RHINELANDER - Getting people downtown more often tops the priority list for Downtown Rhinelander Incorporated.
The group surveyed business owners to find out what they would work on.
At the top of their list: Updating streetscapes and facades, and creating a signature event.
It all revolves around people coming downtown and staying there.
DRI's Maggie Steffen says business owners are starting to improve appearances.
"It's just like if you're trying to sell your home," Steffen said.
"You're trying to have the best foot forward to make it look enticing and make it look like you're innovative and moving forward. I think that's something that the businesses downtown need to do. They have, a lot of them have stepped up, and there's a few more that need to do so."
The group is putting together plans to redesign downtown.
That could include wider sidewalks to encourage outdoor seating.
Those plans would coincide with the city's upcoming utility work.
"We're working on getting a planning grant that gets submitted by the city," Steffen said.
"We're the ones instrumenting that move. That will also help us determine what we're going to do. It's a perfect opportunity, it may seem like a negative at the time but it's a perfect opportunity to totally revamp and get the city up to the next level. It's something brand-spanking new."
Northwoods middle school starts fundraiser to help homeless shelter
EAGLE RIVER - A Northwoods middle school started a fundraising competition Monday that will help raise money for the Frederick Place in Rhinelander.
Grades six through eight at Northland Pines Middle School in Eagle River will compete to raise the most money.
Students donate a dollar to buy a brick. The goal is to get the most bricks on the tape framed house on the wall in the school's cafeteria.
Eighth grader Zach Neddo helped put the project together.
"It feels better knowing that we're helping homeless people get a home so that we know exactly where its going," Neddo said. "Its not like your just mailing it off somewhere not knowing what it's being used for."
Other students like the Student Council President Sophie Spiess hope the competition encourages others to help with homelessness in the area.
"It really does make kids realize that homelessness is a part of our community, that we do need to take action and help people out," Spiess said.
Neddo says the donations have increased since the competition started Monday. He hopes more students begin to donate.
"It's going good right now, I just hope more kids get involved because if you look at all of the bricks with the names on them, a lot of names keep repeating, so I just hope more kids get involved and help support homeless people," Neddo said.
The competition runs through Friday. You can contact the Northland Pines Middle School to donate or help.
RHINELANDER - Many older people in the Northwoods still love their paper-and-print books. The task of choosing between today's e-readers and tablets can seem daunting. But e-readers and tablets are creeping in as popular options too.
The Rhinelander Library held a class today to teach people about the different options for going mobile. Educating older people is especially helpful.
“If you're just interested in books people usually want to have an e-reader,” says Erica Brewster, Family Living Agent with Oneida County UW Extension. “If you're interested in doing a lot more maybe you want to watch Netflix movies or you want to be on the internet than you want to look at a tablet.”
Some of the popular tablets include the iPad and the Microsoft Surface. People interested in an e-reader might consider the Kindle or the Nook.
“We've gone from computers being something we have on a desk and we work with, to taking it for granted that we have a cell phone, we have a tablet, something that travels with us,” says Brewster. “So the mobile technology is the newest and greatest breaking trend really that we have is being able to carry our technology with us.”
E-readers are typically cheaper than tablets which can cost a few hundred dollars.
RHINELANDER - The antler-less deer hunt season opens Thursday.
Local legislators wanted to cancel the four day hunting season, but the DNR says that can't happen.
It would take at least six months to get through the administrative process to cancel any hunting season.
The DNR wants hunters to have a chance to hunt game before the season ends.
Jeremy Holtz is a DNR wildlife biologist in Rhinelander.
"The December antler-less hunt would simply be giving hunters who didn't get to hunt the first weekend--because they had to work, or they were in another part of the state--to fill a tag they already have," said Holtz. "So the odds of it having a significantly negative impact on the herd from a population management standpoint, I would consider them pretty low."
Republicans Tom Tiffany, Rob Swearingen, and Mary Czaja disagree. They say last year's late winter and high number of predators hurt the deer.
Now, legislators believe this year's early winter weather will continue to hurt the herd.
"My office in Madison, Representative Mary Czaja from Tomahawk, and certainly Senator Tiffany, have been receiving a lot of comments from frustrated sportsman regarding the low harvest of the deer season this year," said Rob Swearingen, Wisconsin State Representative. "As well as with the natural predators out there, and the early on set of icy conditions, we're worried that all of this together is going to create the perfect storm and take it's toll on these deer."
In August, two deer management units over-issued about 350 antler-less deer permits.
The DNR says it got about 254 of those permits back.
Last year in Oneida County, 74 deer were shot during the antler-less deer season.
Antler-less deer hunting is open from December 12 through December 15.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander employee union believes the city illegally rejected their collective bargaining agreement,now they’re suing the city.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1226 represents City of Rhinelander workers from public works, wastewater, parks, water and golf course employees. They filed suit against the city on Dec. 4, 2013.
The union says they reached a tentative agreement for a new collective bargaining agreement in early December 2012. But according court documents, the union claims the city council illegally rejected the agreement and didn’t tell the union about it.
Aaron Halstead, from Madison-based firm Hawks Quindel, S.C., has been a labor lawyer for more than 20 years and says he has never seen a municipality do something like this before.
"I've never had any municipality do what the city did here which is to reject an agreement with the union, despite the fact that they had an agreement on all of the terms," Halstead said.
The union believes the city is violating Wisconsin Municipal Employment Relations Act. In 2012, city workers asked for a one percent wage increase starting January 1,2013.
Halstead said the city and union agreed to that increase in their tentative agreement. According to the group's complaint, the city council rejected the tentative collective bargaining agreement, but passed the one percent wage increase as a resolution.
But the union claims the collective bargaining agreement wasn’t renewed. Instead the group says the city passed a resolution putting the terms into a personnel manual.
Rhinelander city council met Monday night to discuss how to move forward once the city is formally served with lawsuit.
"I think it's unfortunate. We have a good relationship with the union, and a good relationship with the employees," said Blaine Oborn, Rhinelander city administrator. "We have a lot of outstanding employees. So unfortunately, with all this ambiguity [concerning] Acts 10 and 32, I think that this kind of stuff unfortunately [happens]."
The complaint also claims that the city reduced the wages of newly hired people by $4 an hour. They say this violates the terms of the parties' tentative agreement. Halstead says they still haven't received an explanation.
"The city contends that it doesn't have to, but it has never provided a satisfactory answer as to what it is that is objectionable about the agreement that was reached," Halstead said.
Monday nights' meeting was a closed session.
The city will have three weeks to respond to the complaint.
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