ONEIDA COUNTY - The Oneida County Board Chair used the term "off the table" to describe metallic mining in the town of Lynne going forward.
Nearly two-thirds of the county said "no" to mining exploration in an advisory referendum question on Tuesday.
The county board doesn't have to follow the wishes of voters in the referendum. But Chair Dave Hintz now calls the chances of the board moving forward on mining "remote."
"The answer was not yes. The answer was no," Hintz said Wednesday. "So, we will not go through that due diligence process, which means mining of the Lynne property is off the table, not on our agenda at this point."
The Lynne ore deposit contains valuable minerals below county-owned land in western Oneida County. Mining companies have showed interest for years. But it's also near the Willow Flowage, a major water resource in the county.
This year, the county board put the referendum question asking about mining on the November ballot.
"We would like to put this thing to bed for quite a while," said Jeff Brown, a Lynne resident and member of the Protect the Willow anti-mining group.
Brown calls the group a team of political "rookies." But nearly 12,000 Oneida County voters agreed with the group's message on Tuesday. Sixty-two percent of the county voted "no."
"The people across the board, Republicans and Democrats, have said, 'It doesn't matter what party we're at, we don't want a mine in Oneida County on the county forest land,'" Brown said.
Hintz admitted the board could act against the wishes of the voters, but said it wasn't likely.
"I think it's a remote possibility. I do not give that a strong chance of success," he said.
"We don't have a social license to lease our public lands in the town of Lynne for mining. I hope that our county board will listen to what their constituency has made clear," said Pete Zambon, who handled communications and coordinated canvasses for Protect the Willow.
The Lac du Flambeau Tribe also fought hard for a "no" vote, on the ground and through television commercials.
"I think the people have spoken loud and clear," said tribal president Joseph Wildcat Sr. "A lot of the tribal community is happy, and also, I think, the residents of an area like the Willow. We're all trying to protect the resources."
Hintz said he was most impressed by the Oneida County turnout. More than 19,000 people voted on the mining question.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - President Donald Trump will begin his Independence Day weekend on Friday with a patriotic display of fireworks at Mount Rushmore, an event expected to draw thousands where masks and social distancing aren't required as coronavirus cases spike across the country.
Trump is expected to speak at the event, which has issued 7,500 tickets to watch fireworks that he says will be a "display like few people have seen."
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.
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.
- 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.
MADISON, WI - Cigarette smoking rates have dropped since Wisconsin's Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law went into effect 10 years ago.
In 2008, before the law passed, 20% of Wisconsin adults smoked cigarettes. By 2018, the rate had dropped to 16%. High school youth cigarette smoking rates dropped from nearly 21% in 2008 to nearly 5% in 2018.
State cigarette taxes were also increased during this time period and contribute to this reduction.
"Wisconsin is breathing easier today thanks to this law, but we know there are many people in our state who still smoke," said DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm. "We urge smokers to take advantage of the programs available to help them to quit, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people who smoke are believed to be more susceptible to the virus, and can become severely ill with it."
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