New internet tower will go to referendumSubmitted: 11/14/2013
Story By Lauren Stephenson

PHELPS - You can expect more debate over a new internet tower in Phelps.

Earlier this month, the Phelps town board proposed to build a new $35,000 internet tower.

The tower would cost taxpayers a one time fee of $8 to $16 depending on property value.

It would give internet access to 200 homes in the area.

But opponents believed money could be better spent in the town.

The people of Phelps voted that proposal down at a special meeting 76 to 71.

But the town board decided Monday night to put the proposal to a referendum this April.

"The town clerk and myself had numerous calls from people that wanted to weigh in on it and wanted to absentee ballot vote but by state statute they couldn't. So because it was so close we felt that we ought to put it before the board and see if we could put it as a referendum item in April," says Phelps Town Chairman Colin Snook.

He says the town board heard the concerns of those opposed to the tower.

One is to have the company, not the town, pay for the tower.

That was something Snook opposed before.

"My big concern was, okay what if SonicNet goes out of business? You know, then what? They own the tower. We own the property. It gets to be complicated. So we broached that with SonicNet and they came back and said that they would be happy to in the contract provide the town with the tower should they go out of business," he explains.

Snook says they're working to alter the plan to accommodate those concerns.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/20/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

In the last few years, Northwoods counselors have gotten scientific evidence to force drunk drivers to be truthful. We'll show you how the "BioMarker" project works and update you on the progress of the program in Wisconsin and Oneida County.

We'll bring you a preview of the Level 1 High School postseason football game between Merrill and Rice Lake which takes place tomorrow.

And we'll show you all the hoopla in Green Bay as fans get excited about tonight's big rivalry matchup between the Packers and the Chicago Bears.

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

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MADISON - Wisconsin may be the dairy state, but we've seen a decline in the number of dairy farms.

A report from the federal Agriculture Department shows that Wisconsin lost almost 400 dairy farms in the last year.

About 94-thousand dairy herds were active in the state as of October 1st.

Wisconsin Dairy Business Association President Gordon Speirs says the number of lost farms this year is low compared to previous years.

Annual losses reached as high as 1-thousand in some years.

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MADISON - About 30 percent of all absentee ballots cast in Wisconsin so far come from the state's most heavily Democratic counties.

The latest data posted on the Wisconsin Elections Commission website shows 55,000 ballots cast in Milwaukee and Dane counties.

21,700 have come in from three conservative counties near Milwaukee.

Over 183,000 were cast statewide.

Republican candidates typically must do well in those Milwaukee suburban counties to counter the Democratic votes in Milwaukee and Madison.

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GREEN BAY - MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker says Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has to accept results of the election, even though Trump hasn't said whether he will if Hillary Clinton wins.

WLUK-TV reports Thursday that Walker said following an event in Green Bay that "The bottom line is whether he does or doesn't, there's going to be a new president."

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STELLA - The Northwoods saw more than four inches of rain from the big storm Monday night. All that rain left at least three Oneida County roads washed out, some completely impassable.

You can't get through Tenderfoot Road east of Rhinelander right now. There's about a roughly 15 foot deep crater and 10 foot gap in the road.

Stella Town Supervisor Bob Goodin says the culvert that was once there was washed away from all the rain.

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RHINELANDER - Leaves cover the ground instead of snow, but that doesn't stop Ben Popp from dreaming.

"Hopefully it snows soon," said Popp.

The American Birkebeiner Executive Director visited the Northwoods Nordic Ski Club Wednesday. 

"Rhinelander has just an amazing situation here. We have this great venue out here at CAVOC, the Nordic Ski Club is really strong," Popp said.

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THREE LAKES - With the presidential election right around the corner, voters will be changing history for the United States.

For voters in the town of Three Lakes, they'll also be voting for a library, town office and possibly even a police department reconstruction plan. Wednesday evening, supporters of the Demmer Library came together to inform others in the community about that vote.

Members of the Three Lakes community that are in favor of expanding the Demmer Library joined forces to call every single registered voter in the area. 

"Just informing people about the referendum and for others I've found a lot of support. There are a lot of 'yes' votes out there and we're definitely grateful for that," said supporter Colette Mahlerwein.

For Laura Wipperman, her vote has already been decided.

"I love the idea of a campus kind of concept where people could get from one building to the other easily and share some spaces because I believe that's going to save us money in the long run," said Wipperman.

When voters see their ballots in now less than three weeks, they will also be asked how they feel about the proposed expansion project with the library, town offices and police department.

"I feel very passionate about not only keeping the library in Three Lakes but allowing it to thrive," said Wipperman.

The first question voters will see will be, "Do you support up to nine hundred thousand ($900,000) additional taxpayer dollars being placed on the levy for the Library expansion?"

"A 'yes' vote on question one would have an estimated annual impact of $7/year per $100,000 worth of value on your home for 20 years," said Mahlerwein.

The second question voters will see will be, "Do you support up to 1.8 million additional taxpayer dollars being placed on the levy to replace the existing structure for the Town Office, Police Department and Community Building with a new smaller structure?"

"A 'yes' vote on question two would have an $11 a year increase on your home valued at $100,000 for the next 20 years," said Mahlerwein.

After they crunched the numbers, Mahlerwein's family didn't have to go far to find the money.

"I can find that in spare change at my house. My girls and I actually did a little challenge to see if we could find that in spare change and we did," said Mahlerwein.

For those making phone calls on Wednesday night, their main goal was to educate the voters so that they are prepared to make a decision.

"I hope that it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. I hope that the timing works out well because a presidential election brings out voters and that it will inspire people to vote and that they'll vote 'yes'," said Mahlerwein.

If you still have questions on the proposed plans, please call the Demmer Library at 715-546-3391.

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