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NEWS STORIES

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

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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
Flood Warning at Keshena may be extended againSubmitted: 12/19/2014

KESHENA - A flood warning effecting south central Menominee county could be extended again.

The warning for the Keshena area is due to run out at 10:00 p.m. Friday.

The warning will be extended if high water continues to be a problem.

The National Weather Service issued the warning after ice jams backed up water on the Wolf River.

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Wisconsin may see the fewest number of traffic deaths since World War IISubmitted: 12/19/2014

MADISON - Wisconsin may see the fewest number of traffic deaths since World War II.

Traffic fatalities continue to decline across Wisconsin.

As of Wednesday, Wisconsin Department of Transportation Data showed there have been 480 road deaths so far this year.

That's compared to 527 in 2013.

The director of the transportation department's bureau of safety hopes there will be less than 500 fatalities by the end of the year.

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Couple sues county officials for putting down donkeySubmitted: 12/19/2014

BUTTERNUT - A Wisconsin couple is suing Ashland County officials for putting down their mammoth donkey named Jethro.

The Daily Press of Ashland (http://bit.ly/1w6ElCB) reports Patricia and Dwight Westmore have filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the county unfairly seized Jethro and four horses from their property last year after a report of maltreatment. The complaint alleges Ashland County euthanized Jethro over the couple's objections. One of the four horses taken later died.

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Northwoods dance team headed to the Orange Bowl Submitted: 12/18/2014

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TOMAHAWK - The Wisconsin Badgers will head to the Outback Bowl in Florida, but there's another Wisconsin team headed to bowl game itself.

Tomahawk's high school dance team will perform during halftime of the Orange Bowl.

The team heads to Miami next week.

They want to have a perfect routine.

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2 Salvation Army red kettles stolen in HaywardSubmitted: 12/18/2014

HAYWARD - Two Salvation Army red kettles have been stolen in Hayward in recent weeks.

The Salvation Army says one of the kettles contained an estimated $400.

The most recent theft happened Wednesday at Walgreen's. Sawyer County Salvation Army director Debbie Huebner says surveillance video shows someone grabbed the kettle's stand and put the whole structure into the back of a vehicle.

Huebner says that kettle had been emptied right before the theft. But a few weeks ago, a thief cut a cable to steal a kettle from Walmart. Huebner estimated it contained $300 to $400.

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Tree of Hope helps families in MerrillSubmitted: 12/18/2014

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MERRILL - Needy families in Merrill will have a better Christmas this year.

The Merrill Fire Department is sponsoring the Tree of Hope.

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911 service restored after roughly 7-hour outageSubmitted: 12/18/2014

MADISON - Emergency 911 service has been restored to multiple southern Wisconsin counties after an outage that lasted roughly seven hours.

That service was restored at around 4 p.m. Thursday.

Frontier spokeswoman Karen Miller says the outage happened after an underground cable was inadvertently severed by a third party shortly after 9 a.m. The outage affected 911 phone service and high-speed internet access.

The issue impacted Juneau, Columbia, Adams and Marquette counties in south-central Wisconsin.

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