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NEWS STORIES

Rural Schools Task Force recommendations expected by AprilSubmitted: 03/09/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson


RHINELANDER - Superintendents at rural schools face challenges like growing poverty, declining enrollment, and high transportation costs.

The State Assembly formed the Rural Schools Task Force to find ways to help.

12 members of the State Assembly make up the task force.

They've traveled to schools around the state for the last six months.

They made two stops in the Northwoods.

The task force turned to superintendents, business leaders, and other community members to learn more about the challenges the schools and communities face.

The state did increase funding for schools in their most recent
budget.

But some rural school superintendents said the $150 per student budget increase this year wasn't enough.

They want the state's funding formula to change.

"Initially when we brought the task force together, the task force was charged to find solutions that didn't necessarily - weren't fiscal. And so what we found is these school districts are doing the best they can with the money they have. And unfortunately, a lot of these solutions will be fiscal. And so that could potentially be pointing to the next budget cycle," said Republican Rep. Rob Swearingen of Rhinelander, the Rural Schools Task Force Chair.

He says high transportation costs, poor broadband service, declining enrollment and lower teacher retention rates will most likely be addressed in the recommendations.

"The report is going to be generated hopefully here in the next week or so by legislative council. And then the task force will get a chance to look at the report and give our final recommendations to Speaker Vos."

The report is expected to come out at the end of this month or the beginning of April.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

WAUSAU - A garage fire in Wausau early this morning will likely cost about $7,200 in damage, according to Wausau Fire Battalion Chief Allan Antolik.

Antolik said it was a 12 by 20 ft detached garage on Pleasant Street.

The Wausau Fire Department responded to the call at 1:30 a.m.

The department says the cause of the fire is undetermined.

No one was hurt. 

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ST. GERMAIN - More than 11,000 people suffer from Multiple Sclerosis in Wisconsin alone.

The owners of Lynn Ann's Campground in St. Germain want to do something about that. They started the Woods and Waters Paddle last year race to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

It's an out and back kayak and stand up paddle board race.

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RHINELANDER - Pawz n' Clawz held their Second Pawzitive Outdoor Games on Saturday.

The event brings dogs and people together for some outdoor fun while helping local non-profits. The Pawzitive Outdoor Games tests a dogs skill in agility, dock diving, and speed.

TLC Training owner Carol Lofquist set up a standard course to test dog skills.

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RHINELANDER - People run for many different reasons.

On Saturday the community came together to run to remember Kory Dahlvig.

Dahlvig was a Vilas County sheriff's deputy who lost his life in the line of duty. Nicolet College started the Run to Remember three years ago in his honor.

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EAGLE RIVER - The AMSOIL Eagle River Derbytrack's first-ever ATV & UTV World Championship Derby is in full gear.

Racers say they are impressed with the first-ever event.

"There's been really no ATV races in Wisconsin and for them to have us here and do this event, it's going to be pretty cool," said professional ATV driver Cody Janssen. "I'm pretty excited to be a part of it."

The warm weather is a welcome change to racers like Jay Mittelstaedt, who are used to racing at the annual snowmobile derby in the winter.

"It's really weird because if you've been coming here for however long and it's snow and ice and cold...now the grass is green and there's piles of dirt," Mittelstaedt said. "It's a little different but it's pretty cool."

Racers of all ages and skill dashed around the track.

For many racers and fans, the derby is a family affair.

"My husband took it up when he was a kid, he's been racing for almost 20 years, and we just finally got into it these last few years and thought it would be something for the kids to get into," said parent and racer 
Michele Grant. "And I started three years ago and it's a lot of fun."

Racers want spectators to see a good show.

"That's why I hope that hill is full today and I hope people come out and appreciate how cool this is," Janssen said.

The event continues until the championships on Sunday afternoon. 

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TOMAHAWK - A Tomahawk man turns his love for logging into woodworking hobby and business.

Wesley Bushor shows and sells woodwork out of his home.

"I don't consider myself an artist. I'm just, I'm a logger who likes to glue sticks together," said Bushor.

Wesley Bushor started working on his wood pieces about 20 years ago.

"Being a logger I come across things all the time that I like in the woods, and I decided I'd start building some basic rustic furniture, and I built a bed. A few weeks later it fell apart, but I was hooked from then on," said Bushor.
 
Bushor's house is his gallery, and you can find his work in every room. The result: a whimsical home that showcases his love for his hobby and trade. He's proud of the work he's done.

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WABENO - A Goodman, Wis., man died from an ATV crash in Wabeno late Saturday morning, according to a Forest County Sheriff's Department press release. 

Forest County Sheriff's officers responded to a report of an ATV crash in Wabeno late Saturday morning. Deputies got to the scene and found just one ATV was involved in the crash.

As a result of the crash, a 23-year-old Goodman, WI, man was pronounced dead at the scene by the Forest County Medical Examiner. There were no other people involved. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is investigating the crash. 

Deputies will not release the name until the family is notified. 

We will provide more updates as they become available. 

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