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NEWS STORIES

Teacher accused of selling pot got 'glowing recommendations' during hiring processSubmitted: 11/14/2013
Story By Lex Gray


RHINELANDER - Police searched a Rhinelander High School teacher's house because they thought he had been stealing equipment from the school.

They say that's when they found 66 marijuana plants and a sophisticated grow operation. Since we reported that story last week, people have been asking how Joshua Juergens got hired in the first place.

"We got glowing recommendations," said superintendent Kelli Jacobi. "I don't know that those were all completely honest."

Superintendent Kelli Jacobi says the district did a background check on Juergens. That check turned up a record, as does a simple online search of Wisconsin's online court records.

In 2010, Juergens was convicted of disorderly conduct. In 1997, he was convicted of marijuana possession, both misdemeanors.

"We did know that there was a drug issue, a misdemeanor, I believe he was 19," Jacobi said. "We look at patterns in behavior. If something is a recurring thing in a background check, that definitely signals a problem."

But Jacobi says she can't factor certain convictions into the hiring process.

For now, Juergens is on unpaid leave from his teaching job. He'll stay in the Oneida County Jail unless he can come up with his $2,000 bail or get into a treatment facility.

He returns to court November 21.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

MERRILL - A Rhinelander man went to the hospital after his motorcycle hit a deer near Merrill.

Lincoln County deputies tell us a call came in just before nine Wednesday night.

The caller did not have an exact location, but believed they were on State Highway 107.

A deputy found the crash site on Highway 107 near Sugar Maple Road.

The driver, a 51 year old-man from Rhinelander, suffered injuries that could be life threatening.

He's being treated at a hospital in Wausau.

The 49 year old woman riding on the back of the motorcycle was not hurt.

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MINOCQUA - Northwoods Wildlife Center will see a lot of orphaned wildlife this spring. This is the birthing season.

The center could use your help preparing for the babies.

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WISCONSIN - The bee population could be in danger. Beekeepers in the US lost more than 42% of their colonies in the past year, according to the Bee Informed Partnership. In Wisconsin, beekeepers lost even more than that.

Some beekeepers in Wisconsin lost more than 60% of their colonies over the past year. They think long Wisconsin winters could be one of the reasons why so many bees die.

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SHAWANO - A minivan hit and killed a construction worker in Shawano County Tuesday.

30-year-old Derek Stempa of Shawano had been flagging traffic.

68-year-old Dennis St. John of Hurley was driving the minivan when he struck Stempa.

The Shawano County Highway Department had been doing road work in the area.

That's on Highway 47 near the Menominee Indian Reservation.

The Wisconsin State Patrol is in charge of the investigation.

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MONTREAL, WI - Three-year-old Kolton Ouellette spends his days in a crib, a chair, or a piece of equipment that looks like it belongs in a hospital.

Kolton is not like most three-year-olds. He can't walk, he can't talk, and in fact, he can't even open his eyes fully.

Nineteen months have passed since the crime that put Kolton in this state, suffering from severe and permanent brain damage.

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RHINELANDER - Students at Rhinelander High School hoped they would be driving home in a new car Wednesday afternoon. The prize was part of the school's year-end celebration. The car was the top prize connected to the school's Positive Behavior Initiatives and Supports initiative.

This is the third year that the school district has been involved with the initiative. Throughout the year students who display good behaviors such as being on time and assisting others in the classroom can receive special green cards.

These cards are collected and are put into drawings where students can win prizes such as free pizzas from Dominos. The drawings are a weekly event but the green cards are also held over the year for an end of the year grand prize drawing.

Brittany Haakenson, an art teacher at Rhinelander High School, has been very involved with the initiative and the planning for Wednesday's assembly. She was excited for the work the initiative has been able to accomplish and for the grand prize; a new car. "It's totally random and whoever gets that special key, there is going to be six keys that won't open the car, but there will be that one winner," said Haakenson.

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WAUSAU - The future was the focus of a public forum at the UW-Extension building in Wausau on Wednesday night.

Community members gathered with workers to discuss what the group needs to do to evolve and cater to the next generation of Wisconsinites. They also needed to figure out how the group would move forward with possible budget cuts looming. Less funding for UW-Extension might end up hurting rural areas the most here in Wisconsin.

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