KRONENWETTER - A near-perfect sunny day provided the perfect backdrop for the latest addition outside Ryan Wiechmann's school.
"Oh, it's monstrous!" Wiechmann said.
A towering array of solar panels shimmered in the sun over Wiechmann's shoulder at Northland Lutheran High School in Kronenwetter. Monday, the school and family members celebrated the addition to Wisconsin Public Service's SolarWise for Schools program.
"We are very patient for it but very glad," Wiechmann said.
Northland Lutheran told WPS it was interested in joining the program a few years ago, then showed further interest by competing in the utility's annual Solar Olympics. Crews installed the panels at the Kronenwetter school Friday. Students will track solar data and use it as part of the science, math, and other technology curricula.
"Great 21st-century skills," Wiechmann said. "Problem-solving, the critical thinking how do use that solar energy or any form of renewable energy to make a difference in the world?"
The panels are the 56th set WPS has installed, but the first array that actually moves with the sun. The panels cost around $21,000, but all of that is covered by the WPS Community Foundation.
"These donations are voluntary and they really keep not only our ability to not only expand this program to new schools but the donations also cover maintaining those existing systems," WPS spokesman Matt Cullen said.
Before Monday's ceremony, high school students also learned about hydro and wind power and electric cars. WPS expects the SolarWise program -- which started in 1996 -- to spark important interest in the STEM fields.
"Renewable energy is an important thing for WPS and to be able to educate students about that is one of the main goals and main focuses of this program," Cullen said.
Now active and generating about 6,000 kWh per year, the panels will stay as a permanent fixture, which Wiechmann sees as the perfect welcome sign for his school.
"One more way for people to stop and say, 'What's going on there? This is something neat, I want to be a part of it,'" Wiechmann said.
Cullen says there are a few of the 62 high schools in its coverage area that aren't part of the program. For more information, visit the website below.
ROSENDALE, WI - An explosion and fire at a cheese plant in Fond du Lac County sent one person to the hospital.
The sheriff's office says 36-year-old Travis Klotzbach, of Brandon, was using a cutting torch on an empty 55-gallon barrel in the auto shop at Knaus Cheese near Rosendale when the explosion happened just after 7 a.m. Friday.
EAGLE RIVER - Americans eat more than 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. That much thawing, handling, and cooking of turkeys means people can make mistakes.
The Vilas County Public Health Department wants to help people avoid exposing themselves to dangerous bacteria. It says frozen turkeys should always be thawed in the refrigerator or under running water.
"You don't want to set them out on your countertop for any amount of time to thaw them because that's when they're going to be in the 'danger zone.' The 'danger zone' is between 40 and 140 [degrees Fahrenheit], and that's when pathogens can grow," said Vilas County Registered Sanitarian Amy Springer.
RHINELANDER - Snow plows can't do their job very well when cars sit in their way. That's why Rhinelander's winter parking ban will return in just a couple of weeks.
Starting December 1st, cars can only park on designated sides of the street during the day. On even-numbered days, cars park on the side of the street with even addresses. On odd numbered days, cars must park on odd-numbered sides of the street.
RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Salvation Army hopes to raise $40,000 in its bell ringing campaign again this year. It reached that goal during the holidays a year ago.
Volunteers kicked off the bell ringing drive at Trig's and Shopko on Friday. Eighty-six percent of money raised stays in the Rhinelander area to help families in emergencies.
"We're very excited that we're keeping our goal at 40 (thousand dollars) this year, and we're hoping that people are continuing to be generous in helping us reach that goal," Rhinelander Salvation Army Kettle Coordinator Kim Swisher said. "People are friendly, they're excited, they're like, 'Oh, it's bell ringing time!' [That] always means the holidays. We're excited about that."
You'll see volunteers at Trig's and Shopko through the holidays. Bell ringing starts at Walmart next week.
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