RHINELANDER - Budgets will go in front of county boards across the Northwoods over the next few weeks.
In Oneida County, the budget will reflect significant savings.
The county saved more than $550,000 last year because of changes to collective bargaining and retirement contributions.
Human Resources director Lisa Charbarneau says some of the changes to health care plans were minor - but the changes resulted in big savings.
"We increased the employees contribution level," Charbarneau said.
"The employees are paying an additional 3 percent towards that premium. We have seen good renewal numbers for 2013 and with some negotiating with our health insurance company and changes to deductibles we're hoping to hold that increase down to less than six percent."
She also said it gives local government a chance to look at multiple options.
"It does give us some more flexibility in order to look at those plan designs and that we can change them more often," Charbarneau said.
"With the contracts in place as they were, we used to have to bargain those changes with each individual union with the county. With if there's six, you could have six different health plans."
The county has also completed work on next year's budget.
It's now heading to the county board for possible amendments.
Charbarneau says this year's budget is even more promising.
"The final budget that is being submitted to the county board is actually below a zero percent tax levy increase," Charbarneau said.
"They've worked very hard to get it to that number. Certainly there can be additional amendments and changes made."
The county board will review the budget next month.
MADISON - The start of a new short-term loan program that wasn't slated to begin until July has been moved up in an effort to help businesses hurt by recent cutbacks at Oshkosh Corp.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state's chief jobs agency, voted this week to start the pilot program earlier. It will provide loans or loan guarantees of up to $250,000 to companies for projects or expenses that may not be eligible for traditional financing.
The board says it was starting the program earlier in light of news that Oshkosh was cutting 760 jobs from its defense division because of budget cuts being made by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The loan program this year will only target businesses in Oshkosh Corp.'s supply chain
RHINELANDER - There was no severe weather Thursday, but sirens across the Northwoods were blaring at about 1:45 pm on Thursday.
That's because the National Weather Service held a statewide tornado drill.
It was part of their severe weather awareness week, and Oneida County took part in the drill.
"The sirens are only set off for warnings, in the city of Rhinelander, it's only going to be a Severe Thunderstorm Warning that is affecting the city area," said Oneida County Emergency Management Director Ken Kortenhof. "It's also going to be set off for a Tornado Warning affecting the area."
Dane County judge to hear Planned Parenthood lawsuit
MADISON - A Dane County judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging a 2012 law that sets out conditions for abortions.
The law requires a doctor to determine whether the woman's consent is voluntary and inform the woman of domestic abuse services if he or she suspects the woman is being coerced. The law also requires doctors to perform a physical exam before they can prescribe abortion-inducting drugs and be in the room when the drugs are given to the woman.
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in February 2013 arguing the law is unconstitutionally vague. The organization argues its unclear how doctors should determine voluntary consent and whether doctors need to be present when drugs are dispensed or administered.
Judge Richard Niess is set to hear arguments Thursday morning.
UPDATE: Police believe they made right choice in Nerf gun tickets
WAUSAU - UPDATE: 5:52pm 4/24/2014
Police believe they made the right choice handling a report of gunmen near a high school in Wausau Tuesday night.
They found out the gunmen were actually six kids playing a game with toy Nerf guns.
Police eventually ended up giving the high school seniors disorderly conduct tickets.
Some people thought the tickets were excessive, but in a press release in released Thursday by the Wausau Police Department said they "believed there was a serious, potentially life threatening situation".
Someone called the Wausau police around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.
The person said there were people pointing guns at other people in a car.
Police say they handled the situation different than a traffic stop because of the seriousness of the call.
After police got all the seniors out of the car, they saw the nerf guns.
The teens got the disorderly conduct citations because police say they caused a disruption in the neighborhood.
Leaders at Wausau West High School said in a statement that there's "potential in a game like this for negative consequences."
Some of the students have also been placed on athletic probation.
Six kids got tickets after a battle using toy Nerf guns in Wausau.
Police issued disorderly conduct citations to the high school seniors.
Some residents of Wausau called police when they saw the young people pointing a gun at a car Tuesday night.
But, it was only a toy Nerf gun that shoots foam bullets.
Wausau West High School officials have also placed some students on athletic probation.
(Copyright 2014 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Drug addicts can look nearly everywhere to get their fix, and sometimes they can get that by raiding their family's medicine cabinet.
That's why Lac du Flambeau police gave a drug presentation at an event for the elderly Thursday.
Police leaders wanted to show seniors what could happen if they didn't keep track of their medications.
"A lot of times the elderly and older population can be victims from this. As the younger children, grandchildren, things like that are you know coming in and taking their grandparents prescription drugs," says Sarah Keuer, a nurse at Peter Christensen Health Center.
ACROSS THE U.S. - A new proposal from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would expand regulation on tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, not regulated already by the agency.
The proposal, which was released Thursday, would regulate hookahs, nicotine gels, cigars and e-cigarettes. The FDA currently only regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco.
Some smokers turn to e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking. Medical experts donít know the full health impact of e-cigarettes yet. Leaders at the FDA want to get ahead of the trend.
The proposal would make e-cigarette producers register their products and show their ingredients to the agency.
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