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NEWS STORIES

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

Lane Kimble
Managing Editor/Anchor
lkimble@wjfw.com


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

MADISON -

The state Department of Natural Resources will unveil a new endangered species license plate tomorrow.

The plate features a photograph of Glory.

Glory is the eagle that stars in education programs at a Nature Center in Milwaukee.

The design was chosen from more than 2,000 entries.

Two other endangered species plates are currently available.

One features a wolf.

The eagle plate will replace the other, a badger plate.

The plates' fees include an annual $25 donation to the DNR's endangered species fund.

(Copyright 2015 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)


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HURLEY - Iron County officials say other developers with better qualifications than Gogebic Taconite are interested in mining ore in the Penokee Hills.

County Board members met last week with representatives from La Pointe Iron Co., which owns much of the land in northern Wisconsin that Gogebic Taconite tried to develop before pulling out in February.

One county board member says Gogebic Taconite's performance may make it harder for another developer to gain the public's trust.

He says county residents will likely remain divided on the mine because of environmental concerns.

But if state and federal regulators can guarantee the environment won't suffer, he says the mine might be worth pursuing because it could bring jobs to an area that desperately needs them.

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MARATHON COUNTY - Warren Rydell doesn't mind the buzz or stingers.

"You don't need to be afraid of bees, you just have to love them for what they are," said Rydell.

Rydell has raised bees since the 1980s. Now with 35 colonies and thousands of bees in Marathon County, he's produced hundreds of pounds of honey just this year.

"We're having success with it," said Rydell, who's with the Marathon County Beekeepers Association. "A little at a time. You make mistakes, but it's getting better."

But here and across the country, bee populations have been on the decline for years. Bees are important pollinators for the environment, which is why the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will meet next week to devise a pollinator protection plan.

"Whether people know it or not, for every three tablespoons of food you eat, two of those table spoons are produced by bees, and without them, we're not going to be able to feed people," said Rydell.

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CONOVER - The first stretch of the Conover-Phelps trail may be ready in the fall.

Crews started carving out the first part of the trail, a 3.2 mile stretch, last week.

The trail starts at Community Park in Conover and continues across County Highway K to Highway 45. It runs 
parallel to the highway along old railway beds. The trail will end at Muskrat Creek Road in Conover.

The trail is for non-motorized vehicles except for snowmobiles, which will be allowed in the winter. 

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WOODRUFF - More than 9,000 firefighters spent the day Monday in California battling wildfires.

20 more from Northern Wisconsin will join that group this week.

Firefighters, along with students from Blackwell Job Corps left for Oregon Monday.

Students at Blackwell Job Corps near Laona have been learning how to fight wildfires.

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MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker has asked Wisconsin's attorney general to take "immediate action" to protect ratepayers and workers from what the Republican presidential candidate calls "devastating impacts" of a new rule designed to cut greenhouse gases.

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EAGLE RIVER - Vilas County might get a larger courthouse.

The Vilas County Board Public Property Committee met on Monday to discuss possible plans.

The county thinks it needs another courtroom to accommodate its second circuit court judge. The county asked the state to fund the project last year.

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