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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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 IN OTHER NEWS
Dog kills 7-year-old boy in eastern WisconsinSubmitted: 10/25/2014

TOWN OF HUSTISFORD - A 7-year-old boy has died after being severely bitten by a dog in Dodge County of eastern Wisconsin.

The Dodge County Sheriff's Office says in a statement that the incident was reported just before 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Town of Hustisford.

Lt. Brian Loos says that a 911 caller said the boy was bleeding profusely. He says dispatchers began to talk the mother through CPR while numerous agencies responded. But the child died at the scene despite extensive lifesaving efforts.

The statement says names, addresses and additional information about the nature of the incident and the dog won't be released for now out of respect to the family.

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Wisconsin insurers signing up same-sex couplesSubmitted: 10/25/2014

MILWAUKEE - Several Wisconsin insurance companies are holding special sign-ups so same-sex couples can add spouses to their health plans.

The special enrollment period is needed because gays and lesbians who got married this summer were unable to add spouses to their coverage amid the uncertainty surrounding the legal status of their marriages.

People generally can make changes to a health plan during the year only after a ``life-changing'' event, such as a marriage, divorce, or birth or adoption of a child.

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Suspect sought in 2 stabbings near UW-OshkoshSubmitted: 10/25/2014

OSHKOSH - Police are seeking a suspect in the stabbings of two students near the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Authorities say the stabbings happened around 11 p.m. Friday in a neighborhood east of campus. A police statement says the suspect confronted the first victim and took his cellphone, then stabbed him in the ensuing struggle.

Police say the second victim chased the suspect, another struggle ensued, and he was also stabbed.

A university statement says both students were seriously injured but are recuperating at an area hospital.

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Nearly a century later, Goodman's Draxler honored with Purple HeartSubmitted: 10/24/2014

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GOODMAN - John Draxler deserves the respect and honor from the people of his hometown of Goodman, and all of northern Wisconsin.

He's always had it.

But on Friday, 96 years after his combat injuries during World War I, and 40 years after his death, it became tangible.

Draxler's family was presented with a Purple Heart.

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Hulsey launches write-in candidacy for governorSubmitted: 10/24/2014

MADISON - Just 12 days before the election, state Representative Brett Hulsey says he is running for governor as an independent write-in candidate.

Hulsey lost the Democratic primary to Mary Burke, earning 16 percent of the vote.

Hulsey announced Thursday that he was mounting a last-minute write-in campaign, but if it appears the effort is helping Republican Governor Scott Walker, he will stop.

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Vilas Food Pantry needs helpSubmitted: 10/24/2014

EAGLE RIVER - A Northwoods food pantry could struggle to put food on their shelves this fall. Vilas Food Pantry volunteers need more donations and money to feed people in need, this includes more than 250 local families. This is the first time they've needed to ask the public for help in more than ten years.

"People get laid-off and they have needs," said Vilas Food Pantry Director Richard Short. "That's what we're here for, we want to make sure everyone knows that if they have a need, you're welcome to come."

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Wisconsin court won't reconsider voter ID caseSubmitted: 10/24/2014

MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court has refused to reconsider whether the state's voter photo identification law is unconstitutional.

Republicans passed the law in 2011. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the immigrant group Voces de la Frontera as well as the League of Women Voters challenged the mandate in separate lawsuits. The state Supreme Court concluded in July that the law is constitutional in both cases.

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