Congressman learns about, encourages discussion on hunger and homelessnessSubmitted: 12/18/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer

WAUSAU - Northern Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy didn't know just how much hunger and homelessness affects our communities.

A group of local pastors tuned him in to the problem.

"It surprised me. I think a lot of people aren't aware of how bad this problem is, and I thought I could be part of a growing solution to address those issues of hunger and homelessness in Wisconsin, especially right here in central Wisconsin," Duffy said.

Duffy hosted Wednesday's Hunger and Homelessness Summit in Wausau.

He says nearly 14 percent of people in central and northern Wisconsin faced food hardships in 2011 and 2012.

Thousands spent time in homeless shelters.

But how these issues look in our part of the state is much different than in other areas.

"I think when you think of homelessness, you often times think of urban centers. But the fact is, we have it right here. One of the issues is it's harder to address in smaller communities," Duffy said.

More than 125 people came together Wednesday to give their input and learn about hunger and homelessness issues.

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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

Volunteers at Pointe Basse recreated a historical camp portraying lives of people from the 1700s and early 1800s.

Volunteers from all across the U.S. all had a piece of history to share.

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RHINELANDER - Harvest Hoedown started Saturday at noon at the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander.

The event had a hay maze, horse drawn carriage rides, food, and live music all afternoon.

"I think it's going great. We got a little sunshine right now. We got probably a couple hundred people here. People are buying food, spending money. It's what we're after," said Rhinelander Area Food Pantry Executive Director Guy Hanson.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

"People come to this whether there's good weather of bad weather," said Executive Director of the Eagle River Chamber Kim Emerson. "And with this year being great weather, we had above-average crowds and it was just spectacular. We're so happy about that."

By 3 p.m. Saturday, the World's Largest Cranberry Cheesecake had already been devoured. Sales of slices go towards the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin. 

Organizers said they also almost sold out of cranberries, but they said they would still have more to sell on Sunday. 

There were also dozens of craft vendors, food and wine and cranberry marsh tours.

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TOWN OF NEWBOLD - Dreams of a world-class disc golf course and recreation area could soon become reality.  On September 26, people in the Town of Newbold voted to buy about 18 acres of land currently owned by Oneida County.

The land, about a half mile off Highway 47 along Ole Lake Road, was the site of an old landfill that the DNR closed in July 1988. The site has been empty ever since.

Buying the land would essentially double the space Newbold already owns for its planned recreation area.

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WOOD COUNTY - Two people who stole a UTV led police on a wild chase early Friday morning. Friday night, those suspects were still on the run.

The Wood County Sheriff's Office tells us a sporting goods store owner walked in as the burglary was happening, just before 7 a.m. The suspects took off in a red Dodge pickup truck pulling a trailer with the stolen UTV. They crashed through several gates to get out.

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BOULDER JUNCTION - Lakes bring a lot of visitors here to the Northwoods, but they also bring scientists.

The UW Trout Lake Station in Boulder Junction just wrapped up its summer research season.

The UW Trout Lake Station is a research station for limnology students at UW Madison. It's mostly graduate students and faculty from Madison's Center for limnology.

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MERRILL - One Northwoods farm wants to give all families the full Fall experience.

Grampa's Farm in Merrill has been a popular fall destination in Wisconsin since 2010.

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