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Testimony at final Common Core public hearing stretches into seventh hourSubmitted: 10/30/2013
Story By Lex Gray


WAUSAU - Teachers started putting Common Core standards to work in Wisconsin classrooms three years ago.

No one really seemed to pay attention Wisconsin had adopted the standards along with 44 other states, in part to qualify for billions of dollars in federal Race to the Top grants.

But in the last few months, legislators from Wisconsin and other states started looking more closely at Common Core.

Governor Scott Walker told reporters in late September he believed Wisconsin could do better than federal Common Core standards.

Over the last few weeks, special Senate and Assembly committees have held four public hearings to decide if that's true.

The last of those four hearings happened in Wausau Wednesday, with testimony lasting more than seven hours.

The debate about Common Core, across the nation and in Wausau, has been marked by a different kind of bipartisanship it's not liberals on one side, conservatives on the other. Both sides are both for and against the standards.

Michael Petrilli is the executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

He spoke in favor of Common Core standards.

"There [are] plenty of Republicans who like the idea of higher standards and tougher accountability," Petrilli said. "From our perspective, the Common Core standards are exactly that."

Pete Biolo, a retired teacher and the vice chairman of the Oneida County Republican Party, doesn't necessarily disagree with that. He takes issue with Common Core because of federal involvement.

"It's a process or a program that has its roots at the federal level, and the federal government, in passing it, made federal monies available," Biolo said. "Any time you have federal monies available to something, you have strings attached."

Petrilli rejects that idea.

"I think the benefits of having better standards, better tests, outweigh those concerns," Petrilli said.

Biolo disagrees, and wants Wisconsin to create its own set of standards, to get the federal government out. Governor Walker has also recently said the state could do better on its own.

"If the governor can do better than these standards, I think that's great," Petrilli said. "I think what he would find is if he went through the process of recreating standards, they'd come out quite the same as the Common Core."

The Senate and Assembly's special committees are expected to make a recommendation in November about what Wisconsin should do about Common Core.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 03/23/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll take you live to Schofield and bring you the latest information on the shooting in that area Wednesday that took the life of a police officer and 3 other people and put several places in the Wausau area on lockdown.

We'll show you how the Merrill Fire Department is honoring the officer who was killed in the shooting incident, and we'll talk to the Oneida County Sheriff about how the county's Special Response Team feels about being able to assist the officers on the scene.

And today was day 9 of the trial for Kristopher Torgerson, the Wausau man who is accused of killing Stephanie Low and burying her body in Forest County. We'll bring you the details of the hearing.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - The Wednesday afternoon shootings in Schofield, Rothschild, and Weston sent several nearby police departments streaming into the area.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office Special Response Team was one of the many outside departments on scene with their armor rescue truck.

Even though the shootings took place nearly 70 miles away from Rhinelander, Sheriff Grady Hartman said their job is to serve and protect, no matter the circumstances.

"We're use to the mutual aid system as when another jurisdiction requests our help. We're able to go and assist them. And likewise if we had a similar incident we would request under mutual aid for other officers and deputies to come help us," said Hartman.

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MERRILL - You might want to grab your favorite flannel to suit up for this celebration.

Sawmill Brewing Company in Merrill will celebrate one year of beer Saturday. 

The craft brewery has 16 Wisconsin craft beers on tap: six are their own. 
 
At first, the Sawmill owners didn't know what the community would think.

"They've taken it by storm. There are so many people that are referring to this as our brewery, which is really what we wanted. We wanted to build something in Merrill that they could come to and enjoy," said owner Zach Kubichek. 
 
To celebrate its one year anniversary, there will be a special batch of "River Hog" oatmeal stout. 

Sawmill put the beer in a Northern Waters Distillery bourbon barrel for the last few months. 

"We just set it aside for a few months. And it's kind of like, 'I hope it works out.' Then all of a sudden we were kegging it, and we had to hook up a contraption like a science experiment and had to hook up a little contraption," said Kubichek, "It turned out fantastic I tried it yesterday and it will be ready to go for Saturday." 

You have one shot at tasting the special brew; there is only a half barrel for the special anniversary.

Beer doesn't take any breaks; Sawmill Brewing Company stays open seven days a week.

The one-year anniversary celebration starts at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The day will be full of live music, raffles, and of course, beer.


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MERRILL - The Merrill Fire Department changed its lights from white to blue on Thursday.

In honor of the police officer that died in Wednesday's shooting in Wausau.

Detective Jason Weiland served the Everest Metro Police Department for 15 years.

His death hit home for local men and women in uniform.

"We always talk about the active shooters and all that kind of stuff happens in a big city and it's never going to happen here. Now we have one in Wausau, we are fully prepared that at some point of time in the future it could happen in our community or our response area," said Merrill Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Drury.

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - It takes a lot of training to become a wildland firefighter, but 26 people in Lac du Flambeau are well on their way.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs- Great Lakes Agency offered a five-day course on Wildland Fire Training this week.

Many of the participants hope to make a career out of it.

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MADISON - Cheese may become Wisconsin's official dairy product.

Wisconsin lawmakers want to give cheese the honor after encouragement from some fourth-graders at Mineral Point Elementary School.

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MADISON - The head of the Wisconsin Hospital Association is urging Gov. Scott Walker to parlay his influence with the White House and Republican leaders in Congress to make significant changes to the stalled health care overhaul bill.

Hospital Association President Eric Borgerding outlined more than a dozen points of concern in a letter marked as hand-delivered to Walker on Monday.

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