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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

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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
Santa gets extra help from volunteer fire department while delivering presentsSubmitted: 12/21/2014

PINE LAKE - Santa normally gets help from elves to make Christmas presents for kids, but in Pine Lake he had help from a local volunteer fire department Sunday.

The Pine Lake Fire Department normally puts its sirens on in an emergency, but this time it was to help Santa bring joy to families who need it the most.

"It is really neat to see the kids when we come pulling into their driveway and they see Santa Claus getting off the fire truck with a big bag of presents. It is really neat to see their faces," said Operation Ho Ho Ho organizer Lynn Larson.

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Lincoln County Sheriff's Office finds body of missing Merrill man Submitted: 12/21/2014

LINCOLN COUNTY - The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office found the body of a missing Merrill man yesterday afternoon.

Jeffrey Maruska has been missing since early November.

The sheriff's office found his body with the help of cadaver dogs.

Maruska was found in a wooded area east of where he lived.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office is still investigating.

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People in Sugar Camp support local dog rescue organization Submitted: 12/21/2014

SUGAR CAMP - The number of dogs euthanized a year dropped dramatically. The Humane Society of the United States estimates the number of dogs and cats euthanized decreased from 12-20 million to 3-4 million per year, but about 2.7 million healthy sheltered animals aren't adopted.

That's why people in Sugar Camp wanted to keep a rescue organization running.

"It Matters to One" saves dogs from high-kill shelters who are on the euthanasia list. One of the founders of the organization travels to California to rescue the dogs.

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Snowmobile safety class held this weekendSubmitted: 12/21/2014

LAKE TOMAHAWK - Riding a snowmobile can be dangerous if you don't know the rules of the trails.

That's why some people went through a snowmobile safety course on Saturday and Sunday.

The course was held at the Sloan Community Center in Lake Tomahawk.

The New-Tom Snow Fleas and the Oneida County Sheriff's office held the course.

A recreational safety officer from the sheriff's office taught the class.

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Furry friends get pictures with SantaSubmitted: 12/20/2014

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RHINELANDER - Some pet owners view their furry friends as their kids. Like some parents, they want their furry child to get a picture with Santa.

That's exactly what pet owners did Saturday. Pawz and Clawz in Rhinelander put together their second Pet Pictures With Santa event.

Store owner Dan Gallagher says he put this together for a local dog organization.

"That's the primary goal for the event. Just to have a really good time for people to come out and be generous to a really good dog rescue organization 'It Matters To One'," said Gallagher.

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Humane Society blames lead bullets for bald eagle deathSubmitted: 12/20/2014

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MILWAUKEE - One bald eagle has died and another is in serious condition in Wisconsin after ingesting lead from ammunition.

The Dane County Humane Society has treated two bald eagles with lead poisoning in the past two weeks. The birds likely swallowed lead while feeding on deer or other wildlife carcasses that had been shot, or by eating waterfowl that had ingested lead.

The first bald eagle survived only a day after it was brought into a Humane Society facility last week with acute lead poisoning. The Humane Society hopes a second bird found Friday will survive.

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Off-duty bouncer severely beaten in MadisonSubmitted: 12/20/2014

MADISON - An off-duty bouncer at a Madison bar has severe injuries after he was beaten by two customers.

Police say the 21-year-old bouncer at The City Bar was entering the men's restroom early Saturday when he saw two men with a white powdery substance. Police say one of the men ingested the substance.

The bouncer told the men he was going to notify a manager, and he was attacked. The men left with three other males.

Police say the bouncer was taken to a hospital where he was treated for a broken nose, a fractured orbital socket and a facial laceration that required stitches.

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