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Ship program questioned by federal watchdog groupSubmitted: 08/21/2013
Story By Associated Press

MILWAUKEE - A federal watchdog agency questions a program that benefits a shipyard in Marinette.

The U.S. Navy's is spending 40-billion dollars on the littoral combat ship program.

It supports more than 12-hundred jobs in Wisconsin and pumps millions of dollars into the state's economy.

The Government Accountability Office is questioning whether the warships perform as expected.

Two key lawmakers are also raising questions.

Marinette Marine, based in Marinette, has already built two ships.

Four others are under construction.

They're designed for quick modification.

For example, a ship's anti-submarine package could be quickly swapped out for a mine-warfare package.

But the GAO says the completed ships aren't performing as expected.

The Navy says it's not giving up the program.

It wants 52 of the high-speed warships over 15 years, at a cost of over 40-billion dollars.

(Copyright 2013 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)

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 IN OTHER NEWS

APPLETON - Tuition and debt have jumped at Wisconsin's technical colleges, which are supposed to provide a more affordable option for career training than four-year universities or for-profit schools.

The Post-Crescent reports that U.S. Department of Education figures show many tech school students are facing bigger financial challenges than a few years ago.

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STATEWIDE - City, county, and town leaders hope you Turn Out for Transportation Thursday night.  Seventy-one of the state's 72 counties will hold public forums for people to learn more about the state's transportation budget.

The idea for the forums comes from the "Just Fix It" campaign, which many counties have supported to encourage state lawmakers to find a better way to pay for roadwork.

You can find the location and time for your county's meeting via the link below.

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EAGLE RIVER - Highway workers do a dangerous job, working alongside traffic with very little protection.  A new state law could make those jobs a little safer.

A hand-held cellphone ban for work zones starts statewide Saturday.  Drivers cannot make or answer phone calls while in work zones unless they use Bluetooth or some sort of earpiece.

Vilas County Highway Commissioner Nick Scholtes calls the law change a great thing for the state.

"The ones that are on their phones, they seem a little oblivious to what we are doing there at the time," Scholtes said.  "They're going through the motions coming through the work zone but it's actually very scary at the same time because if they needed to stop quickly don't know if they could."

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BOULDER JUNCTION - Downtown Boulder Junction could look a little different in a few years. The Boulder Junction Town Board voted 2 to 1 to move onto the design phase of a town plaza project Tuesday night.

The design will cost about $25,000. Town Supervisor Dennis Duke said the plaza could have things like bathrooms, wifi, and places to sit.

Duke thinks the plaza would get people to spend more time downtown.

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ANTIGO - The rain this summer put a damper on some people's outdoor plans, but it was great for potato farmers.

The rainfall made this one of best growing seasons in Wisconsin's history, but now that rainfall is delaying harvesting.

Potato growers can't dig up potatoes when they're wet because they won't store well.

But if they wait too long growers run the risk of the crops getting damaged by frost.

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FLORENCE - In Florence County, more people work in forestry-related jobs than in any other industry.

"It's unbelievable, the way I put it," said logger Jaden Streu. "There are a lot, a lot of jobs and a lot of people that are retiring."

Streu graduated from Florence High School this spring and immediately went to work for his family's business, CTL Timber Harvesting.

Streu was among the presenters at Wednesday's Log-A-Load educational day at Florence.

"I think the big thing is, this industry is changing, from some of the equipment [the students] saw that was working here today. It's highly technical equipment," Florence District Administrator Ben Niehaus said.

"My favorite station was the sawmill," said Florence fourth grader Hannah Holdaway. "I didn't know that they cut it with a machine. I thought they just cut it with a saw."

"I think they leave here with a whole different perspective of, 'Wow, this isn't just a chainsaw and something that looks like a bulldozer that picks wood up and decks it on a log truck. There's a lot more to it,'" Niehaus said.

People like Streu would like to leave a positive impression of the forestry industry on students.

"We hope that they leave [saying], 'This ain't bad. This is a good thing,'" he said.

Hopefully, as Streu sees it, some of these learners will someday become his coworkers in the forest.

"We need the younger generation to come in, like me, to take it over and keep it going," Streu said. "It's a family business and I can have kids, hopefully, and be able to show them and bring them up in it and keep it going generations after generations."

Students from both Florence and Wabeno came to the Log-A-Load day.

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MARENISCO - The saga of a potential Northwoods water bottling plant may end in the Upper Peninsula.

Throughout the year, plans to build a water-bottling plant--first in Minocqua, then in Presque Isle--failed.
But the plant popped up again in Marenisco, Michigan.

"We're all just happy it's here," said Marenisco Township Chairman Richard Bouvette. "We're pretty excited Presque Isle turned it down."

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