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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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 09/30/2014

- The Wisconsin Wetlands Association recently released a new book helping people understand how to care for and protect Wisconsin's wetlands. We visit a Northwoods wetland to find out how people can protect wetlands in our area.

- Plus, Richard Branson recently announced some of his employees at Virgin Airlines will get unlimited holiday vacation time. He's hoping that would increase productivity and keep employees at the company longer, but leaders at Nicolet Staffing in Rhinelander says that won't work here. Find out the details on why unlimited holiday vacation would only work for global companies.

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

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Update-Inmate captured after failing to return to jailSubmitted: 09/30/2014

MARATHON COUNTY - An inmate who didn't return to jail from Huber release will now get a chance to think about his mistake.

The Marathon County Sheriff's department confirms inmate Tommie Rothenberger has been captured.

He was found in Waupaca County around 5:30 last night.

Rothenberger was let out of the Marathon County Jail Friday morning to go to school at Northcentral Technical College.

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Domestic violence deaths total close to one person a week in WisconsinSubmitted: 09/30/2014

MADISON - 55 people in Wisconsin died last year from domestic violence.

The organization End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin looked at the numbers. They found the following statistics:


- About one person every week died from domestic violence in 2013. 39 of the deaths were homicide victims.

-12 abusers took their own lives.

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Put on your dancing shoes! Rhinelander is offering a ballroom dancing classSubmitted: 09/30/2014

RHINELANDER - Do you have a wedding or social event coming up... but feel like you have two left feet?
Well, there's still time to learn some fancy footwork of your own.

The Rhinelander Community Education program will be holding a ballroom class next Tuesday, October 7th. You can come alone or as a couple, but you must register beforehand. The instructor will go over the basics of swing, waltz and polka.

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Local pharmacies and clinics prep flu vaccineSubmitted: 09/29/2014

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RHINELANDER - About 62 million Americans got their flu shot as of September 19.

Health leaders believe that the flu shot is the best way to prevent getting sick this season.

Pharmacies and clinics in the Northwoods are prepared to hand out flu shots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say manufacturers believe 151-159 million doses of flu vaccine will be produced this season.

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Free internet marketing help offered to small businessesSubmitted: 09/29/2014

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ONEIDA AND VILAS COUNTIES - Small businesses can struggle to make their presence known.

Websites and social media could help them reach more people. But designing a website can be a challenge.

UW Extension will offer free internet marketing training to some Northwoods small businesses.

Small business owners and employees from Oneida, Vilas, Bayfield and Ashland counties can participate in the training.

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Learning in Retirement program offers variety of classes for retireesSubmitted: 09/29/2014

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Retiring in the Northwoods can be a great option for some people.

A local college wants to serve the community by offering classes for retirees.

Nicolet College's Learning in Retirement program offers everything from science classes to a tour of the WJFW studio.

"Learning is something, it becomes a passion to people. They've experienced it all through their lives. But it doesn't stop, we believe, at retirement," says Learning in Retirement past president Edward Lee.

Students in the Learning in Retirement program had the chance to learn more about Ojibwe culture.

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