MINOCQUA - Plans for a new highway in Minocqua have been in affect for a while now.
The Department of transportation is hoping that highway 51 will have some new changes that will affect the community in a positive way.
"When weíre done weíll have all new pavement. A lot safer. Weíll have bicycles facilities on the road and bicycle facilities off the road," said DOT Project Development Supevisor, Robin Stafford.
"Weíve put sidewalks on both sides so pedestrians will be easier getting up and down the highway. There will be a lot of benefits to the new project."
But Minocqua business owners donít see it that way.
"Being as if thereís really only one main artery from south going through the Northwoods in this area and itís right out here in our front door, itís really going to have a negative impact." said Kurts Island Sports Shop Owner, Kurt Justice.
In fact some owners think the process and the finished product will take away some of their profits.
But the DOT seems to be locked in.
"Unfortunately with such a big project like this you canít really appease to everyone," Stafford said.
"And so there is some people up there who arenít happy, but again overall I think the community and the traveling public will be very happy with the product when itís done."
Even though it has been set in stone for Minocqua, residents are hoping DOT will take their opinions into consideration.
"The Minocqua project is scheduled to start this spring and weíre hoping that the DOT still has room for modification and changes based on some of the discussions that we had at town hall last Friday." said 34th District Assembly Representative Rob Swearingen.
Now projects in other towns such as Arbor Vitae, Hazelhurst and Woodruff have not been finalized.
Swearingen suggests that if you want to voice your opinions on the project, you should contact your town board and chairman.
RHINELANDER - Most people can now successfully get through the online healthcare website. The Obama administration announced today about 365,000 people have successfully signed up.
That's well behind what the administration had hoped for at this point. Some people are still having trouble because the website isn't completely fixed. But the federal marketplace is paying some people to help.
Aylee Herr is a certified application counselor. He helps people navigate the healthcare.gov website. Today he was helping people sign up in Rhinelander.
In two months three workers in his office have only signed up 30 people in Northcentral Wisconsin.
"The number is actually going up and we are enrolling more people not just them but through our educational processes people are able to do this on their own, that's actually helping these numbers go up and the website is actually working a lot better now," says Aylee Herr, a Certified Application Counselor.
The website was designed to be at a sixth grade level. Before logging onto the site, itís important to understand your family arrangement and household income.
ďOnce you get that number worked out the second step we want you to do is figure out what hospitals and doctors you prefer," says Herr. "Once you have those two in a way figured out its very easy for you to navigate the website."
The Obama administration and counselors like Herr will continue their enrollment push through the New Year. People enrolling by December 23rd can get coverage by the first of the year.
ACROSS WISCONSIN - More people enrolled into Obamacare during the month of November compared to October, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Statewide, 4,426 people enrolled into the federal health program in November.
Glitches and technical issues on healthcare.gov made coverage signup difficult in its early weeks.
Fewer than 900 people in Wisconsin signed up for insurance on the federal exchange in October.
The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance says the November numbers are an improvement. But J.P. Wieske, Office of the Commissioner of Insurance public information officer, says they're still shy of expectations.
"The numbers aren't nearly enough from our standpoint, and hopefully that will improve," Wieske said.
But Wieske believes that not completely because people arenít buying insurance.
"A lot of people took advantage of the early renewal process, either small businesses or individuals." Wieske said. "So in a lot of cases while they have the ability to certainly shop on the exchange, they've already locked in a plan for next year."
Estimates say more than 550,000 Wisconsinites were uninsured before the federal law took effect. The state hopes about half of them will get insurance through the federal exchange.
Wieske says theyíll use regional enrollment networks instead of general advertising to get the word out.
"And have people available to staff those, talk to people and to get them where they need to go." Wieske said. "This stuff, while we have simplified it as best we can, it's certainly complicated."
Website improvements have helped more people access information on rates and access to purchase coverage. Even though more people are getting through the site Wieske encourages buyers to double check their coverage.
"I can't emphasize enough that you think you have coverage, you've signed up through the exchange and you haven't received any confirmation, it's worth your time just to call the insurer that you signed up with to make sure they have your information correct," Wieske said.
According to Department of Health and Human Services statistics, 47,173 applications have been submitted. Those applications cover 85,863 Wisconsinites.
Between October and November, 5,303 Wisconsinites have successfully selected and enrolled into a marketplace plan.
WHITEWATER - Wisconsin has made the Peace Corps' Top 10 list for number of volunteers per capita.
Peace Corps volunteers spend two years working in a developing country. Tasks might include teaching English, digging wells and tending gardens.
According to rankings released Wednesday, for every 100,000 Wisconsin residents, 3.7 join the Peace Corps. That's ninth best in the nation, just behind Minnesota (3.8). Vermont is No. 1 at 7.8 volunteers per 100,000 residents.
Many of Wisconsin's volunteers come from the Whitewater area, which was ranked No. 10 in metro areas per capita.
President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961 to foster a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. More than 215,000 Americans have served in 139 countries worldwide.
GREEN BAY - Gov. Scott Walker says a historic tax credit bill he has signed into law will help revitalize downtowns across Wisconsin.
Walker signed the measure Wednesday at the Hotel Northland in Green Bay. Redevelopment of that 1920s-era hotel is among the projects expected to benefit from the bill that doubles a tax credit available for such expenses.
The new law extends a 20 percent tax credit to all qualified rehabilitation expenses done to buildings built before 1936.
Walker says the tax credit will help lessen renovation and rehabilitation costs that have hampered rebuilding projects in the past.
The city of Green Bay plans to use the tax credit as part of its $35 million renovation of the Hotel Northland, which has been vacant for many years.
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