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

Gov. Walker not opposed to EPA involvement in proposed mine; OK if for science not politics
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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RHINELANDER - The ground won't thaw for another month or so, but you can start planning your garden now.

You'll have to wait until mid-May to plant flowers, but you can get away with some vegetable seeds.

Bare root plants are also a good option for early-spring.

Those include apple trees, blueberry and raspberry bushes.

"We can help out here when you come out and make sure you get everything you need to get started.

It's mostly getting it established in the ground and you can just let it grow, says Beth Hanson.

Hanson Garden Village's Spring Preview is this Saturday and open to the public.

If you want to find out more about their spring planting classes, click below.

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MADISON - The entire state of Wisconsin will be placed under quarantine for emerald ash borer.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced the quarantine will take effect March 30th.

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EAGLE RIVER - Jesse Kuczmarski always dreamed of owning his own body shop. His wife, Chantel, thought it would be neat to work with her husband.

Both now have what they want. The Kuczmarskis became the new owners of Accent Auto Body in Eagle River in October.

Jesse works on cars, while Chantel handles social media, taxes, and administration.

"The first day that we worked together, we looked at each other, and we just thought, wow, this is just so amazing to be able to work together," Chantel said. "It was so peaceful in the shop."

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ARBOR VITAE - You won't want to wear your best clothes to one race in May.

Minocqua's Color Run Fundraiser is a 3K and 5K race for Arbor Vitae-Woodruff and MJ1 schools.

The race is one of the schools' biggest fundraisers for field trips, additional school supplies and equipment.

The Color Run raised almost $20,000 last year.

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MINOCQUA - People don't often realize what is going through police officers' heads when they arrive on a scene. Whether it's a traffic stop or a robbery, a lot of training and preparation comes before an officer can respond. The Minocqua Police Department holds a Citizen's Academy to show people in the community just what it takes to be a police officer. 

Michelle Littleton enrolled in the Citizen's Academy four years ago to see what a day in the life of an officer is really like. 

"I wanted to see behind the scenes to what they're doing each and every day," said Littleton, of Hazelhurst.
She learned there is a lot more to an officer's job than the public might realize. 

"They have a small window of opportunity to take care of themselves and protect themselves," said Littleton.
Now in its fourth year, the Citizen's Academy gives people in the community a hands on learning experience with situations like traffic stops, OWIs, and defense and arrest tactics. 

The eight-week course is a shorter version of what new officers learn in the Police Academy. Sometimes it can help people find out if a career in law enforcement is something they want to pursue.

David Wellman decided to take this year's course to see how law enforcement in Minocqua differs from in a big city. 

"I wanted to see if the smaller town police the training is the same, how they interact with the public and how things are done on a day to day basis up here with a smaller department," said Wellman, of Hazelhurst. 

Tuesday's lesson showed the students how dispatch works and how officers respond to a traffic stop. 

One of Littleton's favorite lessons was about how officers utilize their guns in a dangerous situation. 

"They set up a scenario, which was like a movie screen, where you'd actually walk into a scene and you had to determine whether or not to use lethal force," said Littleton. 

While the Citizen's Academy helps people understand what a day in the life of an officer looks like, it's also beneficial for the teachers to meet members of the community.

"It also helps me and some of the other officers. I get to meet some of the people I might not get to meet on a regular basis. It builds that trust and community relationships a lot more, I think," said Minocqua Police Officer Daniel Littleton.

The academy is held every year from March until May. Classes meet Tuesdays from 6-10 p.m. for eight weeks. 

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RHINELANDER - Old kitchen cabinets got a fresh coat of paint Tuesday morning in the back of an old building that Kate Bauman is bringing new life to.

"We really kind of want to make our home here," Bauman said.

Over the last few weeks, Bauman and her husband Elvis transformed 146 North Brown Street in Rhinelander from office space into a storefront for their store "Unique Creations."

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander man's wallet will soon get a lot fuller.

Paul Webster is one of the lucky players who won $50,000 playing Powerball from last week's drawing.

Webster bought his ticket at Wagner's Westside Shell in Rhinelander.

Shell Cashier Brenda Novak says she doesn't know Webster, but hopes to meet him soon.

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