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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
Rhinelander Area Scholarship Foundation raffles neon Hodag signSubmitted: 09/18/2014

RHINELANDER - Rhinelander Area Scholarship Foundation is holding the 2014 Neon Hodag Sign Raffle.

Your support will help in raising scholarship money to award more scholarships for RHS graduates annually.

The RASF is a non-profit charitable organization with a volunteer governing board that raises money and distributes scholarships to Rhinelander students, many of whom may not get scholarship support from other sources.

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Middle School students in Merrill work to get rid of invasive speciesSubmitted: 09/18/2014

MERRILL - Students at Prairie River Middle School in Merrill want to enjoy the river behind their school.

They spent time on Tuesday clearing out some of the invasive species along the riverbank.

"They're taking over and we need to get rid of them while there's still time," says 8th grader Morgan Henrichs.

Science teachers at Prairie River Middle School want to teach their students how to get rid of invasive species.

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A serious sequence of events Merrill woman sentenced to prison for role in dangerous heroin overdose Submitted: 09/17/2014

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MERRILL - "It doesn't get any colder than what the defendant did in this case," Lincoln County Assistant District Attorney Kurt Zengler told a judge on Wednesday.

Zengler was talking about the actions of Kristine Woeller, a 21-year-old Merrill woman.

Last October, Woellner didn't stick around to help Tara Bryant.

Woellner had given Bryant heroin and needles in the bathroom at a Merrill gas station.

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Wisconsin one of 4 states to cut food stampsSubmitted: 09/17/2014

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MADISON - Wisconsin is one of only four states nationwide that is enacting cuts to the food stamp program.

An Associated Press review finds that as of now, the cuts will only affect Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey and New Hampshire.

The decision in Wisconsin to enact the cuts comes as Republican Gov. Scott Walker is seeking re-election and considering a 2016 run for president.

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Drug Endangered Children Program in Price CountySubmitted: 09/17/2014

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PRICE COUNTY - Some children in the Northwoods live in environments where their caretakers abuse drugs.

The Price County Sheriff's Office hopes a new program will help those children.

The Drug Endangered Children Program, or DEC, assists children whose caretakers abuse, sell, or manufacture drugs.

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Search continues for missing boater in Kenosha Co.Submitted: 09/17/2014

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KENOSHA - Authorities have been searching a Kenosha County lake for a missing fisherman from Illinois.

The search on Silver Lake began Tuesday night after family members reported 66-year-old John Spoor of McHenry, Illinois, had not returned from his fishing trip. Sheriff's officials located the man's boat, but there was no sign of him.

Kenosha County Sheriff's Sgt. Bill Beth says the department had five boats on the water Wednesday. The search was halted Wednesday evening because of darkness, and the Kenosha News reports search teams are expected to return to the scene Thursday morning.

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Walker, Burke tied in latest pollSubmitted: 09/17/2014

MADISON - The race for Wisconsin governor couldn't be any closer with just seven weeks to go.

The Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke tied among registered voters.

Walker and Burke both had 46 percent support. The poll's margin of error was 3.5 percentage points among registered voters.

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