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NEWS STORIES

Teacher accused of selling pot got 'glowing recommendations' during hiring processSubmitted: 11/14/2013
Story By Lex Gray

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RHINELANDER - Police searched a Rhinelander High School teacher's house because they thought he had been stealing equipment from the school.

They say that's when they found 66 marijuana plants and a sophisticated grow operation. Since we reported that story last week, people have been asking how Joshua Juergens got hired in the first place.

"We got glowing recommendations," said superintendent Kelli Jacobi. "I don't know that those were all completely honest."

Superintendent Kelli Jacobi says the district did a background check on Juergens. That check turned up a record, as does a simple online search of Wisconsin's online court records.

In 2010, Juergens was convicted of disorderly conduct. In 1997, he was convicted of marijuana possession, both misdemeanors.

"We did know that there was a drug issue, a misdemeanor, I believe he was 19," Jacobi said. "We look at patterns in behavior. If something is a recurring thing in a background check, that definitely signals a problem."

But Jacobi says she can't factor certain convictions into the hiring process.

For now, Juergens is on unpaid leave from his teaching job. He'll stay in the Oneida County Jail unless he can come up with his $2,000 bail or get into a treatment facility.

He returns to court November 21.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Downtown Rhinelander debuts Holiday Open House SaturdaySubmitted: 11/21/2014

RHINELANDER - The opening of the gun deer season often leaves wives and girlfriends at home on their own.

Downtown Rhinelander hopes it can attract many of those women, and maybe even some men, to get started on holiday shopping.

The first-ever Holiday Open House on Saturday will feature sales, special events, and demonstrations at several businesses.

Its timing falls perfectly with the hunting season.

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Wisconsin faces $2.2 billion budget shortfall Submitted: 11/21/2014

MADISON - Governor Scott Walker's administration says Wisconsin faces a $2.2 billion budget shortfall by mid-2017, a problem that will have to be tackled by the Republican-controlled Legislature next year as Walker is building his resume for a potential presidential run.

The estimate released Thursday by the state Department of Administration is required under the law. It takes into account spending requests made by state agencies for the next two years.

The figures will be further refined by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau in January.

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Wisconsin Chippewa band joins effort to return reservation land to tribal ownershipSubmitted: 11/21/2014

ODANAH - An American Indian band in northern Wisconsin will join an effort to get land on reservations returned to tribal ownership.

The U.S. Interior Department says the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe will join the program.

It's among 21 Indian communities in 12 states that will become part of the land buyback program by 2017.

That brings the number of locations in the program to 42.

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Log truck and compact car collideSubmitted: 11/20/2014

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NEAR RHINELANDER - A semi-truck carrying logs and a compact car collided this morning on highway 17 near Rhinelander.

The crash happened on Highway 17 at the intersection of Cross Country Road across from the Cross Country Bar and Grill in Rhinelander around 8 this morning. At this time, the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

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Drew's Piggly Wiggly welcoming new ownersSubmitted: 11/20/2014

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MERRILL - The Drew family will pass its Piggly Wiggly grocery store on to a new family soon.

Brothers Steve and Phil Drew own Drew's Piggly Wiggly in Merrill.

Their family has had a grocery store in Merrill since 1944.

They've owned the Piggly Wiggly for 25 years.

For the Drews, it's always been about family.

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Demmer Library celebrates a milestoneSubmitted: 11/20/2014

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THREE LAKES - Young kids in Three Lakes didn't get to go to kindergarten back in the 1960s. It wasn't offered. So, some community leaders wanted to find a way to prepare children for school.

They created Story Hour at the Demmer Library in 1964 to help. Parents and community members saw it as a way to help children learn to socialize and work in a classroom setting.

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Eagle River sees 91% milfoil reduction in chain; planners credit local commission & volunteersSubmitted: 11/20/2014

EAGLE RIVER - You can call the Eagle River Chain's invasive species project a success so far. Eurasian water milfoil has been reduced by 91.3 percent since 2007, but work isn't done.

Eddie Heath, aquatic ecologist for Onterra LLC has been working on the project. Onterra is the firm that does the planning for the Unified Lower Eagle River Chain of Lakes Commission. He say the success is above and beyond what they've seen on other lakes across the state, and it has served as a model for other systems.

"By which we learn from some mistakes, we build upon some successes, and we move forward in an adaptive management strategy," Heath said.

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