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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
Locals get a good seat waving goodbye to visitorsSubmitted: 09/01/2014

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HAZELHURST - Tourists make a big economic impact in the Northwood, but they don't stay forever. Monday, locals thanked them for coming to the Northwoods this summer.

People stood outside of Whitman's Bar and Grill just off of Highway 51 in Hazelhurst to wave goodbye. The bar has been doing this for 44 years.

One of the owners says this isn't just a party for the tourists, but for locals as well.

"It's also a goodbye summer party for a lot of the locals. Most of the people that come, I know," said Whitman's Bar and Grill co-owner, Mary Whitman. "They may be tourists that come up for a week or weekends, but it's a party. We give away free street corn, free sloppy joes and it's just a thank you.

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Lakeshore communities could be marine sanctuariesSubmitted: 09/01/2014

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MANITOWOC - Lakeshore communities from Two Rivers to Port Washington will able to apply for marine-sanctuary status, which could lead to protections for natural resources and improved research on shipwrecks.

An HTR Media report (http://htrne.ws/1lrd3Ix ) says the 875-square-mile area encompasses 33 known shipwrecks and countless others.

Sanctuaries are established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Agency spokeswoman Ellen Brody says she expects the first applications to begin arriving in the fall.

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One person injured in Rhinelander crash Monday evening Submitted: 09/01/2014

RHINELANDER - A person got hurt during a one car crash near Rhinelander today.

The crash happened on North Shore Drive east of Rhinelander around 4pm.

Only one person was in the car.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office, Town of Pelican Fire Department and the Oneida County EMS were at the crash.

We don't know the cause of the crash yet.

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Special chair offers people with disabilities new opportunitiesSubmitted: 09/01/2014

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RHINELANDER - It can be difficult to get around the Northwoods, especially in the snow. For people with physical disabilities, it can seem almost impossible. A new piece of technology changed Bob Simon's life. Now he's hoping to help others with physical disabilities enjoy the outdoors.

"I used to love to hunt and fish," he said.

But when Simon, who is from Rhinelander, lost his legs during a work accident in 2008, he didn't know if he'd be able to enjoy the outdoors again.

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Fewer people at Merrill's Labor Day Car Show because of weather Submitted: 09/01/2014

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MERRILL - You wouldn't find as many people at this year's car show in Merrill compared to years past.

The car show usually gets about 2,000 people each year.

Organizers say they got about half of that this year because of the weather.

The Merrill Lions Club organizes the event.

This is one of the group's biggest fundraisers of the year.

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Manufacturer to move from Prentice to PhillipsSubmitted: 09/01/2014

PRICE COUNTY - The expansion of Northcentral Technical College's Phillips campus helped persuade one manufacturing company to move closer to the campus.

OEM Fabricators will move its Price County facility from Prentice to Phillips.

All 28 employees will also move to the larger shop, which will focus on welding.

The company's president said the tech college's manufacturing expansion factored into the decision.

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Kids enjoy candy at Merrill's Labor Day ParadeSubmitted: 09/01/2014

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MERRILL - The rainy weather didn't stop some dedicated people from coming out to Merrill's Labor Day Parade.

People showed up with rain coats and umbrellas to enjoy their favorite floats.

The kids at the parade were looking forward to the candy.

"If there's no candy I'm not coming," says Nicholas Kriegel.

Leila Linnell got a lot of candy at the parade.

"There's a lot of people who just like throw out all this candy. I got three of these gigantic suckers. And it's like awesome," says Linnell.

Click on watch video to see the rest of the story.

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