ANTIGO - The School District of Antigo will see a lot of new faces this fall.
The district hired 26 new teachers this year.
They lost so many teachers last year because of retirements and teachers leaving for bigger districts.
The district can't always pay teachers as much as larger districts can, especially teachers in specialized subjects, such as special education or science.
"We've tended overall on average to be in the middle of the pack, but at some levels we're falling behind," says Antigo School District Interim District Administrator Don Childs. "Particularly in areas of high need and specialty. You'll find there are districts that are willing to pay premiums and that sometimes draws people as well away from another district."
This isn't a problem only faced by Antigo schools.
Some teachers are drawn away by a desire to live in a bigger city.
"Typically you don't have all the necessary social infrastructure that you get in a larger community, in an urban area," says Childs. "For a lot of people that's the kind of environment they want."
Teachers going to larger school districts wasn't the only reason Antigo lost so many employees.
Eighteen teachers retired last year alone, and the district could be facing a similar problem at the end of this school year.
The district used to pay for up to 90 months of health insurance for teachers after they retired, but that policy cost the district millions of dollars.
"[A] couple of years ago, the board acted to end that practice because it was extraordinarily expensive, and the state was requiring us to count that in our accounting as one of our best accounting practices. We couldn't just write it off as an annual payment anymore. We had to take it on as an obligation," says Childs.
This is the last year teachers can take advantage of those retirement benefits.
"Others might not have always elected to do so this early. They want to take advantage of that benefit, so we had 18 people," says Childs. "We'll probably have people again who will take advantage of it."
RHINELANDER - The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission will get its long-awaited federal funding installment by October 4.
The timing means no Northwoods Transit Connections drivers will have to voluntarily furlough their pay, but the requirement of 24-hour advance notice for rides will stay in place.
Transit Commission Chair Erv Teichmiller learned the news over the weekend.
The commission is waiting on an expected payment of $300,000 from the federal government. In 2016, that money came in early September. As of last Friday, the commission wasn't expecting the payment until as late as November.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander factory that makes smoke flavoring caught fire early Monday morning.
Shortly before 6:00 a.m., Rhinelander, Crescent and Newbold Fire Departments responded to a fire at Red Arrow Products on Rhinelander's west side.
An employee says there were about eight workers inside at the time.
No one was injured.
"Flames were coming out of a conveyor area as high as the roof. We made an interior attack and knocked that flame down. Came in from the other side of the partition wall, then made another interior attack and knocked that down," says Chief Terry Williams.
As of 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, firefighters were still working to make sure the flames were out.
RHINELANDER - A large open lot on Rhinelander's east side could soon fill in with a chain restaurant.
Cory Moritz-Hoffmann and her husband hope to build a Pizza Ranch next to Kwik Trip on Eisenhower Parkway. The pair of former Pine Lake firefighters got the idea about six years ago when they first went to a Pizza Ranch in Iowa.
They considered pursing a franchise then, but it was more than they could afford at the time. About two years ago, the Hoffmanns contacted an investor and saw an opportunity to turn their dream into a reality.
MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker has selected a former legislator to run the state Department of Natural Resources.
Walker's office announced Monday that he has chosen former Republican state Rep. Dan Meyer to serve as DNR secretary. He replaces Cathy Stepp, who resigned in August to take a position in President Donald Trump's administration.
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