EAGLE RIVER - Sparks flew in front of Valencia Carthen's eyes, sparking inspiration to take back home.
"The first thing you learn as a brand new teacher is steal, steal, steal the best ideas," Carthen said.
The Milwaukee Washington High School principal was getting ready to unpack her school district's first fab lab equipment Friday. Thursday, she and 12 other Milwaukee Public Schools members checked out several Northwoods labs with 3D printers, laser engravers, and routers.
"I had a small idea, which I thought was a big idea, but just going on this tour... The sky's the limit for these kids," Carthen said.
The tour through Northland Pines, Three Lakes, and Florence happened after a conversation between State Representative Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver. The two agreed small and big districts need to work together.
"A lot of times people think the rural schools just won't have access to different resources, but they've shown us what they can do with what they have," Dr. Driver said. "So, now my folks are going back and we're all thinking like, OK, we can do this."
State Representatives Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander), Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz), and Felzkowski made a point of visiting Three Lakes. In 2014, it became the first K-12 district in the state to get a fab lab.
"This is where future education is heading," Three Lakes senior Jack Connelly said.
Connelly and his team showed off their creation to lawmakers and school representatives. They also explained their goal of forming a business.
"I have no doubt in my mind that any student is capable of replicating what we've done here," Connelly said. "The reason I know that is because I didn't think I could do this six months ago."
Since Three Lakes' successful launch two and a half years ago, about 150 school districts statewide have built or signed on to build fab labs.
"We're can-do people," Felzkowski said of the Northwoods' leadership in starting fab labs. "And maybe that's because we've had to be. We don't have everything at our fingertips. The challenge was put out there and we've risen to the challenge."
It's thanks largely to a 2015 law that offered districts $25,000 matching grants through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to buy equipment.
"It's not only going to help northern Wisconsin, but it's going to move education forward as a state," Rep. Felzkowski said. "So that a kid in Northland Pines, a kid in downtown Milwaukee, a kid in Brookfield all have the same opportunities and the same ability to learn and have that successful life."
Learning from the labs takes a strong curriculum, which is something Northland Pines is just working out in its first year with a lab.
"If we can come up with some good ideas from Milwaukee Public Schools, if they can come up with good ideas from us, it's definitely a success story," Pines Administrator Dr. Mike Richie said.
Valencia Carthen knows her district will face the same challenge, but one Milwaukee is ready to face thanks to some new ideas shared from the Northwoods.
"Sometimes the best ideas are in the rural areas, sometimes the best ideas are in the urban areas, but you have to learn how to share," Carthen said.
State Representatives Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) also joined the tour.
MERRILL - When you live to be 100, you often often outlive your friends and even family members.
Lenore Ehlert, from Merrill, turned 100 years old on Wednesday.
"Well, actually, it doesn't feel much different, it's just another day," said Ehlert.
While celebrating that milestone, she found herself thinking of her husband who she lost 65 years ago.
Her husband, Merrill Police Captain, Elmer Krueger was shot and killed while on duty in July of 1952.
"July 19th and he died about three days later," said Ehlert.
Records from that time show an officer's death didn't lead to weeks of ceremonies and salutes like it does now.
"After the funeral, everything was just kind of forgotten," said Ehlert.
But decades later, it's not all forgotten. Merrill police officers, members of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and other first responders were all at the party to show that they were bonded for life after the tragedy years ago.
"It really is truly, that Lenore is part of our family," said Michael Caylor with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.
In addition to law enforcement, Governor Scott Walker, Congressman Sean Duffy and Attorney General Brad Schimel all wrote Lenore letters wishing her a happy birthday.
"It's quite an honor and I know part of it is for my husband and his memory," said Ehlert.
Elmer's memory was seen all throughout Lenore's special day.
"Know that you're part of the law enforcement family. Elmer was a brother, most of us didn't know him, but he's a brother nonetheless," said Lincoln County Sheriff, Jeff Jaeger.
She was surrounded by friends and family helping her celebrate her 100 years.
"If we're all to live as old and to be as loved as yourself, what a wonderful world this is going to be," said Caylor.
When asked for advice on how to live to be 100, Lenore said to keep your mind and body active, and to eat good food.
MERRILL - A $5 million facility that just opened in Merrill hopes to give people a place to learn more about heavy equipment and technology.
On Friday, Nortrax, a division of John Deere, celebrated the grand opening of a facility. Dozens of community members and officials were at the ribbon cutting.The process to open up the location on South Pine Ridge started a few years ago.
MADISON - MADISON, Wis. (AP) - " The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's request to provide federal low-interest disaster loans for individuals and businesses affected by flooding.
The SBA will provide loans for up to $200,000 for damaged homes, $40,000 for damaged property, and $2 million to businesses for physical damage and economic loss because of flooding.
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