Gov. Walker not opposed to EPA involvement in proposed mine; OK if for science not politics Submitted: 07/02/2014
Story By Adam Fox

RHINELANDER - Gov. Scott Walker (R) says he wouldn't oppose involvement by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the state permitting process for a proposed iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills.

Northern Wisconsin's six Chippewa tribes want to go around the state's mining regulation process and turn to the EPA.

The tribes say they can't rely on Wisconsin's regulatory process to protect fish, wildlife, wild rice, or water quality in northern Wisconsin.

The tribe hopes the agency will stop a four mile long proposed iron mine in Iron and Ashland counties.

Walker said at a campaign event in Rhinelander on Wednesday that isn't opposed to EPA as long as their involvement wouldn't be political because he believes the state's mining process would pass any federal inspection.

"It's one of those (things) where we wanted to have a process for safely and environmentally sound mining," Walker said. "We think if the EPA is actually using science based technologies, then ultimately we believe you can both have the operation."

Republicans passed a mining bill signed by Gov. Walker in March 2013 that paved the way for the mining operation. The partisan bill was seen by Democrats as a piece of legislation that weakened environmental safeguards. Republicans argued it cut bureaucratic red tape and simplified the states permitting process.

Gogebic Taconite wants to dig the mine. It would be the largest iron ore mine in North America.

Leaders for the project say it could bring more than 500 permanent jobs to the area that is lagging behind the rest of the state in employment.

According to May unemployment statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Iron County has 11.3 percent unemployment, while Ashland County has an 8.5 percent unemployment rate. Those rank 70th and 71st out of Wisconsin's 72 counties. Menominee County has the state's worst unemployment rate at 15.1 percent.

Governor Walker believes the mine would benefit more than just those counties.

"In the end, for the people particularly in Iron and Ashland County, and also all throughout the state of Wisconsin, who would benefit from both the jobs and the construction, the jobs related to the ongoing operations for many cases are generational," Walker said.

Leaders from Gogebic Taconite and the Wisconsin DNR are working on a multimillion dollar environmental impact study right now. Gogebic Taconite is paying for EIS project.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/26/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We talked to a Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce board member about what the future holds as they search for a new executive director almost a month after Bill Clow was let go from the position.

We'll tell you when snowmobile trails are set to open in Vilas County and what's being done to prepare for the season.

And as the World Series is taking place between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, we'll introduce you to the grandson of legendary baseball player and former Three Lakes resident Cy Williams. Hear what William's grandson has to say about his grandfather's baseball career.

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

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MERRILL - People know Helene's Hilltop Orchard in Merrill as the place to go to get your fall season fix.

The pie makers and apple peelers come in early to crank out caramel apple pies fresh throughout the day.

When people come to Helene's, they are usually greeted by the smell of the pies before they even see them.

"I love being out in the parking lot when people step out of their cars and smell the air. It doesn't smell like a lot of other farms. It's distinctly the cinnamon sugar you smell," said Helene' Hilltop Orchard baker Olivia Telschow.

Helene's is only open for six weeks from mid-September to late October; however, Telschow works alongside her mother Helene throughout the entire year.

Even in the winter, the apple orchard is checked on.

"February is pruning season. Think of me when it's minus ten and it's snowing and windy and snow drifts because I will be out there," said Telschow.

The orchard is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October 30th.

Helene's will close Sunday for the season, but pies will be available to order for Thanksgiving.

Call (715) 536-1207 for more information.

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MERRILL - A former Merrill choir teacher will be sentenced today for sexual assault.

Last month, 26 year old Chase Tonar plead no contest to sexual assault of a student by school staff in Lincoln County Court.

Tonar is accused of having sex with a student both while he was a teacher at Merrill High School and after he resigned last May.

Police arrested Tonar in July.

The Lincoln County District Attorney says he will ask for jail time, as well as sex offender reporting and counseling.

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MADISON - A University of Wisconsin student charged with sexually assaulting and choking a woman is expected to face additional charges after investigators say they were contacted by dozens of other women.

Police say officers searching Alec Cook's Madison apartment found a black book with names of women he had met and what he wanted to do with them, including his sexual desires.

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MADISON - The state Natural Resources' board will soon vote on selling another 3,500 acres of public land.

A measure included in the state budget ordered the DNR to sell 10,000 acres by the middle of next year.

Money raised will help pay down debt in the agency's land stewardship program.

The Natural Resources board approved putting about 1,400 acres up for sale in 2014.

Another 5,700 acres went up for sale this past February.

The board should vote Wednesday in Madison on whether to put a final 93 parcels totaling just over 3,500 acres up for sale.

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MADISON - Even with higher fees, plenty of people want to camp in state parks.

Wisconsin state park use this year is on track to be higher than average, despite fee increases that were imposed to offset the withdrawal of tax support.

The number of camping registrations and nights camped in 2016 through Friday was greater than in any year since 2008 except for last year's record.

This year, there have been nearly 160,000 camping registrations and more than 386,000 nights camped for state parks, recreation areas and southern forests.

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STEVENS POINT - On Tuesday at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Chelsea Clinton, daughter of 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, spoke to more than 300 people. 

During her speech she emphasized the need to end the negativity that was brought by Republican nominee Donald Trump this election calling it the "Trump Effect." 

"I never thought I would see in my lifetime the almost normalization of hate speech from a major presidential candidate," said Clinton.

For some who attended the event, seeing Clinton was more than just a reminder to get out and vote; it was a reminder of where Clinton started.

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