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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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BAYFIELD - Authorities in northern Wisconsin say a teenage girl has died in an all-terrain vehicle rollover.

The Bayfield County sheriff's office says the 14-year-old left her home in the Town of Barnes on the ATV Tuesday. She was reported missing around 10 p.m.

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RHINELANDER - Celebrating our nation's birthday with family and friends can be a great time. But it's good to keep safety in mind this weekend too.

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MADISON - A Sun Prairie man accused of decapitating his mother with a sword last year has been committed to a state mental hospital.

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PLUM LAKE - St. Germain ATV riders will need to find a new route that avoids Plum Lake.

That's because the Plum Lake Town Board voted against opening up parts of two roads: Kurtzweil Road and Birch Spring Road. Both are on the border of Sayner and St. Germain and are shared between the two towns.

A few months ago, St. Germain asked Plum Lake to open parts of those roads as part of an ATV route. At first, the Plum Lake Town Board approved them. That was before they found out a section of Kurtzweil Road was completely in Plum Lake.

"At that time the Plum Lake Town Board by a 2 to 1 vote approved letting them use that, assuming at the time the two roads were boundary roads equally shared by Sayner and St. Germain," said Will Maines, the Plum Lake Town Chairman.

So when St. Germain came back to the next town meeting with an ordinance for the roads ready to go, the Plum Lake town board then voted no.

Maines said most of the people in Plum Lake don't want ATVs on their town roads. The board found this out from a survey of residents and taxpayers they sent out in 2015, where he said about two-thirds of non-resident property owners and about two-thirds of Plum Lake resident voters voted against allowing ATVs on town roads.

"We'd like to cooperate with the town of St. Germain, but we represent the people of Plum Lake, and they have given us the message loud and clear: they don't want us to allow them on any section of our roads," Maines said.

The St. Germain Town Chairman Tom Christensen said the decision is "disappointing," but, "it is what it is."

About 6 towns in the eastern part of Vilas County allow ATVs on town roads, but the towns in the western part of the county don't allow them on town roads.

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WAUSAU - Police officers in Wausau will now wear body cameras, according to a department release Wednesday.

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Wednesday, thanks to the help of two ATV groups, the seniors were able to go on rides through the forest.

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