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School funding task force meets for first timeSubmitted: 12/14/2017
School funding task force meets for first time
Story By Associated Press

MADISON - Leaders of a new bipartisan task force tackling ways to improve Wisconsin's much-maligned school funding formula are realistic about chances any changes will be made.

The panel that met for the first time Thursday is the latest in a long line of groups that have studied ways to improve the formula.

Senator Luther Olsen is co-chair of the panel and says he doesn't want this latest study to "gather dust."

But he also says changes that result in school districts losing state aid won't go anywhere without additional funding and that is a challenge.

The group plans to hold hearings across the state for a year and issue recommendations in time for the 2019 state budget.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Police Department identified the man who died after a house fire on Friday night as 35-year-old Jeffery J. Becker.

Rhinelander Fire Chief Terry Williams told Newswatch 12 on Monday afternoon that an autopsy indicates Becker died from smoke inhalation, but the autopsy results and further investigation is now in the hands of the state Department of Criminal Investigations.

Crews responded to the house at 320 Rose Street, near Hodag Park, around 7:30 p.m. Friday.  Firefighters went inside the house soon after they arrived and found Becker unresponsive on the floor. Firefighters and paramedics tried to revive Becker, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

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PRICE CO. - Price County's Tourism Department escaped being cut in last year's budget, but this year the County Board decided to get rid of it in a 10-2 vote.

Instead of having its own department, the county will give the Park Falls and Phillips chambers of commerce $15,000 each.

The two chambers will work together to use that money to promote tourism in the county.

The plan is to eliminate the county tourism department no later than the end of the year. 

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MERRILL - Apple picker Kyle Gulke has worked at Helene's Hilltop Orchard in Merrill for three years.

"I wanted to help out. They definitely need help to pick all the trees," said Gulke.

Orchard owner Olivia Telschow has about 14 acres of trees. That's at least 8,000 trees.

Only two men are in charge of picking apples from those trees.

"I'm still short about 12 employees," said Telschow.

Telschow says battling this summer's heat was hard, but finding people willing to work in it was even more challenging.

She has openings throughout the orchard, but needs pickers the most.

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MADISON - Attorney General Brad Schimel says you need to be aware of spoof phone calls coming from people claiming to be with the police.

The calls are also coming from spoofers claiming to be with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

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RHINELANDER - An annual program in Rhinelander that helps people prep for winter without breaking the bank will start up again this week.

Warm for Winter allows people to pick out donated clothes and other necessities for free.

Organizer Jan Leschke says they've been working every week to make sure all the clothes, shoes, and other items are sorted and ready for shoppers.

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WAUSAU - High school students often balance classes, homework, sports, music, work, and social lives, which can all lead to stress.

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TOMAHAWK -
Texting and driving leads to hundreds of thousands of crashes a year. 

That's according to AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign, which encourages people to take a pledge to drive distraction free. 

Representatives from AT&T, AAA, the Wisconsin State Patrol, and state legislators visited Tomahawk High School Monday for an assembly based on the campaign.

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