RHINELANDER - We can file our taxes online, send emails instead of letters, and pay our bills without seeing a single piece of paper.
So it made sense that most of us worried Wausau Paper would shut down its Rhinelander and Mosinee mills.
But it now seems that probably won't be the case.
An investment firm in New York called KPS announced in late March it would buy Wausau Paper's Mosinee and Rhinelander mills.
We learned Monday KPS also plans to buy Thilmany Papers, which has mills in Kaukauna and De Pere.
KPS will form a new company made up of Thilmany and Wausau Paper's four mills.
That means the mills will probably stay open.
"This announcement is really great news, not only for Thilmany papers, but also for the entire paper industry in the state of Wisconsin," said Thilmany Papers spokesperson Addie Teeters. "This new company will form, by employee count, the largest paper company in the state, and the fact that we're going to support so many families in the state through well-paid jobs and strong papermaking historical franchises coming together, we're really excited about it."
While computers slowly shut down other parts of the paper industry, this new company won't be threatened, because it will make only specialty paper.
That includes paper for microwave popcorn bags, the medical industry, and sheets to protect steel.
"We are not at risk as some of our competitors have seen of electronic substitution," Teeter said. "We are not in the printing and writing business. Because we have such a strong market, we really feel that these businesses are going to be very strong in the future."
Wausau Paper's spokesperson Perry Grueber would not answer phone calls, but wrote in an email, "This is definitely a positive step."
The deal isn't finalized yet, but could be done as soon as June.
MERRILL - For 32 years Battalion Chief Mike Drury walked into the Merrill Fire Department ready to save lives. Friday he walked out of the department for the last time to start the new phase of his life. "It goes fast it goes really fast," said Drury. Drury was about 18 -years -old when he walked into the Merrill Fire Department for the first time. "When you're 18, 19,20 years old and you're looking at 50 something years old you think you're never going to get there," said Drury.
Drury is one of 184 firefighters to ever work full time with the city of Merrill. "As a firefighter they spend a lot of time at the fire house so they miss a lot of things," said Drury's daughter Cassi. After 32 years of missing birthdays, holidays and family time Drury was ready for a change. "I realized I had enough this is a young man's job," said Drury. Friday afternoon Drury said goodbye to a room of men who merged and became family. "Not having that is a little scary I know they'll always be our family but it's hard to leave," said Cassi. Cassi watched her dad rush off to help his community since the day she was born. "It's scary because you hear about the times things don't go right or the times fire fighters don't come home," said Cassi.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander couple thought they were empty nesters. However, an experience volunteering made them open their doors back up to kids who need a temporary home. The Zoerb's adult children moved out years ago. But at any moment they could get a call from social services that make them bring out their parenting skills for another round. Rick and Danielle Zoerb work together as realtors putting people in homes that are the perfect fit. However, the husband and wife know their home can be a good fit for others too. "There's no reason for kids to have to fall through the cracks," said Dani. Rick met a child at a mentorship program a few years ago. It was a meeting that opened a new door for him and his wife. "There was no hesitation on our part when we felt the situation was deteriorating for this young boy," said Rick.
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