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

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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.

Story By: Lex Gray

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Vandals, thieves sack old Sacred Heart Hospital building in TomahawkSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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TOMAHAWK - The old Sacred Heart Hospital building in Tomahawk will be knocked down soon.

Milestone Senior Living will build a new home for seniors on the site.

The old building has been vacant since 2003.

But now, the vandalism and theft in the old hospital has gotten so bad, people there call the situation "disgusting" and "disappointing".

Ernie Winker did plenty of carpentry work inside the hospital.

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Asian Lady Beetles come out after winteringSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Do bugs seem to be everywhere in your home, even though there's snow outside? One type of bug in Wisconsin spends the winter inside our houses! They look like Lady Bugs, but they are actually not native to this country.

"They're actually called a multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle. They can be anywhere from a pale yellow to a darker orange and they have black spots on them but you'll see some that don't have spots," says Kerri Ison, UW Oneida County Extension.

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Northwoods house catches fireSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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TOMAHAWK - A home in Tomahawk caught fire Thursday afternoon.

The fire happened near Lake Alice on Pine Shore Lane.

Police say an elderly couple owned the home, but we don't know if they were home at the time of the fire.

We also don't know how the fire started, but we'll give you more information on the fire when it becomes available.

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Man accused of killing blind wife because she was nagging himSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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MILWAUKEE - A 76-year-old Milwaukee County man has told investigators he shot his blind wife of 56 years because she'd been nagging him for three weeks.

Prosecutors charged Jack Lang of Oak Creek with first-degree intentional homicide Thursday.

Authorities say Lang called 911 on Wednesday to say he'd just shot his wife in the face. Police found June Lang dead near the bed.

Jack Lang told investigators she nagged him and wouldn't shut up, and even though he loved her he'd had enough. He says she criticized him for not being able to help as much with housework.

He says he got his .22 caliber gun and warned her he was holding it inches from her head but she didn't believe him.

Online court records didn't immediately list a defense attorney.

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Rhinelander food pantry volunteers Submitted: 04/17/2014

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LP conversion of sheriff's cars nears completionSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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VILAS COUNTY - As many as 20 Vilas County Sheriff's patrol cars now run on both liquid propane and gasoline.

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The department started converting the cars last November.

A company in Michigan installed 20-gallon propane tanks in the trunks of the cars.

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Record breaking snowfall knocks the power out Submitted: 04/17/2014

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RHINELANDER - Our record breaking snow storm left more than 6,000 people across the Northwoods without power.

WPS had to rely on 20 extra crews from Green Bay, Wausau and Menominee to restore power.

But getting to the outages was a challenge.

A representative for WPS says workers are expecting even more outages to be reported.

"Not all of the back roads are plowed yet and that's where a lot of outages are located," said Leah Van Zile, WPS Community Relations leader. "Throughout the day as the temperatures warm, we expect to receive additional calls due to the unloading of snow off of the tree branches."

Eagle River had one of the highest number of customers affected by the outages.

Representatives for WPS say this was one of the hardest winters they've had to deal with.

"We've had some really, really severe wind chills which has really made the temperatures below zero. Typically, only in emergencies do we work in those conditions," said Van Zile. "But pretty much any other time, whether it's a rain storm, a snow storm, a wind storm, our guys are out there working, getting that power back on."

The number of outages dropped below 4,000 since earlier today.

If you're still without power to call 1800-450-7240.

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