RHINELANDER - Students around the Northwoods graduated today. One local graduate made history at Nicolet College.
"As a Nicolet Grad, not only will your education enhance you as an individual, but you will enhance the greater good of the Northwoods community as an educated citizen of our democracy," says Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster.
Hundreds of Nicolet College students walked across the stage after accomplishing their goal… earning a college degree. But one student was challenged in a way no other Nicolet graduate has experienced. Jeff Hedberg is legally blind.
"Other people can follow in my foot steps and do exactly what I did. They just need to put one foot in front of the other and believe that there are people out there that will give them a chance and opportunity," says Hedberg.
Jeff's wife Sylvia Hedberg Thomas says it all started a couple of years ago when her husband decided to go back to school. The director of disability service reached out to him to help build a plan that would ensure Jeff reached his goals.
"When Bob told Jeff everything that he would be able to do, Jeff's like 'You really think I can do that?' And I was sitting there going, 'Well yea. Of course you can," says Hedberg Thomas.
Everybody either has or will have a disability to some extent within their lifetime. Technology can and will help most of them get through the challenge of their situation," says Hedberg.
Even though Jeff's tutor Charmaine Jacques helped him out, she says she learned from him as well.
"I learned a little bit of brail from Jeff and I learned a lot about his software that he uses," says Jacques.
This isn't the last stop for Jeff. He plans to get his masters at Stout University.
EAGLE RIVER - A Northwoods middle school started a fundraising competition Monday that will help raise money for the Frederick Place in Rhinelander.
Grades six through eight at Northland Pines Middle School in Eagle River will compete to raise the most money.
Students donate a dollar to buy a brick. The goal is to get the most bricks on the tape framed house on the wall in the school's cafeteria.
Eighth grader Zach Neddo helped put the project together.
"It feels better knowing that we're helping homeless people get a home so that we know exactly where its going," Neddo said. "Its not like your just mailing it off somewhere not knowing what it's being used for."
Other students like the Student Council President Sophie Spiess hope the competition encourages others to help with homelessness in the area.
"It really does make kids realize that homelessness is a part of our community, that we do need to take action and help people out," Spiess said.
Neddo says the donations have increased since the competition started Monday. He hopes more students begin to donate.
"It's going good right now, I just hope more kids get involved because if you look at all of the bricks with the names on them, a lot of names keep repeating, so I just hope more kids get involved and help support homeless people," Neddo said.
The competition runs through Friday. You can contact the Northland Pines Middle School to donate or help.
RHINELANDER - Many older people in the Northwoods still love their paper-and-print books. The task of choosing between today's e-readers and tablets can seem daunting. But e-readers and tablets are creeping in as popular options too.
The Rhinelander Library held a class today to teach people about the different options for going mobile. Educating older people is especially helpful.
“If you're just interested in books people usually want to have an e-reader,” says Erica Brewster, Family Living Agent with Oneida County UW Extension. “If you're interested in doing a lot more maybe you want to watch Netflix movies or you want to be on the internet than you want to look at a tablet.”
Some of the popular tablets include the iPad and the Microsoft Surface. People interested in an e-reader might consider the Kindle or the Nook.
“We've gone from computers being something we have on a desk and we work with, to taking it for granted that we have a cell phone, we have a tablet, something that travels with us,” says Brewster. “So the mobile technology is the newest and greatest breaking trend really that we have is being able to carry our technology with us.”
E-readers are typically cheaper than tablets which can cost a few hundred dollars.
MADISON - Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature are calling on Republicans to hold a public hearing on a bill to increase the minimum wage.
Twenty six Democrats, including possible gubernatorial candidate Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, sent a letter Tuesday requesting the hearing.
The bill was introduced in January. It would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $7.60 an hour and then have it go up automatically based on inflation.
The request for a hearing comes as President Barack Obama and Democrats nationally have been calling for an increase in the minimum wage.
Republican Sen. Glenn Grothman says he doesn't support the bill, saying a higher minimum wage won't help his goal of finding more entry level jobs for teenagers. Grothman chairs the Judiciary and Labor Committee.
EAU CLAIRE - Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law a pair of bills designed to help students who are pursuing a technical college education.
One bill Walker signed provides incentive grants to school districts that promote career and technical education programs. The grants of up to $1,000 per school district will be available starting next school year.
The other bill Walker signed provides scholarships to full time students at technical colleges. Between one and six scholarships worth $2,250 will be available at each school.
Both measures passed the Legislature unanimously earlier this year. Walker signed the bills in Eau Claire.
State Superintendent Tony Evers had proposed the incentives last year and thanked Walker for signing the bills into law.
RHINELANDER - The antler-less deer hunt season opens Thursday.
Local legislators wanted to cancel the four day hunting season, but the DNR says that can't happen.
It would take at least six months to get through the administrative process to cancel any hunting season.
The DNR wants hunters to have a chance to hunt game before the season ends.
Jeremy Holtz is a DNR wildlife biologist in Rhinelander.
"The December antler-less hunt would simply be giving hunters who didn't get to hunt the first weekend--because they had to work, or they were in another part of the state--to fill a tag they already have," said Holtz. "So the odds of it having a significantly negative impact on the herd from a population management standpoint, I would consider them pretty low."
Republicans Tom Tiffany, Rob Swearingen, and Mary Czaja disagree. They say last year's late winter and high number of predators hurt the deer.
Now, legislators believe this year's early winter weather will continue to hurt the herd.
"My office in Madison, Representative Mary Czaja from Tomahawk, and certainly Senator Tiffany, have been receiving a lot of comments from frustrated sportsman regarding the low harvest of the deer season this year," said Rob Swearingen, Wisconsin State Representative. "As well as with the natural predators out there, and the early on set of icy conditions, we're worried that all of this together is going to create the perfect storm and take it's toll on these deer."
In August, two deer management units over-issued about 350 antler-less deer permits.
The DNR says it got about 254 of those permits back.
Last year in Oneida County, 74 deer were shot during the antler-less deer season.
Antler-less deer hunting is open from December 12 through December 15.
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