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Lawmaker listening session focuses on Drs. Foster and Smith closureSubmitted: 01/29/2019
Story By Ben Meyer

Lawmaker listening session focuses on Drs. Foster and Smith closure
RHINELANDER - Rhinelander would love another large employer to come to town, taking the place of Drs. Foster and Smith (DFS).

That's not on the table right now. But if it was, Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) said he'd consider exploring tax breaks for that company.

It was one of the things Tiffany and Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) told the crowd at a listening session Tuesday in Rhinelander.

"Rhinelander is still the hub of the north. Everything happens and centers around Rhinelander. I think there's good things yet to come in Rhinelander," Swearingen said.


Earlier this month, Petco, which owns DFS, announced it was closing most of its operations. The move impacts 289 employees.

"Does it hurt our community? Yes, it hurts our community. But sometimes, when you get hurt, you get stronger, too. That's truly what I hope for," Rhinelander Mayor Chris Frederickson said. "In the absence of great prosperity, challenges come, and when they come, that's opportunity for us to stand and rise."

State-funded unemployment and workforce employees started meeting with DFS workers this week. A job fair is being planned for the end of February.

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RHINELANDER - Musicians gathered at Nicolet College for a night of collaboration. The local band Boat Patrol set up the event.

Boat Patrol keyboardist Daleth Mountjoy wanted to showcase the great talent in Rhinelander. He also said its always fun to play with other people.

"We've got a lot of people that are doing some really cool things," said Mountjoy. "We can take what they're doing and add our own little flavor to it. So it's not just showcasing someone else. It's collaborating with these other musicians and taking their songs and making them into something new and something fun."

Mountjoy said he met many of the artists at the monthly ArtStart open mic series "In Progress" in Rhinelander. One of those artists is Nate Sheppard.

Sheppard said playing with others makes him a better musician. He also thinks the event is a great way for the musicians to support each other.

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RHINELANDER - Vehicles with loud exhaust can be very annoying. The exhaust can also be expensive if you get a citation that's around 200 dollars.

Wisconsin requires people to maintain their exhaust system and to have a muffler in working condition. Oneida County Sheriff Patrol Sergeant Brad Fogerty says the biggest problem is during the winter.

"Exhausts can fail at any time during the year," said Oneida County Patrol Sergeant Brad Fogerty. "In northern Wisconsin with the winters we have and the amount of salts that is used on the road, that commonly will disintegrate a lot of our exhaust systems. Exhaust can get loud for a variety of reasons. Poor maintenance, exhaust can just wear out over time, or it can just become defective or altered with after-market products."

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NEWBOLD - The Newbold Outdoor Recreation Center will soon have a new building.

Blackwell Job Corps provided the labor for the town to build the facility.

Builders put in a concrete slab for the foundation one month ago to start the project.

An instructor at Blackwell says that building will help store items. 

"This storage shed is going to be for them to store their equipment for their disc golf facility," said Jim Flannery, A construction craft labor instructor at Blackwell. "They have lawnmowers and UTV's and things like that to go into this facility." 

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Thousands of visitors filled the Northwoods this summer helping the state see a 12% increase in tourist arrivals.

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MERRILL - There are more kittens than the shelter would like at the Lincoln County Humane Society. 
 
"Overcrowding, especially during peak times of year that are nicknamed 'kitten season', is a really big problem for shelters everywhere," said shelter manager Liz Friedenfels.

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HARSHAW - A deadly mosquito-borne illness claimed the lives of two more people in the Midwest early this week. Only a handful of cases are reported each year and the illness is often a death sentence. 

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RHINELANDER - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports this summer was one of the hottest globally on record, and it's becoming a trend. The five warmest June through August periods have all occurred in the last five years.

Retired Rhinelander DNR Water Specialist Tom Jerow said action needs to be taken now on fossil fuel emissions. If nothing is done, Jerow said Wisconsin may feel like a southern state for part of the year.

"Some of the predictions are that are summers in Wisconsin will feel more like St. Louis than they will like Wisconsin," said Jerow.

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