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NEWS STORIES

Rural Schools Task Force holds first public hearingSubmitted: 10/23/2013
Story By Lex Gray

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RHINELANDER - Rural schools face different challenges than schools in suburbs and cities. State legislators say they want to understand what those challenges are, and how they might help.

Local state representative Rob Swearingen chairs the Rural Schools Task Force. Eleven other representatives make up the task force.

Their goal is to create legislation that will help rural schools. Today, the task force listened to superintendents from four local districts.

Their overwhelming message: the school funding formula needs to change. Most Northwoods districts get less state aid because they have high property values.

"It doesn't take into account the ability of our taxpayers to help with the funding of schools," said Kelli Jacobi, superintendent of the School District of Rhinelander. "As our state aid goes down, our taxpayers are expected to pay more, and our taxpayers can't afford to do that."

Swearingen says he hopes house speaker Robin Vos will listen to that. But the funding formula wasn't the purpose of the task force, and it won't be the focus.

"The focus of this group is to make sure the school districts are using the money they have more effectively, so that's part of the discussion. Clearly, the state doesn't have money to just throw at the districts," Swearingen said. "But if we can transfer some of this into categorical aid, something that specifically relates to these rural school problems, maybe we can address some of those financial issues."

Categorical aid could apply to costs like transportation. Three of the four superintendents who spoke today said that would be a big help.

Their districts are geographically large, so they spend huge amounts of money getting kids to and from school. Northland Pines spends $1.3 million every year. Rhinelander spends $1.5 million.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
DNR thinks registering deer online and by phone easier for huntersSubmitted: 10/24/2014

WISCONSIN - The DNR will make changes to how people register deer.

This year they're starting a program allowing hunters to register deer online or by phone.

Only some hunters will take part in the program.

Next year it will be in full effect.

"Right now we're doing a pilot program in 2014, where there's 14,000 people who've been picked to practice this registration. And next year everybody will be able to either register by phone or on the internet. They will still have the opportunity to register at a station as long as there is a telephone or a computer for them," says DNR Conservation Warden Paul Hartrick.

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Partial solar eclipseSubmitted: 10/23/2014

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NORTHWOODS - Most of Northern Wisconsin was too cloudy to make out the partial solar eclipse Thursday evening. A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the earth. The last partial solar eclipse that could be seen in Northern Wisconsin was more than 10 years ago. Calculations for when and where solar eclipses occur are quite precise, according to local astronomer and planetarium owner Frank Kovac.

"The solar system is like a clock," explained Kovac. "We can predict eclipses many years out and it is very geometric, it's very mathematical."

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Grant to help improve Vilas trails appSubmitted: 10/23/2014

VILAS COUNTY - Tourism leaders hope updates to a smartphone app will bring in an extra $350,000 to Vilas County.

The app will now offer GPS services to the county's non-motorized trail app.

Vilas County Tourism & Publicity will pay for it with a nearly $40,000 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant from the state department of tourism.

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Fatal bike-truck crash in Oneida County UpdateSubmitted: 10/23/2014

ONEIDA COUNTY - A truck and a bicyclist collided along US 51 heading southbound near Leary Road early Thursday morning.

We now know the bicyclist has died.

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In-person absentee voting underwaySubmitted: 10/23/2014

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STATEWIDE - You can vote in the upcoming election before November 4th. In-person absentee voting started Monday.

Northwoods clerks say the process has been going smoothly.

Voters don't need a photo ID for this election because the US Supreme Court blocked a law requiring one for this election. But some people have still been confused about whether they need a photo ID.

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Social media app causes problems for Medford High School, app banned from school groundsSubmitted: 10/23/2014

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MEDFORD - A Northwoods high school evacuated earlier this month because of an anonymous message on the social media app called Yik Yak. Someone posted a bomb threat on the app for Medford High School.

That hasn't been the only issue with the app. Some students used the app to anonymously bully their peers.

"People, especially students but even adults too, are much, much braver behind a computer screen," says Medford High School Dean of Students Justin Hraby.

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Appeals court rejects John Doe rehearing requestSubmitted: 10/23/2014

MADISON - A federal appeals court has unanimously rejected a conservative group's request to reconsider a ruling last month tossing a lawsuit challenging an investigation into possible illegal campaign coordination.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected the request from Wisconsin Club for Growth to rehear the case after a three-judge panel last month sided with investigators.

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