Proposed bill may put seat belts on school busesSubmitted: 09/19/2013
Story By Ryan Michaels

RHINELANDER - We make sure our kids wear seat belts in the car. So why don't they wear them on the school bus?

Democratic State Senator Tim Cullen, Janesville, wants to change that.

His bill would put three point seat belts on all new school buses. According to Wisconsin Radio Network, Senator Cullen(D) said, "I am amazed that we let those kids roll down the road at 55 miles an hour with no seat belt."

Rhinelander School District Superintendent Kelli Jacobi thinks school bus safety is a priority.

But she says in certain situations, seat belts make the bus less safe. "I'm not opposed to them. I see some very positive things, but what about those scary accidents, the roll overs, the fires. There's no way you could get kids off a bus quickly enough if you have to remove seat belts."

Jacobi says there are other safety measures already in place for some types of accidents. Buses are now installing high seat backs. Those help minimize injuries in front and back collisions.

If the bill passes, many school districts would have to pay for the seat belts. In the Rhinelander School District, Bowen's Bus Service provides the student transportation and did not offer an opinion on the seat belt bill.

But Jacobi says the bus service would have to pay for the seat belts. Which in turn would likely lead to higher service charges, and therefore more tax payer money in the end.

School districts would be able to apply for grants to help with about fifty percent of the cost of the school bus seat belts. But that still averages out to roughly four thousand dollars per bus.

She says there are about ten student deaths from school bus accidents every year. Most injuries involving school buses happen as students are loading and unloading the bus.

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MILWAUKEE - A published report says unauthorized improvements have been made to a footpath on state land that a donor to Gov. Scott Walker has been trying to buy.

A spokesman for business executive Elizabeth Uihlein acknowledged that workers at her adjoining property may have cleaned up the trail slightly.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1Z18WU8 ) reports those who have seen the trail say the improvements are significant.

Uihlein is seeking to buy 1.75 acres along Rest Lake, where the footpath is located. But a tentative deal with the Department of Natural Resources was put on hold after critics raised questions.

A DNR spokesman says the agency inspected the site on Thursday and found an "established trail." He declined to say whether the department had talked to Uihlein or her representatives.

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MERRILL - Merrill residents might have heard a lot of music in town today.

Merrill High School hosted the Merrill Marching Invitational. Three high school marching bands took over the football field at Merrill High School Sunday.

Antigo, D.C. Everest, and Merrill high schools all showcased their musical creativity.

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RHINELANDER - Harvest Hoedown started Saturday at noon at the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander.

The event featured a hay maze, horse-drawn carriage rides, food, and live music all afternoon.

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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

Volunteers at Pointe Basse recreated a historical camp that portrayed the lives of people from the 1700s and early 1800s.

Volunteers from all across the U.S. had a piece of history to share.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

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BOULDER JUNCTION - Lakes bring a lot of visitors here to the Northwoods, but they also bring scientists.

The UW Trout Lake Station in Boulder Junction just wrapped up its summer research season.

The UW Trout Lake Station is a research station for limnology students at UW Madison. It's mostly graduate students and faculty from Madison's Center for limnology.

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RHINELANDER - A Wisconsin brewing company executive wants businesses to hire more veterans.

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