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Populations continue to decrease in Wisconsin's rural countiesSubmitted: 02/13/2020
Peter Dubois
Peter Dubois
Reporter/Anchor
pdubois@wjfw.com

Populations continue to decrease in Wisconsin's rural counties
NORTHWOODS - A new Forward Analytics report showed people are leaving Wisconsin's rural counties and moving into more urban ones.

Two-thirds of rural counties in the Badger State saw their populations decrease from 2000 to 2018. That trend contrasts with studies that showed population growth in these areas in the 1990's.

"We're aging, so our demographics are getting older, and our populations are shrinking," said Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) regional director Jim Rosenberg. "Community development is economic development. You have to make it a place where people want to come."

These population trends are expected to continue in the Northwoods. Price County is predicted to lose 18% of its current population by 2040.


Experts said the best way for people and businesses to thrive in these communities is by expanding broadband access.

"In the 21st century, technology is not going away," said Grow North director Brittany Beyer. "A good percentage of our businesses [need] connectivity. We have to talk about it being a utility rather than an amenity."

In order for that to happen, Beyer said elected officials need to take a stand.

"We also need to ask our local officials be part of the solution and help the communities have these long-term visions about where they want to go," said Beyer.

Governor Evers has directed the WEDC to create a new division called the Office of Rural Prosperity. This division will focus on a number of issues, including broadband expansion.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

CRANDON - The Forest County Humane Society works around the clock to help animals find forever homes. But taking care of those animals during their stay doesn't just take a lot of time; it takes a lot of money, too.

The shelter got a helping hand, thanks to a $35,000 grant from the ASPCA. It's part of an initiative to help brick-and-mortar shelters improve their animals' quality of life.

Shelter director Angie Schaefer says that money paid for 20 new cat-condos, fencing for two new dog yards, and several other much-needed supplies.

"We're small, we're in a small community, so to raise that kind of money to get these items would have been quite a task. For them to step in and do that for us is amazing," said Schaefer.

Schaefer said the extra yards will allow dogs to spend more time outside and socialize with each other.

If you're interested in volunteering or donating to the humane society, visit its website for more information.

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RHINELANDER - The Pioneer Park Historical Complex is popular not only among tourists but also school field trips and Rhinelander natives.

The buildings give people an endless amount of historical background on the city and surrounding areas.

Like many city-owned places, the complex operates mainly on donations.

In the past the museum has had trouble accepting the donations of larger amounts and tax-deductible ones.

Until a recent partnership, the museum was unable to accept donations of large amounts and tax-deductible ones.

The new alliance with the Rhinelander Community Foundation led to the creation of a general fund.

Creators of the fund George and Sondra Juetten will match any donation up to $25,000 to the fund.

Museum director Kerry Bloedorn says the new partnership opens up more opportunities towards projects at the park.

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ST. GERMAIN - The St. Germain Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first ever 'Sunday Funday.' 

On Sunday, July 5th, there will be two bands: Flying Blind from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tony Ocean 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

St. Germain's Chamber of Commerce Exec. Director Penny Strom said she wants this to be an opportunity for people to get outside while being safe.

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- The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans' self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.

With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.

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MADISON - Wisconsin health officials have confirmed nearly 600 more cases of COVID-19 in the state.

The state Department of Health Services said Friday that the state has now seen 30,317 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March. That's up 579 cases from Thursday.

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RHINELANDER -
The Hodag Water Shows Board of Directors have canceled the water ski shows for 2020.

You can still walk past and spot the skiers keeping their skills sharp for next summer, but organizers say having shows is too risky.

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NORTHWOODS - Wisconsin's lakes have a lot to offer their visitors. But some, like aquatic invasive species, are unwelcome due to the damage they can cause to native ecosystems.

There's a growing effort to prevent, contain, and control the spread of these aquatic invasive species, especially this holiday weekend. As part of the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program, volunteers will be stationed across popular boat landings, doing inspections and educating boaters on how to properly clean their boats.

"Any type of holiday weekend, especially the fourth of July when there's a lot more boat traffic, there's an emphasis on getting more awareness out there," said DNR recreation warden Justin Bender.

Aside from volunteers, most boat landings also have information posted on aquatic invasive species and the laws regarding boat cleaning. Citations for not properly cleaning your boats typically run $200-300.

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