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NEWS STORIES

Gov. Walker surveys northwestern Wisconsin wildfire damageSubmitted: 05/16/2013
Story By CNN


DOUGLAS COUNTY - We spent the last few nights taking in the sheer destruction a massive wildfire in Northwestern Wisconsin created.

Thursday, Governor Scott Walker got a first-hand look at the damage caused by a massive wildfire.

The governor and local officials toured the damaged areas in Douglas and Bayfield counties by helicopter.

The fire scorched some 9,000 acres and destroyed 47 buildings, including at least 17 homes.

But the governor made sure to point out the number of buildings saved.

"Seventy-seven structures were saved," Walker said. "Seventy-seven structures. When you look at this from an aerial shot, when you look at the map it is phenomenal particularly when you see the ashes literally yards away from homes and properties and you realize it was the fire service there making sure and it was the DNR crews making sure that those properties were protected, it's just phenomenal."

The fire is completely out as of Thursday night.

The DNR says this is the largest fire in northern Wisconsin in 33 years.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

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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ANTIGO - Excitement and joy filled faces in Antigo Monday afternoon.

Habitat for Humanity of Langlade County broke ground on their 9th home, but it will take some hands-on work before the family can move in.

David and Theresa Ferrel have been renting for the last 10 years. This will be the first home they will own.

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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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BIG FLATS - The Adams County Sheriff's Office believes a 62-year-old man set a mobile home on fire in Big Flats, north of Friendship, last Friday. The Sheriff's Office says that the body of the man's 92-year-old mother was likely still inside at the time, dead of an apparent gunshot wound.

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STEVENS POINT - A 58-year-old Portage County man accused of killing his wife and getting in a standoff with police is competent for trial.

That standoff happened in Bancroft, which is south of Plover, in June.

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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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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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