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
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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Board speeds up start of short-term loan program Submitted: 04/24/2014

MADISON - The start of a new short-term loan program that wasn't slated to begin until July has been moved up in an effort to help businesses hurt by recent cutbacks at Oshkosh Corp.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state's chief jobs agency, voted this week to start the pilot program earlier. It will provide loans or loan guarantees of up to $250,000 to companies for projects or expenses that may not be eligible for traditional financing.

The board says it was starting the program earlier in light of news that Oshkosh was cutting 760 jobs from its defense division because of budget cuts being made by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The loan program this year will only target businesses in Oshkosh Corp.'s supply chain

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Walker signs bill prohibiting cellphone trackingSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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MADISON - Wisconsin police could not track cellphone locations without a warrant under a bill Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law.

The measure Walker signed Wednesday passed the Legislature in February with no opposition.

Under the new law, police would have to present details about their investigation when seeking a warrant to track a cellphone. That includes the phone's owners or whoever is possessing it, the subject of the investigation, a statement of the crime and a statement of probable cause about how tracking the cellphone is related to criminal activity.

The bill was among 55 bills Walker signed privately.

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Library requests bids for expansionSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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EAGLE RIVER - A library in the Northwoods met their fundraising goals for a new addition.

Now the Walter E. Olson Memorial Library in Eagle River could see changes to their original plan.

The Eagle River city council members told the library trustees to look for new bids.

This could result in changes to the design that the library fund-raised for over the past two years.

Design and Build by Visner in Eagle River designed the expansion plan they fund-raised for.

"I think there was some disappointment on the part of the person that created the conceptual design that we fund-raised with," said Library Trustees President Tina Koller. "But they've stepped up to the plate and are willing to participate in the bidding process. So this is where I think we can really move forward today."

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Man accused of stealing cars and taking them across state linesSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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MARSHFIELD - Police believe a Marshfield man stole three cars in Illinois and brought them to Wisconsin.

He now faces four charges of stealing cars and taking them across state borders.

Police say Bradley Greene, 28, stole three cars in December 2013.

They also accuse him of stealing $5,000 worth of other items.

Those included a car hauler trailer, a flatbed trailer and trailer accessories.

Greene faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison on each count.

The charges against him are from an investigation by the Marshfield Police Department and Northern Illinois Auto Theft Task Force, according to a Department of Justice press release.

The prosecution of this case will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Anderson.

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Home sales on the rise in the NorthwoodsSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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NORTHWOODS - Home sales fell in the state of Wisconsin, but they're on the rise in the Northwoods.

Real Estate experts say home sales are up 5% in Oneida County. Home sales for the Northwoods are up 4%. Experts say right now it's a buyers market.

“If you're a seller right now you are probably going to be seeing some low ball offers,” says Ashlei Highfill, Century 21 Sales Associate. “We just encourage people to respond to any offer that they get not to just reject it or be offended but these days we are seeing a lot of buyers coming in and offering a lot less than what sellers are asking for.”

Experts say fewer homes are being foreclosed. This allows more families to make first time home purchases.

“It’s great to see that people are obviously getting back to work so they can afford to take that opportunity to put their family in their first home it's exciting for all of us,” says Highfill. “We're always happy to see somebody get that first house for their kids we're seeing some people that are making more money now so they're buying a move up house.”

Overall home sales in Wisconsin fell 11% compared to this time last year.

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Sentencing date released for Lincoln. Co. man convicted of killing wifeSubmitted: 04/23/2014

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MERRILL - A Lincoln County man convicted of killing his wife and hiding her body will get his sentence this summer.

50-year-old Mark Bucki was convicted earlier this month in connection to the death and disappearance of his wife Anita.

He was convicted on three charges including first-degree intentional homicide, hiding a body and strangling a person.

The first-degree intentional homicide charge carries a mandatory life in prison sentence, according to Lincoln County Judge Jay Tlusty on the day of the April verdict.

Prosecutors want to add more years on top of the mandatory sentence with additional years from the other two charges.

Bucki will be back in court for his sentencing July 3rd.

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