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NEWS STORIES

Rural Schools Task Force recommendations expected by AprilSubmitted: 03/09/2014

Lauren Stephenson
5 p.m. Anchor/Reporter
lstephenson@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - Superintendents at rural schools face challenges like growing poverty, declining enrollment, and high transportation costs.

The State Assembly formed the Rural Schools Task Force to find ways to help.

12 members of the State Assembly make up the task force.

They've traveled to schools around the state for the last six months.

They made two stops in the Northwoods.

The task force turned to superintendents, business leaders, and other community members to learn more about the challenges the schools and communities face.

The state did increase funding for schools in their most recent
budget.

But some rural school superintendents said the $150 per student budget increase this year wasn't enough.

They want the state's funding formula to change.

"Initially when we brought the task force together, the task force was charged to find solutions that didn't necessarily - weren't fiscal. And so what we found is these school districts are doing the best they can with the money they have. And unfortunately, a lot of these solutions will be fiscal. And so that could potentially be pointing to the next budget cycle," said Republican Rep. Rob Swearingen of Rhinelander, the Rural Schools Task Force Chair.

He says high transportation costs, poor broadband service, declining enrollment and lower teacher retention rates will most likely be addressed in the recommendations.

"The report is going to be generated hopefully here in the next week or so by legislative council. And then the task force will get a chance to look at the report and give our final recommendations to Speaker Vos."

The report is expected to come out at the end of this month or the beginning of April.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

STAR LAKE - Three people remain in the hospital after a car crossed the center line on County Highway K in Star Lake on Saturday.

The Vilas County Sheriff's Office got the call of an accident around 3:45pm Saturday.

51-year-old Eric Sather of Conover was heading east when he crossed the center line and hit another car. 67-year-old John Schroeder from New Holstein and his wife, Jane, were in the other car.

One male driver was flown to Aspirus Hospital in Wausau, while the female passenger was taken to Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff. The other male driver was taken to Eagle River Memorial Hospital and later flown to Marshfield.

Alcohol may be a factor in the crash.

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WISCONSIN DELLS - A 21-year-old Chicago man who went missing in the Wisconsin River near the Wisconsin Dells remains missing.

Police in Columbia County are using sonar to try and find his body. Police say the man went under water around 7:15pm on Saturday while swimming to shore and didn't resurface.

Divers worked until midnight to find the man. Search efforts continued Sunday morning. Police say the man was fishing on a rock island area and appeared to get caught in a current while swimming back to shore.

Family members and witnesses tried to help him but couldn't. The victim's name is not being released at this time.

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ST. GERMAIN - There might not be snow on the ground right now, but that doesn't mean people can't enjoy snowmobiles. 

More than 5,000 people were in St. Germain on Sunday for the Classic Sled Roundup. 

The Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain organized the event.

This is the 11th year of the event. 

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TOMAHAWK - Thousands of people came out Sunday to see the Main Street Memories Car Show in Tomahawk.

People from as far as Minnesota came to see about 300 cars.

Tomahawk Main Street Inc. hosted the show, which has been going on for 21 years. Adults and kids came out to see many different cars, the oldest being a 101-year-old 1914 Model T Ford.

Cars ranged in color and style.

"This is a 1937 three quarter truck, military vehicle," said American Legion Post Commander Lowell Liberty. "It holds the capacity of two guys in the front, and six, or an infantry squad in the back."

Kids could also enjoy a petting zoo and games throughout the afternoon. Car owners hope more people come and enjoy the show next year.

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RHINELANDER - Many people in the Northwoods got the chance to try out canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards this weekend.

Mel's Trading Post held a paddle demo day in Rhinelander.

Anyone could come out to Hodag Park to try out the equipment.

The store's owner thinks it's good for people to try boats out before buying them. 

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LAND O' LAKES - The Land O Lakes Area Artisans (LOLA) Center went through some remodeling for its classroom.

After a few months, the classroom is finally finished, and it's being dedicated to a woman who left a big impact on the community.

Friends and family got together to remember Sandra Brown, who shared her love of art with the Land O Lakes community. She passed away in 2010.

Sandra gave her time and skills to areas that didn't have art programs, and they found a way to show their appreciation.

"The space has been enlarged greatly," said LOLA President Lynn Richie. "It was a coffee shop originally. And it's being dedicated to Sandra Hardy Brown, who was instrumental in bringing us money through a memorial fund when she passed away, and it helped kick start our art classes."

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WOODRUFF - Two events in Woodruff helped raise money for two local groups.

On Saturday there was a craft fair and car show at the Woodruff Town Hall.

The Dr. Kate Museum organized the craft fair.

The money made went to a scholarship the museum gives out.

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