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Merrill could ask taxpayers for millions for schools; survey shows referendum supportSubmitted: 11/21/2017
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Merrill could ask taxpayers for millions for schools; survey shows referendum support
MERRILL - Merrill could be the newest local school district to rely on referendum money in its school budget.

The district faces a $1.8 million dollar operating deficit for next school year, and it has had to take from savings for years to keep the school running.

"We've been making cuts, and we've gotten in the habit of making cuts. Unfortunately, we became very good at making cuts," said Superintendent Dr. John Sample.

A consultant's survey got more than 1,600 responses from people in the district. It shows two-thirds of respondents support some sort of referendum to help pay for schools.


"The survey showed that most of the community gets that whether you've got children or grandchildren currently as a student in the district [or not], that the district needs the community just as much as the community needs the district," Sample said.

The most popular option was raising $2.5 million per year over the next four years to support the current level of operations and support some additional ones, like tech ed and maintenance.

"As much as I think I know the community, because I'm out in the community as much as I possibly can be, it was still a huge sigh of relief and a very pleasant surprise [with] the outcome of the survey," Sample said.

Merrill's school board could approve a referendum plan as soon as December 6. The referendum question would be on the April ballot.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

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NORTHWOODS - Detective Mark Heckendorf wears one uniform, but wears many hats. 

"[I'm] sometimes a teacher, a counselor, a mentor, [and] a friend [and] sometimes a pseudo-parent," said Heckendorf who works for the Merrill Police Department. 

For the last 12 years, Heckendorf has worked as the Merrill High School and Prairie River Middle School resource officer. 

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MERRILL - Trinity Lutheran School in Merrill doesn't have room for any more kindergarten students next year.

Its class is already full, partly because some families can send their kids to Trinity for free.

For the third straight year, Trinity will participate in Wisconsin's private school choice program.

This year, the state pays tuition for about 30 of Trinity's 120 total students.

"Parents like the Christian base, obviously. That's the main reason people send [their kids] here," said School Administrator Kathy Yahr. "They're keeping them here more now because of the opportunities that we offer."

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MINOCQUA - You don't need to wait for the grass to turn green for golfing.

Minocqua's Ice Golf is an end of season charity tournament coming up on March 3rd.

The tournament raised more than $18,000  last year for charities including the food pantry and Dr. Kate Hospice.

It has become a Northwoods tradition for some people.

"First year we had it, we had only like 35 golfers, now last year we had over 300 golfers," says Albee's owner Randy Albrecht.

If you don't have a group, they'll put into one.

After everyone is done putting, there will be dinner and a raffle.

For tickets and info call: Albee's Yacht Club at 715-356-1366 OR The Thirsty Whale at 715-356-7108.


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WOODRUFF - Highway 47 in Woodruff temporarily closed down this afternoon so a MedEvac helicopter could lift a man to the hospital after a snowmobile accident. 

A group of snowmobilers were on the trail next to Highway 47 just south of Walter Dr. when one of the snowmobilers hit a bump and was thrown off his sled. 

"They were all traveling the same direction, just hit one of the bumps in the trail and that's what caused everything to happen," said Woodruff Police Officer Jeremy Herrmann. 

The man was airlifted to a hospital and has unknown injuries. 

The crash happened around 4 p.m. 

Highway 47 was closed in both directions for nearly half an hour, causing a backup of cars. 

The DNR, Oneida County Sheriff's Office, Minocqua Police and Fire Departments, and Woodruff Police and Fire Departments all responded.

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DNR hosts meeting about CWDSubmitted: 02/22/2018

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THE NORTHWOODS - A positive CWD test led to baiting and feeding bans starting in Lincoln and Langlade Counties and extending in Oneida, this month.

Hunters don't have a say, but the DNR took the first step to help the community understand the current CWD landscape. It hosted a meeting at Tomahawk high school on Wednesday.

About 50 people attended the meeting.

DNR wildlife biologist Janet Brehm gave a presentation. She said people were upset about the ban. Brehm emphasized that the ban was not put in place by the DNR, it's a part of Wisconsin state law. 

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NORTHWOODS - Lakes and nature bring people from all over the country to the Northwoods during the summer.
Those same attractions get some people to stay here.
Home sales and home prices in the Northwoods went up in 2017.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association reports about 1,300 more homes sold last year than in 2016 in Wisconsin.
A local broker saw the increase firsthand.
"The markets that are going crazy right now are premium homes. The Minocqua chain is red hot, the Eagle River chain is pretty hot the Three Lakes chain is pretty hot and there are some chains of lakes that are less hot," said Coldwell Banker broker Jim Mulleady. 

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WISCONSIN - A central Wisconsin state representative believes smaller communities in Wisconsin should not be treated as a welcome center for sex offenders, particularly sexual violent ones.

Democrat State Representative Katrina Shankland voted for a motion in the state budget to keep sex offenders in their original counties where the crimes took place.

However, Governor Scott Walker vetoed that motion in September because it go rid of the rule that keeps offenders away from schools, churches and other places children might be.

Now, there are three new pending sexual violent offenders waiting to be placed in rural areas of Portage County even though the crimes were committed elsewhere.

Shankland is trying once again to keep these offenders in their original home counties with a budget amendment that has already passed the assembly.

However, Governor Scott Walker vetoed that motion in September to keep offenders away from schools, churches and other places children might be.

Now, there are three new pending sexual violent offenders waiting to be placed in rural areas of Portage County even though the crimes were committed elsewhere.

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