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NEWS STORIES

Iron mine could help rail service push in NorthwoodsSubmitted: 11/22/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - A group representing more than a dozen northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan counties would love to see increased rail service in their areas.

The Northwoods Rail Transit Commission believes an iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills would dramatically help their efforts.

The Commission formed last year to push for better freight rail service in the North.

Service by rail companies has slowed or stopped in many areas of the Northwoods.

Rail companies often say there's not enough freight to make service profitable for them.

An operating iron ore mine would increase freight traffic heavily.

"You can see what happened with frac sand mining in the Chippewa (Falls) area. If that mine becomes operational and starts shipping ore, a lot of that could come east toward the port in Escanaba. That will help give reason and volume to reopen that Highway 8 line that we're talking about," says Northwoods Rail Transit Commission Chair Wendy Gehlhoff at a meeting of the Commission Friday in Rhinelander.

Most of the rail line that hugs Highway 8 from Ladysmith to Pembine currently sits unused.

The Canadian National railway shut down service, saying it wasn't profitable.

The director of Michigan Tech University's Rail Transportation Program addressed the Commission Friday.

He stressed that for a rail company to operate, it needs to see a way to make money on carrying freight in a certain area.

"If we have high volumes, low value, long distance - if you don't look at rail or intermodal, you're absolutely nuts. It has to be in the equation, or you're not going to be able to compete with the other regions of this nation or other nations," said Dr. Pasi Lautala.

The Commission's next task is to get better information from companies on how they would use rail service, if it was available.

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

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IRON COUNTY, MICHIGAN - State troopers in Upper Michigan arrested two people after reports of an explosion and gunfire in Iron County.

It happened around 12:30 yesterday afternoon at a home in Mastadon Township.

The investigation showed two people tried to bring down a structure using fireworks and a large amount of tannerite.

That's an explosive primarily used to make exploding targets.

Commercial grade fireworks, a large quantity of tannerite, and "pipe bomb" type explosives were seized.

Charges are being sought against the two people involved.

(Copyright 2015 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)

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TOMAH - The troubled Tomah Veterans Administration Medical Center will be making changes to address staff shortages.

The VA will be temporarily closing hospital's 11-bed inpatient psychiatric unit.

It has stopped admitting new patients.

The VA's Matthew Gowan believes the two patients currently in the unit likely will be discharged before the September 4th closure.

Any veteran requiring psychiatric treatment will be transferred to VA facilities in Madison and Milwaukee, or to non-VA hospitals.

Tomah VA Medical Center also plans to suspend psychiatric admissions to its residential long-term care facility until additional staff are hired.

The nursing home will continue admitting veterans with non-psychiatric needs.

Hours for the Urgent Care clinic will be permanently reduced.

(Copyright 2015 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)

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WISCONSIN - You can spend a day in the water and help protect Wisconsin waterways this weekend. The Wisconsin River Alliance needs volunteers to find aquatic invasive species. It's for the second statewide AIS Bridge Snapshot Day Saturday.

"We want to pay attention to our streams and creeks in the area here," said Oneida County AIS Coordinator Michele Sadauskas. "We're picking bridge crossings and road crossings just for access. Easy access for people to go down and see if they can find and take a look at any invasive species right in that area. "

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DES MOINES, IA - Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker says the proper response to the on-air shootings in Virginia is "more sophisticated and challenging" than the gun control measures Hillary Rodham Clinton has proposed.

Clinton said Wednesday outside of Des Moines that if guns weren't so readily available, perhaps carnage like the killings of WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by a disgruntled former employee could be prevented.

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SARATOGA - Search warrants filed in Wood County show the teenager accused of fatally shooting a woman had been dating the victim's daughter who ended a relationship with the boy the day her mother was killed.

Gannett Central Wisconsin Media (http://wrtnews.co/1hIc8TK ) reports the warrants describe the events that led to the death of 47-year-old Theresa Coates at her home in Saratoga Aug. 17.

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RHINELANDER - The athletic trainer at the School District of Rhinelander will still be able to help student athletes this year. The district got a donation to help keep the trainer on its full-time staff.

The district has used an athletic trainer for a few years now. But before last year, the trainer's services were donated from local hospitals. That means he couldn't always be there for every practice and game.

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