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Northcentral Wisconsin drivers feel pain of traveling on underfunded state roadsSubmitted: 06/01/2016
Northcentral Wisconsin drivers feel pain of traveling on underfunded state roads
Story By Ben Meyer

MOSINEE - Only drivers in Illinois and Connecticut have to suffer on worse roads than drivers here in Wisconsin. Seventy-one percent of Wisconsin's roads are in mediocre or poor shape, according to a survey by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

People in northcentral Wisconsin feel the pain.


Price County Highway Commissioner Don Grande says less than 10 percent of his road system is rated "good" or better. But he doesn't have the money from the federal, state, or county government to make major repairs.

At current funding levels, Price County can only replace its road system every 200 years.

"It's extremely frustrating that we can't keep up with the economic demand in Price County," Grande said. "Our system is in such poor shape that we're just throwing anything we can at it just to glue it together."

Grande and dozens of others met in Mosinee on Wednesday to discuss poor roads and funding challenges.

Other communities face similar frustrations. The City of Marshfield will ask residents to raise their own taxes in August to pay for roadwork.

"Oftentimes, when we talk about improving parks or other services, the public will say, 'That's great, but before you do that, what about the streets in my neighborhood? When are they going to be upgraded? When are they going to be maintained more?'" said Marshfield City Administrator Steve Barg.

Marshfield hopes to raise $6.8 million through the property tax referendum to make long-term fixes to roads.

"The long-term success is whether or not you can provide a good long-term surface 30, 40, or 50 years out that's going to be durable," Barg said. "That's the bigger issue, as opposed to just keeping up on the filling of cracks and the potholes."

Many people at the Mosinee meeting, which was hosted by the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, complained that last year's state budget did little to help transportation funding for northern Wisconsin.

"Some of the similarities we've heard is, one is, frustration. It shouldn't be this hard," said TDA Executive Director Craig Thompson. "Other states are figuring out a way to fund their transportation system. Wisconsin hasn't been able to yet."

Wisconsin legislators delayed budget talks for four weeks last year while debating the transportation budget. They ended up cutting millions from what Gov. Scott Walker first wanted to spend.

Even so, hundreds of millions will go to repairing the Zoo Interchange in the Milwaukee area.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

OSHKOSH - Authorities have arrested two boat operators on suspicion of operating while intoxicated after their boats collided on Lake Butte des Morts in Oshkosh. 

The crash happened around 9 p.m. Saturday. 

The Winnebago County Sheriff's Office says a 26-foot Glastron boat with six people aboard was having mechanical problems and was traveling slowly toward Rainbow Park when it was struck by a 17-foot Lund boat heading in the same direction with two people aboard. 

Three people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries. 

The damaged boats were still merged together from the impact when they were towed to shore.


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RHINELANDER -

After the Governor's decision, Mel's Trading Post made it clear; wear a mask or wait outside.

"Employee and customers, use a mask," said owner, Mitch Mode, "If people don't want a mask we can serve them at the front or curbside service."

But for Mel's, having customers wear a mask is nothing new.

"We've used masks, today is just another day of doing masks. Quite honestly, doing pretty well and people are pretty comfortable with it," Mode said.

In other places, however, masks may not see practical, such as, Papillon's Cafe.

"I don't think it's affected us at all. You've got all the retail stores that require masks now, so it's just a part of life right now," said employee Becky Dittel.

However, the restaurant is still encouraging their patrons to wear face coverings, they just want customers to be smart about it. 

"Our owner suggested that you wear your mask in, order your food, then your food comes out, of course, take your mask down and eat, then put your mask back up." 

For some businesses, staying safe and comfortable is a top priority. Masks or not.

"We're not going to deviate from what we think is the best practice for employees," Mode added, "if people don't want to wear masks we'll try to accommodate them at the door. We do that because we think it makes sense." 


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ANTIGO -

The Team Wireless Verizon dealer hosted it's second annual "Backpacks 4 Kids" event at over 50 locations.

Parents and students were allowed to stop by on Saturday and pick out their own backpacks with over $40 worth of school supplies, all from donations in the community.

The Antigo branch was able to supply 56 bags for local students.

"I know that for myself I've had donations anywhere between a dollar and $20," said Assistant Store Manager, Leah Anderson, "$4 a donation provided one backpack so, $20 a donation is five backpacks for our local community."

This year's event brought in over $80,000 worth of school supplies.


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DNR launches new websiteSubmitted: 07/31/2020

RHINELANDER - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources launched a newly designed website to be faster and more user-friendly.

The goal of the website is to make it easier for visitors to learn information the DNR offers.

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MADISON - Wisconsin Senate Republicans "stand ready" to strike down the statewide mask mandate that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced on Thursday, the GOP Senate leader said Friday.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald stopped short of promising that the Senate would vote to kill the order, which is slated to take effect on Saturday. Fitzgerald, a candidate for Congress who faces a GOP primary on Aug. 11, also did not indicate when the Senate might convene.

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- Newly elected Justice to Wisconsin Supreme Court Jill Karofsky will be sworn into office on Saturday, August 1 at 1:00 p.m. in a ceremony.

The ceremony will briefly interrupt her 100-mile ultramarathon, which will take over 30 hours.

Justice Karofsky will be sworn in by Justice Rebecca Dallet.

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NORTHWOODS -
Sheriff's departments from Forest, Florence, Langlade, Marathon, Oneida, Portage, and Taylor counties have all announced they will not be enforcing Governor Evers' statewide mask mandate.

We have not yet heard back from Iron or Price county sheriff's departments.

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