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NEWS STORIES

Rural Schools Task Force recommendations expected by AprilSubmitted: 03/09/2014

Lauren Stephenson
5 p.m. Anchor/Reporter
lstephenson@wjfw.com

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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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Fatal bike-truck crash in Oneida County UpdateSubmitted: 10/23/2014

ONEIDA COUNTY - A truck and a bicyclist collided along US 51 heading southbound near Leary Road early Thursday morning.

We now know the bicyclist has died.

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New York leaders: Doctor has Ebola, 1st in citySubmitted: 10/23/2014

NEW YORK - A law enforcement official and a New York City official say a doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus.

It's the first confirmed case in the city.

The officials received notification of preliminary test results and told The Associated Press but weren't authorized to discuss the case publicly before a Thursday night news conference.

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International group considers Wisconsin one of four most improved states in energy efficiency Submitted: 10/23/2014

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WISCONSIN - An international energy efficiency group ranked Wisconsin in the top four most improved states in the U.S. when it comes to energy efficiency.

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is an international non-profit. The group pushes for better energy efficiency around the world.

They ranked Wisconsin 23rd in the U.S. last year, but Wisconsin made their most improved list for 2014.

"A shift in efficiency administrators had caused a temporary drop in saving," ACEEE State Policy Research Analyst Annie Gilleo said. "We are seeing that Wisconsin is once again realizing consistent levels of electricity and natural gas savings."

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Appeals court rejects John Doe rehearing requestSubmitted: 10/23/2014

MADISON - A federal appeals court has unanimously rejected a conservative group's request to reconsider a ruling last month tossing a lawsuit challenging an investigation into possible illegal campaign coordination.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected the request from Wisconsin Club for Growth to rehear the case after a three-judge panel last month sided with investigators.

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Grant to help improve Vilas trails appSubmitted: 10/23/2014

VILAS COUNTY - Tourism leaders hope updates to a smartphone app will bring in an extra $350,000 to Vilas County.

The app will now offer GPS services to the county's non-motorized trail app.

Vilas County Tourism & Publicity will pay for it with a nearly $40,000 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant from the state department of tourism.

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In-person absentee voting underwaySubmitted: 10/23/2014

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STATEWIDE - You can vote in the upcoming election before November 4th. In-person absentee voting started Monday.

Northwoods clerks say the process has been going smoothly.

Voters don't need a photo ID for this election because the US Supreme Court blocked a law requiring one for this election. But some people have still been confused about whether they need a photo ID.

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Partial solar eclipseSubmitted: 10/23/2014

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NORTHWOODS - Most of Northern Wisconsin was too cloudy to make out the partial solar eclipse Thursday evening. A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the earth. The last partial solar eclipse that could be seen in Northern Wisconsin was more than 10 years ago. Calculations for when and where solar eclipses occur are quite precise, according to local astronomer and planetarium owner Frank Kovac.

"The solar system is like a clock," explained Kovac. "We can predict eclipses many years out and it is very geometric, it's very mathematical."

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