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.
MINOCQUA - Something as easy as telling time or spelling a five-letter word backward can get more difficult as we age. People in the Northwoods can test their ability to complete those simple tasks with a memory screening at the Pastime Club Adult Day Center in Minocqua. Individuals or their caregivers can then present that information to a medical provider for further evaluation.
RHINELANDER - For decades, homelessness has been a problem that defies easy solutions.
The number of homeless veterans in Wisconsin increased by 8.1% over the past year.
Assistant Oneida County Veterans Service officer Jason Dailey said that may be due to certain that issues effects of military service.
"There's a lot of the big issues for veteran's homelessness, there's a lot of post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues than cause issues maintaining employment," said Dailey. 'But we don't have the economy to support all those people necessarily as far as jobs go.'
Dailey believes the lack of triggers from a larger city that draw veterans to the Northwoods.
RHINELANDER - Lead ammunition remains the most popular option for hunters in Wisconsin. That's because it's cheap and gets the job done. However, experts encourage hunters to switch to a copper-based ammunition in order to protect other treasured species.
Wild Instincts Rehabilitation Center has seen nearly 30 cases of lead poisoning in bald eagles this year. Rehabilitators say the higher cost of copper ammo is a small price to pay for wildlife safety.
"It's not a gun control issue. It's not about trying to take anybody's rights away, it's to make it safer," said wildlife rehabilitator Mark Naniot. "We took lead out of our paint, out of gasoline because it was affecting us as humans. And of course we're affecting tons of animals out there."
ANTIGO - Like many cities, Antigo puts a room tax on it hotels and motels. The revenue generated is then used by a "tourism entity" to promote more overnight visitors in Antigo. For thirteen years that tourism entity has been the Antigo / Langlade County Chamber of Commerce, but another option is being explored.
Drew Lundt, board president of the chamber, never wanted this to come to a lawsuit.
"Unfortunately if this has to go to a legal battle, nobody's going to win that," said Lundt.
But recent disagreements have put that partnership in jeopardy.
Public meeting documents show Mayor Bill Brandt thought the combined chamber / visitor center was promoting its members, rather than the entire community.
Mayor Brandt pointed to the Visitor's Guide as an example. In the February 27th meeting, he expressed disappointment that only one Antigo hotel was shown in it.
RHINELANDER - The middle of November is usually a lull period between musky and ice fishing season. This year, that period was shortened.
Lakes began freezing a few weeks ago thanks to cold temperatures. Now that ice has formed on the lakes, people are venturing out to ice fish.
Some lakes look quiet at the moment, but as temperatures continue to get cold, that will be changing.
"Usually ice fishing season starts around here, end of November, right after deer season people start," said The Fishing Hole owner Gary Mangerson. "This year we're super early, which I enjoy because I don't have much down time."
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