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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
Possible child abuse under investigationSubmitted: 12/22/2014

IRMA - Prosecutors will consider charges against two Lincoln County men accused of duct taping a child to a door.

A Lincoln County deputy investigated the child abuse complaint in Irma this past week.

Witnesses said the child's hands and feet were bound.

The child was then duct taped to the door.

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Snowmobile safety class held this weekendSubmitted: 12/21/2014

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LAKE TOMAHAWK - Riding a snowmobile can be dangerous if you don't know the rules of the trails.

That's why some people went through a snowmobile safety course on Saturday and Sunday.

The course was held at the Sloan Community Center in Lake Tomahawk.

The New-Tom Snow Fleas and the Oneida County Sheriff's office held the course.

A recreational safety officer from the sheriff's office taught the class.

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Lincoln County Sheriff's Office finds body of missing Merrill man Submitted: 12/21/2014

LINCOLN COUNTY - The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office found the body of a missing Merrill man yesterday afternoon.

Jeffrey Maruska has been missing since early November.

The sheriff's office found his body with the help of cadaver dogs.

Maruska was found in a wooded area east of where he lived.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office is still investigating.

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People in Sugar Camp support local dog rescue organization Submitted: 12/21/2014

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SUGAR CAMP - The number of dogs euthanized a year dropped dramatically. The Humane Society of the United States estimates the number of dogs and cats euthanized decreased from 12-20 million to 3-4 million per year, but about 2.7 million healthy sheltered animals aren't adopted.

That's why people in Sugar Camp wanted to keep a rescue organization running.

"It Matters to One" saves dogs from high-kill shelters who are on the euthanasia list. One of the founders of the organization travels to California to rescue the dogs.

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Man arrested for setting fires and fleeing policeSubmitted: 12/21/2014

MARATHON COUNTY - Marathon County Sheriff's deputies think A 39-year-old Antigo man set the building he worked at on fire early this morning.

They say he then led deputies on a car chase.

A lieutenant from the Marathon County Sheriff's Department says they got a call around 8p.m. Saturday.

The call was for a domestic disturbance in Antigo.

The man then drove to Bushman Trucking southeast of Wausau.

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Santa gets extra help from volunteer fire department while delivering presentsSubmitted: 12/21/2014

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PINE LAKE - Santa normally gets help from elves to make Christmas presents for kids, but in Pine Lake he had help from a local volunteer fire department Sunday.

The Pine Lake Fire Department normally puts its sirens on in an emergency, but this time it was to help Santa bring joy to families who need it the most.

"It is really neat to see the kids when we come pulling into their driveway and they see Santa Claus getting off the fire truck with a big bag of presents. It is really neat to see their faces," said Operation Ho Ho Ho organizer Lynn Larson.

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Humane Society blames lead bullets for bald eagle deathSubmitted: 12/20/2014

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MILWAUKEE - One bald eagle has died and another is in serious condition in Wisconsin after ingesting lead from ammunition.

The Dane County Humane Society has treated two bald eagles with lead poisoning in the past two weeks. The birds likely swallowed lead while feeding on deer or other wildlife carcasses that had been shot, or by eating waterfowl that had ingested lead.

The first bald eagle survived only a day after it was brought into a Humane Society facility last week with acute lead poisoning. The Humane Society hopes a second bird found Friday will survive.

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