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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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/22/2014

- Oneida and Lincoln are among 19 counties statewide that will ask voters if Wisconsin should accept federal money to expand BadgerCare. We'll look at the question tonight.

- Cooler temperatures helped the state use less water in 2013 than it did in 2012. The state DNR found Wisconsin's groundwater and surface withdrawals dropped by 6 percent from the year before.

- And practical shooting gives people the chance to practice in real-life situations. You can find a number of teams across Wisconsin. We'll take a look at one group in Rhinelander and how the sport helps them practice, and build friendships. That's tonight on Newswatch 12 at Six.

We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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Spending less on HalloweenSubmitted: 10/22/2014

RHINELANDER - The average person will spend $77 this year on Halloween costumes, decorations, and candy.

The Goodwill in Rhinelander hopes you'll look good for much less. Goodwill has Halloween items like hats, trick-or-treat baskets to full costumes.

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Water weevils not effective option in fighting EWMSubmitted: 10/22/2014

NORTHWOODS - Earlier this summer, scientists thought they may have found a new way of fighting one Northwoods invasive species.

Water weevils are native to the Northwoods. Scientists hoped the weevils could kill invasive Eurasian water milfoil.

It turns out the weevils do kill milfoil, but the beetles are not very efficient.

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Asian carp DNA found in Green Bay's Fox RiverSubmitted: 10/22/2014

GREEN BAY - Wisconsin wildlife officials say Asian carp DNA has been found in the Fox River in downtown Green Bay.

The state Department of Natural Resources says a single positive sample for silver carp was identified from 200 samples taken this summer in the Fox, a tributary of Lake Michigan.

The discovery by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was in the heart of the city, and was part of a survey that started at the mouth of the river and ended about five miles upstream.

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20 flu-related hospitalizations in Wisconsin so far in OctoberSubmitted: 10/22/2014

MADISON - State health officials say the flu season is off to a strong start in Wisconsin.

State epidemiologist Thomas Haupt says influenza hospitalizations have been unexpectedly on the rise in October. 20 people have been hospitalized in the past three weeks. Haupt tells WISN-TV (http://bit.ly/1wo5JOD ) one or two hospitalizations are common this time of year, but not 20.

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3 teens dead after crash in Shawano County Submitted: 10/22/2014

SHAWANO COUNTY - Three teens died after a two-car accident in Shawano County Tuesday evening.

The Shawano County Sheriff's Office responded to a call about a two-car crash along Highway 22, north of Friendship Road in the Town of Bell Plaine.

A white car was heading northbound on Highway 22 and lost control while trying to cross into the southbound lane. The passenger in that car was hit by an oncoming SUV driving, also traveling southbound.

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Deer councils to release their first recommendations soonSubmitted: 10/22/2014

MADISON - New county deer councils in Wisconsin will soon release their first recommendations.

Forming the councils was a key part of the recommendations made by Wisconsin's deer czar.

Texas researcher James Kroll came up with the ideas in 20-12 to help the Department of Natural Resources improve deer management.

The councils are scheduled to release their preliminary recommendations next month.

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