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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
Watch out for kids as school resumesSubmitted: 09/02/2014

RHINELANDER - Students went back to class in many districts across Wisconsin Tuesday morning.

The Wisconsin State Patrol wants drivers to watch out for them.

Some kids might get to and from school on their bikes.

It's the law to give bikers three feet of space when you're passing them.

You also need to stay 20 feet away from stopped school buses.

Parents should make sure their kids know how to stay safe on their way to and from school.

Kids need to watch out for traffic.

Parents should remind them texting while walking can be a distraction.

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Boy found safe after becoming lost in the woodsSubmitted: 09/02/2014

FLORENCE COUNTY - A family in Florence County needed help finding their three-year-old after he disappeared in the woods Monday.

The boy was missing for nearly two hours Monday morning.

The family was packing up to head home when the boy wandered away around 9:15.

He had walked about a half mile into the woods.

The family says he was very wet but healthy.

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Special chair offers people with disabilities new opportunitiesSubmitted: 09/01/2014

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RHINELANDER - It can be difficult to get around the Northwoods, especially in the snow. For people with physical disabilities, it can seem almost impossible. A new piece of technology changed Bob Simon's life. Now he's hoping to help others with physical disabilities enjoy the outdoors.

"I used to love to hunt and fish," he said.

But when Simon, who is from Rhinelander, lost his legs during a work accident in 2008, he didn't know if he'd be able to enjoy the outdoors again.

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Fewer people at Merrill's Labor Day Car Show because of weather Submitted: 09/01/2014

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MERRILL - You won't find as many people at this year's car show in Merrill compared to years past.

The car show usually gets about 2,000 attendees each year.

Organizers say they got about half of that total this year because of the weather.

The Merrill Lions Club organizes the event.

This is one of the group's biggest fundraisers of the year.

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Locals get a good seat waving goodbye to visitorsSubmitted: 09/01/2014

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HAZELHURST - Tourists make a big economic impact in the Northwoods, but they don't stay forever. Monday, locals thanked them for coming to the Northwoods this summer.

People stood outside of Whitman's Bar and Grill just off of Highway 51 in Hazelhurst to wave goodbye. The bar has marked this occasion for 44 years.

One of the owners says this isn't just a party for the tourists, but for locals as well.

"It's also a Goodbye Summer party for a lot of the locals. Most of the people that come, I know," said Whitman's Bar and Grill co-owner, Mary Whitman. "They may be tourists that come up for a week or weekends, but it's a party. We give away free street corn, free sloppy joes, and it's just a thank you.

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A local girl earns her Girl Scout Silver AwardSubmitted: 09/01/2014

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RHINELANDER - Shandi Peitsch will receive her Girl Scout Silver Award.

The fourteen-year-old will get the award because she finished a service project at the Rhinelander Ice Arena.

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Two photographic exhibits to open next week at ArtStartSubmitted: 09/01/2014

RHINELANDER - The artists paired together in ArtStart's next exhibition couldn't have more different backgrounds.

Next Friday, the Rhinelander gallery will open with two very diverse displays.

"We have two photographic exhibitions opening. One is a solo artist, so the whole gallery will be their work, and the other is an artist who worked with teens as a kind of therapy program, photography and art as therapy," said ArtStart Development Director Melinda Childs.

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