NEWS STORIES

Rural Schools Task Force holds first public hearingSubmitted: 10/23/2013

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.

Story By: Lex Gray

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 IN OTHER NEWS
LP conversion of sheriff's cars nears completionSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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VILAS COUNTY - As many as 20 Vilas County Sheriff's patrol cars now run on both liquid propane and gasoline.

That could save the department more than $295,000 over the next 5 years.

The department started converting the cars last November.

A company in Michigan installed 20-gallon propane tanks in the trunks of the cars.

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Northwoods house catches fireSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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TOMAHAWK - A home in Tomahawk caught fire Thursday afternoon.

The fire happened near Lake Alice on Pine Shore Lane.

Police say an elderly couple owned the home, but we don't know if they were home at the time of the fire.

We also don't know how the fire started, but we'll give you more information on the fire when it becomes available.

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Rhinelander food pantry volunteers Submitted: 04/17/2014

RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry relies heavily on volunteers. Here is a look inside the operation.

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Vandals, thieves sack old Sacred Heart Hospital building in TomahawkSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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TOMAHAWK - The old Sacred Heart Hospital building in Tomahawk will be knocked down soon.

Milestone Senior Living will build a new home for seniors on the site.

The old building has been vacant since 2003.

But now, the vandalism and theft in the old hospital has gotten so bad, people there call the situation "disgusting" and "disappointing".

Ernie Winker did plenty of carpentry work inside the hospital.

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Cleaning up the messSubmitted: 04/17/2014

RHINELANDER - Snow blowers became the weapon of choice across northern Wisconsin as snow piled deeper and deeper.

People had ten inches or more of snow to clear from driveways and sidewalks this morning.

Some may have stayed home today.

But those who needed to get out had to move the snow.

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Asian Lady Beetles come out after winteringSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Do bugs seem to be everywhere in your home, even though there's snow outside? One type of bug in Wisconsin spends the winter inside our houses! They look like Lady Bugs, but they are actually not native to this country.

"They're actually called a multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle. They can be anywhere from a pale yellow to a darker orange and they have black spots on them but you'll see some that don't have spots," says Kerri Ison, UW Oneida County Extension.

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Man accused of killing blind wife because she was nagging himSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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MILWAUKEE - A 76-year-old Milwaukee County man has told investigators he shot his blind wife of 56 years because she'd been nagging him for three weeks.

Prosecutors charged Jack Lang of Oak Creek with first-degree intentional homicide Thursday.

Authorities say Lang called 911 on Wednesday to say he'd just shot his wife in the face. Police found June Lang dead near the bed.

Jack Lang told investigators she nagged him and wouldn't shut up, and even though he loved her he'd had enough. He says she criticized him for not being able to help as much with housework.

He says he got his .22 caliber gun and warned her he was holding it inches from her head but she didn't believe him.

Online court records didn't immediately list a defense attorney.

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