Wisconsin public health rankingsSubmitted: 03/27/2014
Story By Dan McKinney

ONEIDA COUNTY - The Oneida County Public Health Department worked hard over the past year. They wanted to improve their standing against other counties in Wisconsin. Counties across the state were ranked on the annual University of Wisconsin Population Health rankings.

The rankings help counties understand how healthy residents are and how long they will live. Oneida County ranked 50th of out 72 counties this year. Last year they were ranked 57.

"We have coalitions that work really hard on areas such as alcohol abuse drug abuse," says Linda Conlon, Oneida County Public Health Director. "We have a coalition that works on chronic disease prevention so we're out there getting the message out."

Despite the jump in the rankings there's also room for improvements.

"Some of the areas that we are not succeeding in is adult smoking, we're above the state rate for the percentage of adults that smoke," says Conlon. "We've also seen an increase in adult obesity and we have seen an increase in unemployment and children in living in poverty."

Other counties in the Northwoods struggled. Langlade County was 52nd. Vilas County was 54th. Lincoln County was 58th, and Forest County was 68th.

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MERRILL - People know Helene's Hilltop Orchard in Merrill as the place to go to get your fall season fix.

The pie makers and apple peelers come in early to crank out caramel apple pies fresh throughout the day.

When people come to Helene's, they are usually greeted by the smell of the pies before they even see them.

"I love being out in the parking lot when people step out of their cars and smell the air. It doesn't smell like a lot of other farms. It's distinctly the cinnamon sugar you smell," said Helene' Hilltop Orchard baker Olivia Telschow.

Helene's is only open for six weeks from mid-September to late October; however, Telschow works alongside her mother Helene throughout the entire year.

Even in the winter, the apple orchard is checked on.

"February is pruning season. Think of me when it's minus ten and it's snowing and windy and snow drifts because I will be out there," said Telschow.

The orchard is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October 30th.

Helene's will close Sunday for the season, but pies will be available to order for Thanksgiving.

Call (715) 536-1207 for more information.

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MADISON - The state Natural Resources' board will soon vote on selling another 3,500 acres of public land.

A measure included in the state budget ordered the DNR to sell 10,000 acres by the middle of next year.

Money raised will help pay down debt in the agency's land stewardship program.

The Natural Resources board approved putting about 1,400 acres up for sale in 2014.

Another 5,700 acres went up for sale this past February.

The board should vote Wednesday in Madison on whether to put a final 93 parcels totaling just over 3,500 acres up for sale.

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MADISON - Even with higher fees, plenty of people want to camp in state parks.

Wisconsin state park use this year is on track to be higher than average, despite fee increases that were imposed to offset the withdrawal of tax support.

The number of camping registrations and nights camped in 2016 through Friday was greater than in any year since 2008 except for last year's record.

This year, there have been nearly 160,000 camping registrations and more than 386,000 nights camped for state parks, recreation areas and southern forests.

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RHINELANDER - Next Monday Northwoods youngsters will go house to house in search of Halloween candy and fun with friends.
But on Tuesday some Rhinelander high school students went going door-to-door a few days early.

Students from a business club took to the street to collect donations for their first ever 'Trick or Can' food drive.

Some students hope going into the community will help the event be successful.

"The idea is that it's no easier to give back in a food drive mentality than if we came to your house and asked to it. So in the theme of Halloween we took trick or can, and instead of asking for candy we are asking for cans in order to give back to our community," Rhinelander High School Senior Elliot Fehlen.

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WAUSAU - It can take a big name and a well-known face to get people excited about signing up for a group.  As part of its revitalization drive, Wausau's American Legion Post 10 got a visit from a name you might not recognize, but one that veterans groups know is an honor to host.

American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt stopped by the Wausau post Tuesday morning. It was the first visit by a national commander ever at Wausau's Post 10.

Schmidt says the same issues veterans faced when the Legion formed in 1919 -- healthcare, jobs, and education -- still exist in 2016.

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RHINELANDER - New moms know how difficult it can be to adjust to life with a newborn baby.

A group in the Northwoods wants to stress the importance of understanding baby behavior and making society comfortable with breastfeeding.

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STEVENS POINT - On Tuesday at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Chelsea Clinton, daughter of 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, spoke to more than 300 people. 

During her speech she emphasized the need to end the negativity that was brought by Republican nominee Donald Trump this election calling it the "Trump Effect." 

"I never thought I would see in my lifetime the almost normalization of hate speech from a major presidential candidate," said Clinton.

For some who attended the event, seeing Clinton was more than just a reminder to get out and vote; it was a reminder of where Clinton started.

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