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NEWS STORIES

Rhinelander's Mayor cautiously optimistic mill buyer will keep plant openSubmitted: 03/22/2013
Story By Lane Kimble


RHINELANDER - We need to wait awhile to figure out how the sale of Wausau Paper's Rhinelander and Mosinee mills will really effect the communities.

But Friday night, we did find a sense of cautious optimism coming from city leadership.

Rhinelander Mayor Dick Johns worked at the paper mill from 1955 to 1994. He's seen plenty of changes at the plant over the years, including three separate sales.

That past experience keeps him hopeful for the future.

"Confident's not a good word, but I'm hoping that it will be," Johns said. "That's important to all of us. You know, we have PrintPack down on the other side of town, that's an improvement to our community and we're proud of that and we're proud of that paper company."

KPS Capital Partners in New York invested $130 million to buy the two Wisconsin mills.

They're offering Wausau Paper 25 percent ownership in the new paper company they plan to form. Wausau Paper claims the investment group has "significant experience" in the paper business.

Mayor Johns hopes KPS understands Rhinelander needs to keep its mill.

"Any industry in this day and age is important to the community, especially when it's over 100 years old, you've had it here and it's been a part of your community for those many years," Johns said.

The sale isn't official just yet. There are seveal steps to go through, including establishing a new collective bargaining agreement with the unions.

Wausau Paper hopes to wrap things up by the end of the second quarter this year.

KPS invested in Waupaca Foundry, Inc., based in Waupaca, Wisconsin. Just last month, Waupaca Foundry dolled out a $200 million return to investers.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 07/07/2015

- The Wisconsin State Senate has passed two measures raising state trooper wages and compensation for state workers. The chamber will address the budget this afternoon. We'll have the latest and tell you what the budget could mean for you tonight on Newswatch 12.

- Plus, well take a look at the impact of the early crowd at the Hodag Country Festival.

We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - The Hodag Water Shows team could add some new tricks to its performances. The team is currently working on its barefoot skills with one of the world's best barefoot skiers.

"It's a little more high pace, a little more intense, but it's a lot of fun," says Ben Groen of the World Barefoot Center.

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LINCOLN COUNTY - A Tomahawk homeowner was able to scare off burglars back in March, even after being hit in the face with the hatchet. Now, a Merrill man will need to find 25 dollars in cash to get out of jail.

28-year-old Chad Staehle was charged with four felonies for breaking into a home in Tomahawk. Police believe he and three other men broke into the home with a hatchet and crowbar.

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MADISON - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says Gov. Scott Walker's office had a hand in crafting a budget amendment scaling back the state's open records law.

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EAGLE RIVER - If you want a new summer activity, look no further than Eagle River. A new art studio offers many different classes to kids and adults. 

"We've been here for a month, but the organization has been together for about three years," said Summer Program Director Erica Bush. "We're very excited to be in our own building finally."

Classes can cost anywhere from $20 to $50. People can sign up for classes ahead of time or just walk into the center. Program directors think it's important for kids to get involved in art early on.

"It's the creativity that the kids learn about," said Bush. "Creativity can go into all different aspects—math, science—it's everywhere. So enforcing art when they're really young will really lead to a more intelligent future for these kids."

The center offers anything from painting to pottery to cooking. Kids shared why they love to take art classes.
"You could just grab a piece of paper or something and then you can just doodle on it," said 4th grader Nicholas Fluegel. 

"It's really calming, and there's no bad way to do art," said 6th grader Grace Florence.

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MADISON - The state Senate has approved a raise for state troopers and a new compensation plan for other state workers but has delayed debate on the state budget.

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RHINELANDER - The Hodag Country Musical Festival kicks off on Thursday.

But there are already plenty of people camping out for the big event in the Northwoods.

Those campers benefit businesses in the Northwoods both new and old.

Johnny Nickolaou, who opened his liquor store in Sugar Camp around Thanksgiving, understands the importance of tourism.

"Huge, you know you depend on locals year round and they are great, but if it weren't for them I could never afford to be open," said Nickalaou. "But it's really nice getting this push to hopefully get us through the winter months."

Nickolaou set up a deal in preparation of Hodag Country Festival. He discounted around 10 large orders.

"15 case orders, most of them which is quite a bit I thought," said Nickalaou.


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