$1.3 trillion federal spending plan good news for Northwoods aging departments, public radioSubmitted: 03/26/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

$1.3 trillion federal spending plan good news for Northwoods aging departments, public radio
CRANDON, RHINELANDER - Working with little money to spare is nothing new to Tammy Queen.

"We make it right now, but it's tight," Queen said. "It's very tight."

Queen runs the Forest County Department on Aging. She got great news last Friday.

The federal government poured more money into aging programs as part of a $1.3 trillion spending bill President Trump signed Friday.

Three-quarters of Queen's budget goes to senior meal programs in Crandon, Laona, Wabeno, Armstrong Creek, and Alvin. But she'd love to extend that. With more money, she might be able to serve seniors in places like Hiles, Argonne, and Pickerel.

"It helps you keep going," Queen said of the program. "It's not about being old. It's about making sure you're staying active after retirement."

The federal funding increase for aging programs is the first since 2010.

"Every year, we have all been talking about how we need more money, we need more money, and yet the federal government...has been talking about cuts to the aging program," Queen said.

Other local organizations will also benefit from the spending plan.

About a year ago, Trump proposed eliminating a half-billion dollars in funding for public broadcasting. WXPR public radio in Rhinelander relies on federal money for 20 percent of its budget.

Last Friday's bill kept that money in place. But until then, WXPR was planning for how it might deal with a major funding cut.

"Would it hurt us? Of course it would hurt us," said Jeff Burke, the board chair of White Pine Community Broadcasting, WXPR's umbrella group. "They would have involved program cuts, as I referred to earlier. And yes, they would have led to staff cuts as well."

Preserving federal funding will mean WXPR doesn't have to make those tough decisions.

"We're just very thankful that the legislators did what they did," Burke said.

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander group working to maintain recreational trails in the area got some help in their mission. The Rhinelander Area Silent Trails Association received grants to help fund its various projects.

The group got two DNR Recreational Trail Act Grants totaled at a little more than $13,000. The WPS Foundation also gave a total of $1,800 in grants. The grant money will be used to help with multiple projects. 

One project is to construct a boardwalk over the wetlands of the Cassian Cross County Ski Trail. RASTA is also going to construct a new ski trail at Washburn.

For more information on all of RASTA's projects, visit their Facebook page lined below.

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ARBOR VITAE - Last summer the Northwoods LBGT community and allies come together to celebrate love, diversity and acceptance.

After last year's successful festival, the Rainbow Hodags planned an even bigger one for this year.

More than 75 people celebrated gay pride at the second annual Pride Fest in Arbor Vitae.

Lots of laughter, live music, and dancing filled the park. 

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FLORENCE COUNTY - Two high school students died in a car crash early Friday morning in Florence County. The wreck happened at around 6:20 a.m. according to the Florence County Sheriff's Office.

The vehicle was traveling north on County Highway N in the Commonwealth Township, when the driver lost control while making a turn. The vehicle crossed the center line, left the roadway, and hit a tree, bursting into flames upon impact.

The names and ages of the Florence High School students will be released after notifications are made.

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LAKE TOMAHAWK - Back in the early nineties, an event in Lake Tomahawk gave thanks to veterans. This year, a group of community members decided to bring it back.

The Vets and Guides event invites veterans from King, Tomah, and other areas to come to Lake Tomahawk for a day of fishing, food, and a good time.

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RHINELANDER - People could drop off almost anything with a plug at an electronic recycling event in Rhinelander June 22.

Computers, laptops, and TVs filled boxes in the Charter NEX Films parking lot.

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Long winter might affect fishSubmitted: 06/22/2018

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The unusual weather this spring may affect fishing across the Northwoods.

Cold water due to late ice-out on lakes had a negative effect on fish this spring.

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Ruffed grouse appear to be less active this spring compared to last year.

Recent surveys showed drumming activity was down 34 percent across the state.

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