Northwoods employers look to fill workforce, line up to hire laid-off workers from Drs. Foster and SmithSubmitted: 01/11/2019
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Northwoods employers look to fill workforce, line up to hire laid-off workers from Drs. Foster and Smith
RHINELANDER, LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Wednesday's announcement of mass layoffs at Drs. Foster and Smith (DFS) in Rhinelander triggered disappointment and frustration.

But it set other Northwoods companies into motion.

Businesses starved for workers see it as an opportunity see an opportunity to fill their open jobs while helping laid-off workers.

Curt Priefer first thought about the layoff news was its "devastating" effect for Rhinelander.

His second thought was about his own company.

"Looking to help those individuals relocate, possibly here at HyPro," Priefer said.

Priefer is the operations manager at HyPro, a Rhinelander manufacturer. The company wants to hire 15 to 20 new machine operators with no experience necessary.

Although the type of work is different from DFS, a pet supply distributor, the location isn't. HyPro is just a few hundred feet from DFS, which is owned by Petco.

"Not only are we neighbors to Petco, but we're looking to offer opportunities for those individuals to slide over into something new, stay in the community, and grow in the community," Priefer said. "HyPro's truly about a culture, family-orientated business, one that creates and inspires growth opportunities."

Other Northwoods employers hope to catch the attention of laid-off workers, too.

"I went to, 'How can I get ahold of all these great employees?'" said Juanita Huguley, the Director of Lending Operations at LDF Holdings in Lac du Flambeau. "Some of them have customer service skills or call center experience."

Huguley manages the lending services call center. More than 100 of the workers to be laid off from DFS work in its call center, and Huguley wants them.

"That kind of talent is rare in this area, and to get some of those people here would be amazing," Huguley said. "I can't wait to get ahold of them."

Huguley says her salary is competitive, benefits are good, and workplace is relaxed.

"I enjoy working here. The competitive wages, the flexible schedule, it's a very diverse working space. Very positive," said Laurie Wildcat, who has worked there nine months.

"You're coming to work today, but it's not really work. You're coming to a gathering of great minds," said Antoinette Beaudry, an operations supervisor.

The call center will join HyPro in the chase for DFS workers who won't have a job come March 10.

"I really want to let the team members of Petco know we're here, and we would love to hear from you," Priefer said.

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(Suspects identified clockwise, beginning with upper-left: Robert Daniels, Andrew Phillips, Richard Harris, Geraldine Dubray, Allyssa Wamego, Tammy Mann)

A report of a noisy house party and fight near Crandon led to six drug-related arrests earlier this month.  Officers eventually found heroin, cocaine, and guns along with other drug items inside, but getting there took some extra work.

According to a release from the Forest County Sheriff's Office, police responded to a home at 7840 Love Knot Lane in the Town of Lincoln, which is east of Crandon, on March 7 around 7:15 p.m.

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CRANDON - Recently, flooding closed roads and frustrated communities from Rhinelander to Plover. A bad combination of rain and melting snow led to days of flood warnings. As those warnings go away, a related risk could do a lot more than frustrate you - it could make you sick. Flooding can cause contamination in wells, but the Northwoods is lucky to have a world-class water testing facility.

RT Krueger's Northern Lake Service in Crandon has about 50 specialized machines that test drinking water for half of the municipalities in Wisconsin. Krueger tests Rhinelander's water three times a week. Every year 65,000 water samples flow in and out of this lab.

"The safe drinking water testing for the city of Madison is being performed up in little tiny Crandon," said Krueger.

Many people have their own wells, which are not tested regularly like municipal water. If your well is submerged due to flooding, filtered groundwater mixes with potentially harmful surface water.

"You're introducing the bacteria and all the compounds and organisms that are normally above the water that you're drawing," said Krueger.

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VILLAGE OF HEWITT - Monday around 7 A.M. Wood County police responded to a man who was run over by a dump truck in the Village of Hewitt.

When the police arrived they were informed by emergency responders that the man's injuries were fatal.

The victim of the accident was 77-years-old.

Police have ruled the death as an accident, and it was determined that the subjects involved were performing maintenance on the dump truck when the accident happened.

The Wood County Sheriff's Department, Hewitt EMS, Marshfield Ambulance, and the Wood County Coroner's Office all responded to the accident.

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander man could face prison time after police arrested him in an online underage sex sting.  Oneida County prosecutors charged Adam Van Roy with three felonies on Monday.

A Wisconsin Department of Justice Special Agent working with the Oneida County Sheriff's Office posed as a 19-year-old woman named 'Julia G' on several social media applications March 13-15.  Van Roy, 36, started talking with 'Julia' during that time.  

'Julia' soon told Van Roy she was actually only 15 years old.

The agent's notes show Van Roy asked 'Julia' for pictures, including nude images, and asked her "what do you like in the bedroom?"

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MILWAUKEE - Officials say a man shot by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee police on campus is hospitalized in stable condition.

University Police Chief Joe LeMire said at a news conference Tuesday two officers found the man, armed with a gun, sleeping on a bench in the Fine Arts Complex building around 7 a.m., an altercation occurred and he was shot. The police officers were treated for minor injuries.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 03/19/2019

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We talk to a snowplow driver in Lincoln County who says he was attacked with a baseball bat after accidently knocking down a mailbox.

We'll take you to the ribbon cutting for a new utility garage in Stevens Point and show you some sustainable design features that are part of the facility including the largest solar array in Central Wisconsin.

And we'll speak with a water testing specialist in Crandon to go over the importance of testing groundwater especially after there has been flooding in the area.

We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - An RV and a bowlful of stress ball lemons arrived at the Marshfield Clinic on North Shore Drive in Rhinelander on Monday.  Both were to help women focus on their own health.

Marshfield Clinic's mobile mammography van offered free breast cancer screenings for women who qualified through the Wisconsin Well Woman Program.  The WWWP pays for those screenings for women between the ages of 45 to 64 who don't have insurance or can't afford co-pays based on certain income standards.

Organizers welcomed any woman, even if they just came to ask questions, as part of its "Women Empowering Women" push.

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