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.
NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.
They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.
But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.
And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.
That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.
It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.
"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate.
Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday.
You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.
All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.
That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.
"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."
If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.
MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.
Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.
Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.
"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."
On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.
Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.
The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.
"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."
Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer.
MINOCQUA - Lakeland and Antigo generally square off as rivals in Great Northern Conference competition. But on Friday, nearly a week removed from the prom shootings in Antigo, Lakeland wanted to show that it was on Antigo's side.
"It's hard to react to something like this, because you want to be concerned, and you want to help, but it's hard to know how to help," said Maggie Laurence, a Lakeland sophomore and Student Council member.
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