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NEWS STORIES

Ginseng Board Strikes $200 Million Deal with Chinese CompanySubmitted: 04/23/2013
Story By Lex Gray


EDGAR - You see "Made in China" stickers every time you go to the store.

But soon, Chinese people will be seeing more Wisconsin-grown and made products in their stores.

Governor Walker went on a trade mission to China last week to help generate business in Wisconsin.

"Ginseng in our area is a pretty popular thing because of our soil and climate," said ginseng farmer Joe Heil. "Marathon County is the leading producer of ginseng in the US."


Heil is the president of the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin. He farms corn, soybean and 100 acres of ginseng. Ginseng is highly valued as an herbal medication, especially in Asia.

"It's definitely a bigger challenge. Soybeans, corn, anyone can grow that crop," he said. "Ginseng is a real challenge, there's no books, there's not been a lot of research done as far as how to grow it, because it's such a challenge."

But there's a payoff. Heil's fields are muddy and snow-covered now, but in October, they're worth upwards of $100,000 per acre.

Governor Walker worked out a big ginseng deal with Chinese leaders last week.

He announced growers could export $200 million worth of ginseng over the next ten years. Most of it will come from Marathon County.

"We understand a win-win proposition," Walker said from Beijing. "For us, a strong Chinese economy is just as important to us as a strong American economy in Wisconsin is for the people of China."

Heil hopes Governor Walker's trade mission will help Wisconsin's ginseng industry grow.

"I'm hoping that it's sustainable enough that young people will start getting back into the business or taking over the family farms," he said. "That's one thing we've seen, if we go back about ten years we have 1500 farmers and now we're down to about 140 in the state of Wisconsin just because it's not been profitable."

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WISCONSIN - The Wisconsin DNR wants to know if it has the right plans for beavers in the state. The final public feedback period is open for the new beaver management plan.

The document will guide decisions on beavers through 2025. The final draft touches on topics like population, habitat, and damage management. The current draft recommends keeping beaver populations mostly stable in the state.

Public input for the final beaver management plan is open through June 22. The DNR will also host a public meeting on June 16 from 6-8 p.m. at the DNR Service Center in Rhinelander to take comments.

You can read the final draft of the plan by clicking the link below. Another link shows opportunities for feedback.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Last Thursday, 15 members of the Oneida County community graduated from Leadership Oneida County. The nine-month program aims to give participants a better understanding of the county's resources and to improve participation in organizations throughout the county.

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The course was in great shape by late April. Golfers flooded in to play during the entire week.


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EDGAR - Marathon County authorities say a woman has died from drowning in a pool in Edgar in central Wisconsin.

Lt. Tim Burkholder of the Marathon County Sheriff's Department says it happened sometime after midnight Monday.

While the investigation is ongoing, he says the drowning appears to be accidental.

The department is withholding the victim's name and other details for now.

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MERRILL - Hundreds of people gathered in Merrill on Monday to honor the lives of the service men and women lost over the years.

"From the Second World War, there were over 400,000 men and women who lost their lives, and it took a tremendous toll on our young people," said World War II veteran Richard Bjorklund.

The ceremony featured a guest speaker and acknowledged those still alive who served. People young and old remembered friends and family who are no longer here.

"Everybody worked together, and we still lost guys," said Vietnam War veteran John Jirovec. "It's hard to forget. Really hard to forget."

For one mother, every day is Memorial Day.
 
"My son Ryan, Sergeant Ryan Jopek, was killed in action on August 2, 2006," said Jopek's mother Tracy. "He just turned 20 and was coming home in a couple weeks, but fate didn't have it quite that way, and he didn't make it home, and we miss him every day."

Tears were shed thinking of the memories of loved ones, remembering freedom comes with a price.

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ST. GERMAIN - A popular Northwoods tradition kicked off its 40th season today. The St. Germain Flea Market draws thousands of bargain hunters each week during the summer.

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RHINELANDER -  A Northwoods veterans group wants people to remember those who died serving our country. 

The Oneida County Veterans Council held a Memorial Day ceremony in Rhinelander on Monday.

The Rhinelander High School band and choir performed at the ceremony.

Mayor Dick Johns was the speaker. 

Event organizers hope people take time on Memorial Day to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. 

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