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NEWS STORIES

Democrats explore ways to make tuition, college debt more manageable in northcentral WisconsinSubmitted: 09/16/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


WAUSAU - Student loans saddle Americans with more than $1 trillion of debt.

Meanwhile, college costs continue to rise steadily.

University of Wisconsin System tuitions increased about 20% in the last five years alone.

The tuition and debt problem hits students and graduates hard.

"If you have a four-year degree in the state of Wisconsin, you're paying for 18.7 years on your student loan. If you have a two-year degree, it's 16.7," says One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross.

"It's ridiculous. I'm just trying to get a degree, I'm just trying to get a job. I'm going to be paying for this job essentially for the rest of my life. It's like indentured servitude to the state," says UW-Marathon County Student Government President Cole Harder.

Wisconsin Legislative Democrats have made fighting high college costs and student debt levels a priority.

They took their message to UW-Marathon County today.

They believe those financial challenges hurt Wisconsin's larger economy.

"It's critical for us, both now and in the future. We don't want to see students coming out with huge amounts of debt burden that they're prohibited from buying a home, or from living the American dream like their parents have," says Stevens Point Democratic Sen. Julie Lassa.

Wisconsin Democrats hope to draw attention to the tuition and debt issue.

Their actual effectiveness in writing bills might be limited.

They remain in the minority in both the Senate and Assembly.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

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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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.

The market attracts nearly 400 vendors every week. Vendors showcase everything from homemade crafts and artwork to plants and homemade treats.

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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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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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RHINELANDER - A local outdoor sports club hopes the second annual RASTA (Rhinelander Area Silent Trails Association) Rally at Washburn Lake will be even more successful than the first. This Sunday's mountain bike races are some of the earliest in the year in the Northwoods.

Bikers will race on the trails at Washburn Lake west of Rhinelander. Multiple races target different experience levels of mountain bikers, from beginner to expert.

The money raised goes to RASTA projects like trail grooming and maintenance. Races start at 1pm on Sunday. Click the link below for more information.

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TOMAHAWK - Thousands of people came out Sunday to see the Main Street Memories Car Show in Tomahawk.

People from as far as Minnesota came to see about 300 cars.

Tomahawk Main Street Inc. hosted the show, which has been going on for 21 years. Adults and kids came out to see many different cars, the oldest being a 101-year-old 1914 Model T Ford.

Cars ranged in color and style.

"This is a 1937 three quarter truck, military vehicle," said American Legion Post Commander Lowell Liberty. "It holds the capacity of two guys in the front, and six, or an infantry squad in the back."

Kids could also enjoy a petting zoo and games throughout the afternoon. Car owners hope more people come and enjoy the show next year.

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