idea from Boulder Junction's Easter Egg Hunt.

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Wisconsin DNR assessing winter deer killSubmitted: 04/20/2014

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Department of Natural Resources staffers are looking for 10 carcasses in every county so they can check a number of biological signs, such as fat stores and pregnancy.

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Celebrating Easter Sunday traditionally Submitted: 04/20/2014

RHINELANDER - People celebrate Easter Sunday in different forms of fashion.

Some might have Easter breakfast or have their own Easter Egg Hunt.

Others might take a traditional route and head to church.

Newswatch 12ís Shardaa Gray found out how one church celebrates Easter Sunday.

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Police investigate threatening letter Submitted: 04/19/2014

STOUGHTON - Police in Stoughton are investigating a threatening letter that was sent to a black teenager, with a photo that depicted him as the victim of a lynching.

The letter had a Madison postmark but no return address. The family told the newspaper it contained a photo showing two men hanging from a tree, with a mob watching. A picture of the 18-year-old was superimposed onto one of the men.

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34 Acres burned in Township of Cary Submitted: 04/19/2014

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WOOD COUNTY - Pittsville fire fighters put out a field fire in the Township of Cary Saturday.

It burned more than 34 acres.

Pittsville Fire chief says it happened around 1:55 Saturday afternoon.

Rock and Vesper fire departments also helped put the fire out.

The DNR also helped by using a patrol plane to spot the fire.

The chief says it started after debris traveled from a burn barrel.

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Police rescued 22 animals from home Submitted: 04/19/2014

OSHKOSH - A Winnebago County woman has been arrested after authorities found nearly two dozen animals living in deplorable conditions in the Town of Clayton.

WGBA-TV reports that since Thursday, authorities have rescued 17 horses and five dogs from the home. Winnebago sheriff's detective Chris Braman says they did not look healthy.

Another three horses were found dead.

Cattle Rescue Inc. will be caring for the surviving horses. Director Bill Blemke says they are malnourished.

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Easter weekend brings in more businessSubmitted: 04/19/2014

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MINOCQUA - Easter weekend normally brings in a lot of tourist.

For business owners, that means an increase in sales.

The Pine Cone Boutique in Minocqua says they've seen an increase in customers.

They're right off Highway 51 North, right next to McDonald's.

One of the sales associates just started working there.

But she could tell that business picked up quickly.

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