NORTHWOODS - Water main breaks from this harsh winter will cost Northwoods communities millions of dollars.
The U.S. Congress might want to help.
Under old rules, northern Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Weston) might have tried to get direct federal money to help pay for repairs.
He can't anymore.
Congress used to have the power to earmark money for specific projects across the country.
But that hasn't been allowed since 2010.
"If we were still earmarking in Congress, this would be one that would be considered through the earmark process. But again, it was abused at a pretty disgusting level, and that's why it's gone," Duffy said.
Lawmakers used earmarks to send money for big projects in their home state.
That could help them gain popularity and win reelection.
The practice is gone.
But Duffy might have used it for water main repair projects in Northwoods communities if it was still around.
"They're not bursting at the seams with revenue. They don't have the resources to fix, many times, very, very old infrastructure," he said.
Instead, the state may apply for federal disaster aid to help pay for the work.
FLORENCE - The Florence County Library looks much more appealing nowadays. That's thanks to thousands of dollars worth of hand-me-downs from southeastern Wisconsin.
The Milwaukee suburb of Cedarburg wanted brand new furniture and shelves for its new state-of-the-art library. Florence was pleased to take Cedarburg's unwanted shelving - and Florence got it for free.
"They provided basically all of the shelving that you see in our library for anything that's stacks, which is where the books are, on both sides of the library, along with the oak desks that you'll see in the back of the library," said Florence County Library Director Stephanie Weber.
EAGLE RIVER - If you want a new summer activity, look no further than Eagle River. A new art studio offers many different classes to kids and adults.
"We've been here for a month, but the organization has been together for about three years," said Summer Program Director Erica Bush. "We're very excited to be in our own building finally."
Classes can cost anywhere from $20 to $50. People can sign up for classes ahead of time or just walk into the center. Program directors think it's important for kids to get involved in art early on.
"It's the creativity that the kids learn about," said Bush. "Creativity can go into all different aspects—math, science—it's everywhere. So enforcing art when they're really young will really lead to a more intelligent future for these kids."
The center offers anything from painting to pottery to cooking. Kids shared why they love to take art classes. "You could just grab a piece of paper or something and then you can just doodle on it," said 4th grader Nicholas Fluegel.
"It's really calming, and there's no bad way to do art," said 6th grader Grace Florence.
FLORENCE - People in some areas of Wisconsin may take easy access to groceries for granted. People in Florence don't.
Last year, the USDA considered the Florence area a "food desert". There was no grocery store in all of Florence County, and it had been that way for seven years.
That's all changed. Pat's Foods has now been open for a year in town.
A vacant space in Florence looked like a slab of concrete with a roof a year ago. Now, Pat's Foods stays busy every day at the location. The full service grocery store supplies food and fresh produce, meats, and dairy. That convenience means people are shopping steadily at Pat's, and business is good.
LINCOLN COUNTY - A Tomahawk homeowner was able to scare off burglars back in March, even after being hit in the face with the hatchet. Now, a Merrill man will need to find $25,000 in cash to get out of jail.
28-year-old Chad Staehle was charged with four felonies for breaking into a home in Tomahawk. Police believe he and three other men broke into the home with a hatchet and crowbar.
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