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Baldwin introduces legislation to make housing more affordable for volunteer first respondersSubmitted: 12/04/2019
Story By Stephen Goin

Baldwin introduces legislation to make housing more affordable for volunteer first responders
RHINELANDER - Volunteer fire fighters give a lot to the communities they serve with little reward.

A new bill wants to make it easier for them to live where they love.

"In Wisconsin specifically, most fire departments are staffed mostly or entirely by volunteers," said Sen. Tammy Baldwin "They're [fire departments] just continually finding it difficult to meet staffing needs and especially attract younger volunteers."

Recently, Baldwin introduced a new bill to help first responders apply for housing benefits.


"The volunteer first responders housing act would make part time firefighters and EMTs eligible for two key housing benefit programs," said Baldwin.

The bill expands eligibility for qualified volunteer emergency responders to participate in certain federal housing assistance programs.

The Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Good Neighbor Next Door Sales Program would give volunteer firefighters and EMTs a 50% discount from the list price of a home located in a revitalization area.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - The Pioneer Park Historical Complex is popular not only among tourists but also school field trips and Rhinelander natives.

The buildings give people an endless amount of historical background on the city and surrounding areas.

Like many city-owned places, the complex operates mainly on donations.

In the past the museum has had trouble accepting the donations of larger amounts and tax-deductible ones.

Until a recent partnership, the museum was unable to accept donations of large amounts and tax-deductible ones.

The new alliance with the Rhinelander Community Foundation led to the creation of a general fund.

Creators of the fund George and Sondra Juetten will match any donation up to $25,000 to the fund.

Museum director Kerry Bloedorn says the new partnership opens up more opportunities towards projects at the park.

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ST. GERMAIN - The St. Germain Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first ever 'Sunday Funday.' 

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St. Germain's Chamber of Commerce Exec. Director Penny Strom said she wants this to be an opportunity for people to get outside while being safe.

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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.

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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.

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