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Iron mine could help rail service push in NorthwoodsSubmitted: 11/22/2013

Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - A group representing more than a dozen northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan counties would love to see increased rail service in their areas.

The Northwoods Rail Transit Commission believes an iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills would dramatically help their efforts.

The Commission formed last year to push for better freight rail service in the North.

Service by rail companies has slowed or stopped in many areas of the Northwoods.

Rail companies often say there's not enough freight to make service profitable for them.

An operating iron ore mine would increase freight traffic heavily.

"You can see what happened with frac sand mining in the Chippewa (Falls) area. If that mine becomes operational and starts shipping ore, a lot of that could come east toward the port in Escanaba. That will help give reason and volume to reopen that Highway 8 line that we're talking about," says Northwoods Rail Transit Commission Chair Wendy Gehlhoff at a meeting of the Commission Friday in Rhinelander.

Most of the rail line that hugs Highway 8 from Ladysmith to Pembine currently sits unused.

The Canadian National railway shut down service, saying it wasn't profitable.

The director of Michigan Tech University's Rail Transportation Program addressed the Commission Friday.

He stressed that for a rail company to operate, it needs to see a way to make money on carrying freight in a certain area.

"If we have high volumes, low value, long distance - if you don't look at rail or intermodal, you're absolutely nuts. It has to be in the equation, or you're not going to be able to compete with the other regions of this nation or other nations," said Dr. Pasi Lautala.

The Commission's next task is to get better information from companies on how they would use rail service, if it was available.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 01/19/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The T.B. Scott Library in Merrill will be constructing solar panels this spring. We'll tell you about the fundraising efforts and the plans for the panels.

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

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VILAS COUNTY - Update:

We now the names of the people involved in a deadly crash that happened in Boulder Junction on Tuesday.

The crash happened at the intersection of Highway 51 and County Highway H just after 3:30 p.m.

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RHINELANDER - A Northwoods teacher is being recognized for connecting her students with the world. 

A Rhinelander High School teacher won the second annual Global Educator of the Year Award.

Linda Goldsworthy teaches social studies at Rhinelander High School. 

She is the only teacher in the state to win the award. 

Her experiences traveling as a college student to places like China and Germany inspired her to create the same opportunities for her own students.

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As a teacher Goldsworthy's goal is providing global experiences for all students. 

She believes teaching a Comparative Religions class at a public school set her apart from other applicants.

 Winning the award has helped spread an important message that Goldsworthy encourages. 

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ARBOR VITAE - People who suffer from memory loss often don't want to talk about what they're going through. But volunteers hope a new program in the Northwoods will help people reach out and get help.

The Lakeland Memory Cafe opened for the first time Thursday at Peace Lutheran Church in Arbor Vitae.

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MERRILL - The T.B. Scott Free Library first opened its doors back in the 1800s. Light bulbs were just invented ten years prior.

Now, another change will help the Merrill library go solar in the next few months.

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RHINELANDER - County jails in Wisconsin need more corrections officers. Nicolet College will start a new program to train people who want those jobs. Nicolet will hold an open house early next week to inform prospective students about the training necessary to work in corrections. The new class will take 12 weeks to complete. Graduates will be certified to work in any jail in the state. County jails, including some in the Northwoods, are taking in-state inmates from overcrowded jails. This class will make recruiting easier and quicker for busy jail administrators. Criminal Justice Specialist, Tim Gerdmann says anyone interested in starting a career in criminal justice is invited to attend the Careers in Corrections open house.

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MADISON - Wisconsin state Assembly Republicans are calling for $300 million in tax and fee increases to pay for roads while cutting at least $300 million in taxes.

Republicans released the framework of the plan on Thursday. It comes after the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said the state would be taking in $454 million more tax collections over the next three years than previously expected.

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