NEWS STORIES

Merrill Charter Serves Students StatewideSubmitted: 04/03/2013
MERRILL - As odd as it may sound, hundreds of kids are enrolled in the Merill School District – without actually living anywhere near Merrill.

That’s the new reality of virtual school.

Bridges Virtual Academy opened this year.

Administrator John Hagemeister expected about 100 kids to enroll. Instead, he got 500 – from all over the state.

That’s because Hagemeister’s idea is unique. Before Bridges, he homeschooled his own kids.

He wanted to combine the freedom of homeschooling with the resources of public school.

The Reimer family of Arbor Vitae made the switch to Bridges this year.

"We do our schooling at home, but we're not technically homeschooling anymore," says Kathy Reimer.

As a homeschooler, Reimer wasn't allowed to take part in public school classes.

But Bridges Virtual Academy gives her more options.

"We did art lessons at the Campanile Center, piano lessons, and dance lessons for the girls," she said. "We probably could've provided one lesson for them, but this allows us to give them opportunities to do things we wouldn't normally be able to do."


John Hagemeister started the academy with more opportunities in mind.

"These are taxpayers and if you homeschool, they don't get anything in return. Some people like it that way, because there's no entanglement, there's no extras," he said. "But if there's a way we can partner, why shouldn't we try? They're taxpayers, they're community members, they're looking for some kind of educational service through us, so let's try and do it."

Taxpayers - including the Reimers - bought a computer for each of her kids. They also share an iPad and have access to teachers.

There is a trade-off for that support. As a homeschooler, Reimer didn't have to evaluate her kids at all. Now, she has to administer school and state tests.

But that doesn't bother her.

"The testing only confirms what I already know," she said. "Because you're homeschooling, you know your kids' strengths and you know your kids' weaknesses."

But beyond the testing, Reimer still gets to do things her way. That's different from most virtual schools.

"A typical virtual school is like taking this and putting it online, the brick and mortar and putting it online, and that's not what they're looking for," Hagemeister said. "They're looking for something that's flexible, time wise, curriculum wise."

"That opens up our ability to do things for our kids, and give them opportunities that we couldn't give them," Reimer said. "So that is a really great thing."

Story By: Lex Gray

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Wisconsin court to decide on testing drunk driversSubmitted: 04/18/2014

MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to decide whether police can legally draw suspected drunken drivers' blood without a warrant or driver consent.

The court said it would hear three drunken driving cases, two of which involved a homicide. That announcement came nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a Missouri case that could call into question Wisconsin's law.

Wisconsin since 1993 has granted police authority to draw drunken driving suspects' blood without a warrant or consent.

About 5,000 people refused to comply with police tests in 2011 and 2012.

The eventual rulings in the three cases are expected to clarify how law enforcement can gather evidence in some Wisconsin drunken driving cases.

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Observing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday Submitted: 04/18/2014

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RHINELANDER - You could find a decent amount of businesses closed early Friday.

That's because many of the owners and employees were in church.

People filled the pews at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rhinelander on Good Friday.

People honored the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

"His death which looks really bad for us is really good because it's in our place," said Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church pastor, Richard Krahn.

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Merrill library stays ahead of technology, offers visitors 3D printerSubmitted: 04/18/2014

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MERRILL - Workers at the T.B. Scott Free Library in Merrill want people to use the library for more than just books.

They're offering the newest in technology and design to visitors.

The library just got a 3D printer for everyone to use.

3D printers are most often found at places like manufacturing plants and tech colleges.

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Community fundraises for boy with rare diseaseSubmitted: 04/18/2014

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THREE LAKES - Imagine not being able to move your body.

That was the reality for a 4th grader from Three Lakes

Hunter St. Louis has a rare nerve disease called Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome makes your body attack nerve cells.

The messages from the brain can't get to the nerves.

So his body was unable to move.

Hunter had to go through seven plasma replacements.

And now he'll go through intense physical therapy.

Hunter is leaving the hospital Friday, but he still has a long road to full recovery.

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Northwoods filmmaker makes movies for the big screenSubmitted: 04/18/2014

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MERRILL - When you think of movies you probably think of Hollywood, but one man from Northcentral Wisconsin is bringing his feature film to the local screen.

Wausau’s Jarrod Crooks not only makes movies, but he also stars in them.

His latest film, "Dispatched" is based off the Elvis Presley movie, “Girl Happy,” says filmmaker Jarrod Crooks. “My character Jake is sent to go watch my bosses daughter while she’s on vacation with a friend. Then an old enemy is kind of after him while he’s on vacation, so some things happen.”

Crooks made, "Dispatched" on a $5,000 budget and it’s full of romance, action, and comedy.

“My buddy would joke with me, ‘why don’t you just pick one genre man and then just go with it'," says Crooks. "I’m like because I want to make this movie how I want to make It'." "I actually like romantic comedies, I think they’re kind of fun, and I think they’re cute. I like action films because I’m a guy, and I like comedy because Jim Carey is great.”

Crooks is only 28 and has already made 4 feature films. His passion started when he was 12 years old.

“I went over to my friend’s house and he had a video camera. I was like oh we should make a movie, and at that time I was really into, “Wishbone,” says Crooks.

“We’d always remake our own literature pieces. Then I saw my first Jackie Chan movie and I’m like, alright it’s settled we’re doing action films from now on," says Crooks. “From then on it was just a love affair with the filmmaking.”

His latest film will be shown at the Cosmo Theatre in Merrill on Saturday at 5pm.

“The fact that I’m bringing it to central Wisconsin is great because this is where I grew up," says Crooks. "All my family and friends get to see it, so I’m very excited about that and you get to see yourself on the big screen what’s better than that.”





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Survey shows fewer high school students drinking,smoking and having sexual intercourseSubmitted: 04/18/2014

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ACROSS WISCONSIN - A new survey released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction shows fewer high school students are smoking, drinking and having sex.

The 2013 Wisconsin Youth Risk Behavior Survey is taken every two years. It anonymously surveys more than 2800 students from more than 50 public school districts around Wisconsin.

The survey shows 12 percent of high school students had smoked a cigarette on one or more days in the past 30 days of the survey. That’s down from 32 percent in 1993.

Katie Kennedy, Options Counseling Services Clinician, works with teenagers that suffer from alcohol and other drug addictions. She believes intervention programs have helped lead to declines.

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Statton's General Store will close after ten yearsSubmitted: 04/18/2014

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TOMAHAWK - Statton’s General Store in Tomahawk will close its doors after ten years.

Dick and Rita Statton opened the business in May of 2004.

“I decided it was time for a change,” says Dick Statton.

Dick worked in manufacturing for 32 years before opening the business.

He wanted to try something new.

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