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Legislature may see little action in 2014Submitted: 01/02/2014
Legislature may see little action in 2014
Story By Associated Press

MADISON - Disagreement between political parties bogs down the legislative process.

Now even members of the same party are having trouble argeeing on what should be done.

Republicans who control the Wisconsin state Senate and Assembly have different ideas on a number of issues facing the Legislature in 2014.

That is setting up a session that may be marked more by what doesn't get done that what does.

Caught in between the two chambers are anti-abortion bills, changes to the Common Core academic standards and proposals cracking down on drunken driving.

Lawmakers hope to get done by mid-March so they can hit the campaign trail.

So there's not a lot of time to work out their differences.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)


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MADISON - Leaders of a new bipartisan task force tackling ways to improve Wisconsin's much-maligned school funding formula are realistic about chances any changes will be made.

The panel that met for the first time Thursday is the latest in a long line of groups that have studied ways to improve the formula.

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MERRILL - For 32 years Battalion Chief Mike Drury walked into the Merrill Fire Department ready to save lives. Friday he walked out of the department for the last time to start the new phase of his life.
"It goes fast it goes really fast," said Drury.
Drury was about 18 -years -old when he walked into the Merrill Fire Department for the first time.
"When you're 18, 19,20 years old and you're looking at 50 something years old you think you're never going to get there," said Drury. 

Drury is one of 184 firefighters to ever work full time with the city of Merrill.
"As a firefighter they spend a lot of time at the fire house so they miss a lot of things," said Drury's daughter Cassi.
After 32 years of missing birthdays, holidays and family time Drury was ready for a change.
"I realized I had enough this is a young man's job," said Drury.
Friday afternoon Drury said goodbye to a room of men who merged and became family.
"Not having that is a little scary I know they'll always be our family but it's hard to leave," said Cassi.
Cassi watched her dad rush off to help his community since the day she was born.
"It's scary because you hear about the times things don't go right or the times fire fighters don't come home," said Cassi. 

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MERRILL - Taxpayers will need to decide if they want to pay more to support the Merrill Area Public Schools.

Wednesday, the school board voted in favor of a four-year referendum for $2.5 million dollars

The district faces a nearly $2 million operating deficit for next school year.

It has used savings to keep the school running for the last few years.

The priorities of the referendum will be enhancing the school's fab lab, addressing maintenance issues, and attracting and retaining high quality teachers and administration.

Wednesday the school board also reviewed budget options if the referendum does not pass.

The referendum question will be on the April ballot. 


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RHINELANDER - Golden Harvest store in Rhinelander wants you to meet its newest store greeter.

He stands far above six feet at the entrance of the store.

"[He's the] North American Big foot," said Golden Harvest employee Steve Quade.

This new store greeter has many names according to Quade.

"[The northern] big foot version is a Yeti," said Quade.

This Yeti is being sold as an abominable snowman which Quade clarifies is the same thing as a Yeti.

"The Yeti is from the Himalayan Mountains," said Quade.

But aside from being an attraction the price tag on the big guy is far from cheap at nearly $1,700.

What's more shocking is how fast someone purchased it.

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander couple thought they were empty nesters. However, an experience volunteering made them open their doors back up to kids who need a temporary home.
The Zoerb's adult children moved out years ago. But at any moment they could get a call from social services that make them bring out their parenting skills for another round.
Rick and Danielle Zoerb work together as realtors putting people in homes that are the perfect fit. However, the husband and wife know their home can be a good fit for others too.
"There's no reason for kids to have to fall through the cracks," said Dani.
Rick met a child at a mentorship program a few years ago. It was a meeting that opened a new door for him and his wife.
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RHINELANDER - It feels a little better about needing to shovel, blow and plow driveways when people know everyone else needs to, too.

Newswatch 12 found a few people around Rhinelander embracing the tasks Wednesday.

Bart Bartholomew has a motto when it comes to shoveling snow.

"Gotta get her done," said Bartholomew.

Bartholomew geared up Wednesday morning on Stevens Street in Rhinelander with not one, but two shovels.

"It usually takes 45 minutes with an average shovel, [but for] me, it only takes 25 if you have two shovels," said Bart with a laugh.

Rhinelander saw around seven inches of snow Wednesday.

The season's first big snowfall brought many people outside to scrape, shovel and blow their driveways.

"I got [a lot to] do over there," said Mathew Bozek.

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WABENO, CRANDON - Donna Ver Voort calls her mansion "the most beautiful property in Forest County."

The Wabeno home, built in 1908 by lumber baron M. J. Quinlan, is now Ver Voort's Crystal Bell Inn and Spa. Ver Voort has owned the bed and breakfast for 21 years.

"Even on the outside, it looks large, but when you come in, you are blown away," Ver Voort said of its 6,500 square feet.

Now, Ver Voort wants to show off her 27 rooms, three fireplaces, and third-floor ballroom which used to be a basketball court. For the next week, Ver Voort will give five-dollar tours of the mansion.

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