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NEWS STORIES

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


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
Candidates spar over Ebola, mining, minimum wage and other national topics during debateSubmitted: 10/29/2014

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WAUSAU - Candidates for the 7th Congressional District debated over topics like mining, jobs, Ebola, healthcare, and other issues in Wausau Wednesday night.

Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin) and Kelly Westlund (D-Ashland) are running for the 7th Congressional District seat. The district covers part of 20 counties across northern Wisconsin.

The area lags behind the rest of the state economically. That was one of the reasons mining was a topic of focus. The Gogebic Taconite project would involve a four mile open pit mine in Iron and Ashland County. The project could mean more than 600 jobs with other secondary jobs connected to the mine.

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Sex offender charged for allegedly making booklet filled with photos of young girlsSubmitted: 10/29/2014

MINOCQUA - A Rhinelander sex offender could go back to prison.

Albert Chagnon allegedly made a booklet filled with photos of young Northwoods girls while he was still in prison in Oshkosh.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office had a community meeting Wednesday. Parents at the meeting were given details about the booklet.

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Town board postpones decision on Conover-Phelps Trail projectSubmitted: 10/29/2014

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CONOVER - The future of the Conover-Phelps Trail project remains in question.

The Conover Town Board was expected to decide Wednesday night whether to continue with its original plan, back out of, or change an agreement that would fund part of the trail in order to allow ATV use.

Instead, the board decided to meet next week to look at alternatives.

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Police search for man who shot at off-duty officerSubmitted: 10/29/2014

MILWAUKEE - Police are looking for the gunman who fire shots at an off-duty officer in Milwaukee.

Authorities say the 52-year-old University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee officer witnessed a traffic accident Tuesday about 5:30 p.m. and following the striking vehicle which had left the scene. At one point the male suspect got out of his car and showed a handgun.

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Wisconsin study to probe farm kids' allergiesSubmitted: 10/29/2014

MARSHFIELD, WI - Marshfield Clinic researchers are enrolling pregnant Wisconsin farmers in a study of children's allergies and asthma.

News-Herald Media reports (http://mnhne.ws/1FSghvR ) the clinic's National Farm Medicine Center plans to enroll about 100 expectant mothers who live on farms and 100 non-farm women. The center will work with the University of Wisconsin's asthma and allergy research center to track kids' development of allergies and respiratory infections for two years, starting before the babies are born.

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Man hurt in Wausau stabbingSubmitted: 10/29/2014

WAUSAU - A stabbing in Wausau put one man in the hospital, and another in jail.

Police report there was a dispute between two men who are related to each other. Things escalated and one man stabbed the other Tuesday night.

A 39 year old was taken to Aspirus Hospital where he's in stable condition. A 29 year old relative is in the Marathon County Jail.

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Rapture Education Group hosts Halloween eventSubmitted: 10/29/2014

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ANTIGO - The Rapture Education Group will give a special presentation on owls on Halloween (Friday). The meeting will be geared for children and adults. Live owls will be at the event and three of them will be released in the wild at the end of the meeting.

"We get all the species you can find in Wisconsin, they come in for rehab," said Director of Education Abbey Krumrie. "We get a lot of baby owls in during the spring and we have foster parents that help take care of them.
So that's what we have to release on Halloween."

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