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NEWS STORIES

Testimony at final Common Core public hearing stretches into seventh hourSubmitted: 10/30/2013
Story By Lex Gray

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WAUSAU - Teachers started putting Common Core standards to work in Wisconsin classrooms three years ago.

No one really seemed to pay attention Wisconsin had adopted the standards along with 44 other states, in part to qualify for billions of dollars in federal Race to the Top grants.

But in the last few months, legislators from Wisconsin and other states started looking more closely at Common Core.

Governor Scott Walker told reporters in late September he believed Wisconsin could do better than federal Common Core standards.

Over the last few weeks, special Senate and Assembly committees have held four public hearings to decide if that's true.

The last of those four hearings happened in Wausau Wednesday, with testimony lasting more than seven hours.

The debate about Common Core, across the nation and in Wausau, has been marked by a different kind of bipartisanship it's not liberals on one side, conservatives on the other. Both sides are both for and against the standards.

Michael Petrilli is the executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

He spoke in favor of Common Core standards.

"There [are] plenty of Republicans who like the idea of higher standards and tougher accountability," Petrilli said. "From our perspective, the Common Core standards are exactly that."

Pete Biolo, a retired teacher and the vice chairman of the Oneida County Republican Party, doesn't necessarily disagree with that. He takes issue with Common Core because of federal involvement.

"It's a process or a program that has its roots at the federal level, and the federal government, in passing it, made federal monies available," Biolo said. "Any time you have federal monies available to something, you have strings attached."

Petrilli rejects that idea.

"I think the benefits of having better standards, better tests, outweigh those concerns," Petrilli said.

Biolo disagrees, and wants Wisconsin to create its own set of standards, to get the federal government out. Governor Walker has also recently said the state could do better on its own.

"If the governor can do better than these standards, I think that's great," Petrilli said. "I think what he would find is if he went through the process of recreating standards, they'd come out quite the same as the Common Core."

The Senate and Assembly's special committees are expected to make a recommendation in November about what Wisconsin should do about Common Core.

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RHINELANDER - A Dunkin Donuts will open soon in Rhinelander. Plenty of people are excited for the new restaurant, but businesses nearby also hope to benefit from the new eatery.

Dunkin' Donuts plans to open next Tuesday on Lincoln Street across the street from Home Depot. Friday was a test day for the company.

The opening could mean more business for its neighbors.

The owner for Spotlight Studios plans to have more advertisement after it opens.

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Convicted sex offender to be released in NorthwoodsSubmitted: 08/01/2014

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RHINELANDER - A man convicted of breaking into a 15-year old girl's basement and sexually assaulting her will move to Rhinelander when he's released from prison.

26-year-old Jason L. Mullen will be released from prison August 5th. He'll move into a transitional living home in Rhinelander.

Mullen broke into a basement window of an Oneida County home. A 15-year-old girl he knew lived there. He told her he had a knife and sexually assaulted her. It turns out he didn't have a knife.

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Barbeque lovers come to the northwoods this weekend for Submitted: 08/01/2014

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ST. GERMAIN - In the south, you can find barbeque on every corner. Up here it's not that easy... But if you're craving it, you can head to Pig in the Pines this weekend.

It's the 10th annual year of the event in St. Germain. There are award winning ribs, live music and family friendly attractions to enjoy.

Barbeque lovers from across the midwest are drawn to Pig in the Pines...and of course everything is finger licking good.

"It does help the community," says St. Germain Chamber Director Penny Wiesmann. "It draws people from all over the Midwest. We have people talking about; this is their fourth or fifth annual year. The smells are incredible. You don't know where to go. You don't know if you should get ribs or pork or brisket or the corn. Try everything. Eat all day long."

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Minocqua Chamber names new directorSubmitted: 08/01/2014

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MINOCQUA - The Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce will welcome a new executive director later this month.

Krystal Westfahl will start at the chamber August 21st. She'll replace Kim Baltus who left to join the Howard Young Foundation.

Westfahl comes to the Northwoods from Appleton. That's where she has been in charge of fundraising for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Wisconsin for the past seven years. Before that, she worked as director of the Sampson State Park World War II Military Museum in Upstate New York.

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UW Trout Lake Station holds open houseSubmitted: 08/01/2014

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BOULDER JUNCTION - UW Trout Lake leaders want people to get interested in science. They invited people to come out and see what it's like to be a researcher at the Trout Lake Station in Boulder Junction.

More than 230 people showed up to the open house. People got the chance to go on a boat ride, learn about sampling and learn more about invasive species.

"The open house is a wonderful forum for us to be able to invite the community in and let them know what we're doing," says UW Trout Lake Station Director Tim Kratz. "Have a discussion about the kinds of research that we're doing on lakes, to hear the concerns or questions that people might have and just to enjoy a beautiful day on Trout Lake."

They also had activities for the kids.

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MARINETTE COUNTY - New dash cam video from a police chase in Marinette County last Thursday afternoon shows just how dangerous the situation was for drivers on the road. 43-year-old Robb DeGroot of Green Bay was crossing lanes into traffic and also shooting at other cars along the way.

Audio released by the Marinette County Sheriff's Office shows the confusion and fear from drivers getting shot at by DeGroot.

"He just fired out the window again," said the Illinois man that called police about the July 25 incident.

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They think cooler temperatures helped some of their crops stay healthy.

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