NEWS STORIES

Helium Shortage Affects Local Floral BusinessSubmitted: 02/12/2013

RHINELANDER - Helium-filled balloons will cost a little more this Valentine's Day.
There's a helium shortage. And some florists are worried about their store's biggest shopping day of the year.

Forth Floral Owner Ruth Hempel has seen helium prices rise over the past year. But her store is doing all they can to keep prices low.

“We've tried to do a better job on finding better deals on the actual balloons themselves to offset the increase. At this time of the year though, because it's Valentine's Day, the little bit extra they might have to pay usually isn't a big deal. For most, especially guys, if they want that balloon they're going to buy it.”

Some parts of the country are out completely. Hempel said her business could deal without, but having balloons is an added perk.

“It's just that added exclamation point on the bouquet so as long as we can continue to do it we’re going to hope we can. But if it gets to that point we're just going to have to find some other thing that gives that little punch.”

Helium is also used for welding, medical devices, and some computer parts.


Story By: Ryan Abney

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Police: Smoking in bathroom caused school fireSubmitted: 04/24/2014

OCONTO - Police say a student smoking in a bathroom caused a fire that resulted in an estimated $5 million in smoke damage at Oconto High School.

After reviewing surveillance video and interviewing students and staff members, Oconto police have identified as 16-year-old student as a person of interest.

Firefighters interviewed the student, who said he left class early and went to the bathroom, where he smoked a home-rolled cigarette.

Police believe the cigarette was used too close to a toilet paper dispenser, causing an accidental fire. No one else used the bathroom after the boy.

The April 16 fire forced the building to be evacuated. Students returned to class Monday at Oconto Middle School.

WLUK-TV (http://bit.ly/1lJIFZH) reports the boy is being referred to the Oconto County Department of Human Services.

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Duffy might have used earmark to help pay for Northwoods water main breaks, if he couldSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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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.

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All the deliciousness, one location Submitted: 04/24/2014

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MINOCQUA - People can find some of the best tasting food in the Northwoods.

But it's tough trying all of the different types of restaurants in a community all at once.

Thursday that was possible.

The Minocqua Chamber of Commerce hosted their 7th annual Taste of the North.

It was started by an ambassador from the chamber who passed away.

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Dane County judge to hear Planned Parenthood lawsuitSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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.

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WisDOT leaders hopeful for increase in Northwoods railSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Railroads give businesses a chance to move loads of material for a low cost. Loggers could use rail as an alternative to trucking material, but many businesses don’t get that opportunity in the Northwoods anymore.

Canadian National bought rail in the Northwoods about a decade ago. They have cut back service drastically since then.

Some counties haven't seen train travel in years, which hurts business. Now, those businesses want to reestablish rail service.

In response, a group of counties in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan formed the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission.

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Statewide tornado drillSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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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."

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UPDATE: Police believe they made right choice in Nerf gun ticketsSubmitted: 04/24/2014

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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.

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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)

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