SHAWANO - The lights never go out at Christensen Printing and Publishing in Shawano.
President and CEO Rod Christensen's plant operates 24 hours a day, cranking out about 135 magazines, shoppers, and local newspapers.
"They're from all over Wisconsin," Christensen said. "Every little community around here we pretty much print for."
Local papers like the Forest Republican, Merrill Foto News, and Antigo Times roll off the presses. They're all on newsprint from Canadian mills, like just about every newspaper in Wisconsin. Christensen takes in about 60 tons of the paper each week.
But this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce upped the tariff on Canadian newsprint to about 30 percent.
That's hitting small newspapers and printers hard. Christensen said he's now paying an extra $40,000 per month for newsprint compared to last year.
"In order for us to survive, we try to give the best deals we possibly can to our local communities," he said. "That's getting harder and harder and harder to do with these new increases in pricing."
Andrew Johnson owns and operates three weekly community newspapers in Dodge County. He's also the vice president of the National Newspaper Association.
"This tariff would jeopardize our news in Wisconsin," Johnson said in a Skype interview.
He's worried the tariff could put some small Wisconsin newspapers out of business.
"We definitely are at risk of losing [them]," Johnson said. "If the prices go too high and/or we can't get supply, we would go out."
Johnson said the tariffs were triggered by a loophole in Commerce Department code. Lawyers and investors associated with a small newsprint-producing mill in Washington state found and exploited the loophole, starting the tariff.
This year, Johnson will lobby the Commerce Department to get rid of the tariffs. He'll argue, in part, that a loss of newspapers could mean a loss of small towns.
"There is no one else that's really interested in your communities," Johnson said. "I think without that, the community would lose its identity."
In Shawano, Christensen is frustrated with the tariffs.
At the same time, he keeps a positive outlook.
"We'll be around for a long time to come," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind."
TOMAHAWK - After a bitterly cold November, road crews in Tomahawk enjoyed a warm up on Monday. But temperatures shifting above and below freezing this week will create perfect conditions for a lot more work. John Cole is the Director of Public Works for the City of Tomahawk. He says that pothole issues are something that his crew fights all season long.
"It's job security, it's not a good job security, but it is job security for sure because you always have potholes to fill," said Cole. "When you get that expansion and contraction, we get water in those cracks, and when you get the traffic and people driving on them."
In Tomahawk, Cole sends crews out every week to look for potholes and fill them. He also sends out crews whenever they get a call about a bad pothole.
RHINELANDER - It's easy to slip on ice, skid on roads, or get stuck in the snow.
One thing that also happens is joint pain from common winter activities.
Shoveling heavy snow is one of the biggest problems Rhinelander Chiropractor Dr. Tony Lowenberg sees causing this pain.
He said shoveling is a physical activity that can cause excessive stress on the body; especially for people who don't lift heavy often.
"Lifting and the twisting creates wear and tear on their body. Then [people] feel it as pain and then their muscles get tight because they are not used to lifting stuff," said Dr. Lowenberg. "It's more people that are not used a physical job, shoveling can be [troublesome]."
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander student made it onto her school bus and to class unhurt last Tuesday, but she almost didn't. A recent close call left Bowen Bus Service employees wondering if Rhinelander will be the next to see a student killed while simply trying to get to and from school.
On Hwy 8 last week a student was nearly hit by a truck at her bus stop, leaving the bus driver in disbelief. In a surveillance video from the bus, you can hear the bus driver say "That car like just missed you. That truck just missed her."
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