Gov. Walker focuses on job creation in third State of the State addressSubmitted: 01/15/2013

Lane Kimble
Managing Editor/Anchor

MADISON - You get the impression Governor Walker knows exactly what his priority is in 2013: finding ways to get people back to work.

The Governor delivered his third State of the State speech at the Capitol building Tuesday night.

(NOTE: 10pm video coverage: play attached video via 'Play Video' option near photo. For Rep. Mandy Wright's reaction video, please follow link below full story text)

Last year, Walker faced a somewhat disruptive crowd. We saw several noisy protestors get thrown out during his speech.

That wasn't the case this time around. A mainly supportive group of lawmakers, family, friends and observers greeted Walker in the Assembly chambers.

His overall tone was positive too. The Governor didn't waste much time in getting to his main point, that we need to get aggressive in creating jobs.

He says one big way to do that: pass mining legislation that failed last year.

"Start with the legislation that was approved in the Joint Finance Committee last session," Governor Walker said. "Include some reasonable modifications. Send me a bill to sign into law early this year."

The Governor shook up the status quo this year by using props. He brought miners on stage here to hammer home his point about safe and productive mining.

Later, Travel Wisconsin reps joined him on stage to emphasize the Department of Tourism's role. That's an industry that the Governor noted brings in $16 billion a year and is a big draw for the Northwoods.

"Several years ago the previous governor closed Welcome Centers," Walker said. "As a candidate, I highlighted the importance of the tourism industry and pleged to open these centers. Tonight, I'm happy to report there are now eight Travel Wisconsin Welcome Centers staffed with people that direct visitors to all the attractions across our great state."

Walker also pointed to education reforms and new programs like last summer's online degree program as tools that can help the economy grow.

It's jobs where the governor began and where he ended Tuesday, giving his goal of creating 250,000 of them by the end of his term a personal spin.

"Our focus of creating 250,000 jobs by 2015 is much more than just a campaign promise," Walker said. "Simply put, it's about helping improve the lives of 250,000 more families in Wisconsin."

Walker also touched on his plans to lower income tax rates on all middle class families. He'll give his details on how that will work in his next budget, which comes out next month.

Newswatch 12 had a chance to get a response from Democratic state representative Mandy Wright from Wausau after the Governor's speech. Wright was happy with the tone of the night, but is cautiously optimistic about this session.

"I think it's really important, the tone that's set at the beginning of any gathering, especially something like this where we know we will be together long-term," Wright said. "I think it's really important we found a way to compromise on our first bill.

I'm sure we will have our differences, but I hope we find ways to respectfully disagree and really focus on things we can agree on, again, creating jobs, keeping our education system strong, so that we can more forward and do the work of the people that we were hired to do."

Wright touched on mining too, saying, "If [the Governor] is just going to skim over that and not acknowledge the problems with the bill from last session, I think there will be a lot of problems again," Wright said.

"On the other hand, I do think there really are ways that we can find a compromise so that we make sure the environment is clean for future generations and we have clean water and air and clean land. And that we create good, family-supporting jobs that will be sustainable and help our communities into the future."

Related Weblinks:
Democratic Rep. Mandy Wright's reaction to State of the State Address

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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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MILWAUKEE - The trade deal known as the Trans Pacific Partnership has taken a pounding on the presidential campaign trail. But, at least one group is holding out hope for the pact - Wisconsin dairy producers

They see nothing but advantages from a deal that could increase exports at a time when their cows are producing more milk than ever in an over-saturated domestic market.

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PARK FALLS - A Chamber of Commerce likes to welcome people in to town, not scare them away.

In Park Falls, the chamber does it a little differently. 

Their haunted house is guaranteed to frighten anyone.

But the scares keep drawing people in while supporting the community.

"They should be prepared right off the bat," said volunteer Skyler Dural-Eder.

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TOWN OF DEXTER - Two people died and two others were taken to the hospital after a head-on crash in Wood County Tuesday afternoon.

The Wood County Sheriff's Department says the cars crashed along Highway 80 in the Town of Dexter around 3:35 p.m.

Two of the three people in one car were pronounced dead at the scene.  The third was flown to Ministry St. Joseph's Hospital.  The driver of the other car was also flown to St. Jospeh's.

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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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