Seven persons have died in fires this week in Wisconsin and an American Red Cross spokesperson says it's time for everyone to check for fire hazards.

Two children in Sheboygan Falls died this week in a house fire. Another fire in Antigo injured a teenager. Several other fires have been reported in the Northwoods this winter.

American Red Cross spokesperson Barbara Behling says fires kill more people each year than tornadoes, hurricanes and lightning strikes combined. She says one of the deadly fire starters is smoking in bed...

Aspirus and WPS Health Solutions announced the formation of a new health insurance company in north-central Wisconsin.

Called Aspirus Arise, the company will begin marketing individual marketplace, small and large group and self-funded plans in 16 counties in this region. A holding company owned equally by Aspirus and WPS will provide governance of the new company.

President and CEO of Aspirus Arise Brett Davis says the goal is to provide an affordable healthcare option..

Area Chambers Say Winter Tourism is Picking Up

Jan 27, 2016

  El Nino hindered the first half of winter halting major fundraisers and tourism for local communities. But with the last couple of weeks dipping into sub zero temperatures and a couple inches of snow area chambers report winter activity is picking up around the Northwoods. Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce Director Krystal Westfahl says business owners were prepared for the El Nino year, but remained optimistic.

Final Pre-Referendum Meeting Held At Northland Pines

Jan 27, 2016

The final public information meeting on a proposed $3.9 million Northland Pines school district referendum for the next three years set for a vote Feb. 16 was held at the high school in Eagle River with four members of the public present.

Two resolutions to expand the Vilas county courthouse narrowly passed the county board this week.

An original resolution for $16 million dollars was amended after the board decided not to add the additional space for another courtroom at this time.

The board adopted a resolution first funding two phases of the expansion, known as 1 and 1B, at a price of more than $10 million. That would add just under 36,000 square feet for that cost. The board needed a two-thirds majority to pass that resolution which it did 15-4.

The DNR is taking another round of public comment on a proposed 10-year panfish management plan.

DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter says the plan aims to improve panfish opportunities for anglers including restoring size structure on lakes where smaller fish have become more prevalent in recent years, improving habitat, engaging anglers and supporting research on panfish. He says other species have their own plan..

CANtastic Event Needs More Build Teams

Jan 26, 2016

  The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry and the Rouman Cinema are sponsoring their 6th annual CANtastic event, but are in need of more teams. CANtastic is a competition area businesses showcase their talents by constructing sculptures made with canned foods. The creations are judged based on color, creativity and complexity. Director Guy Hansen says this year’s theme is “drive out hunger,” and all food used will be donated to the food pantry.

Nicolet Area Technical College

Students have another option to raise money for classes at Nicolet College as the college Foundation is accepting online scholarships now through February 26.

Foundation Executive Director Heather Schallock says they expect to award more than 250 scholarships....

"....for most of our scholarships we require a 2.5 cumulative GPA. There are a few scholarships that require a higher GPA, but for the most part, that is accurate. We also have part-time scholarships for students enrolled in part-time credits...."

Legislation has been proposed in Madison that would make some broad changes in how the state and counties administer local veterans services.

Among the provisions, it would allow counties the option to keep the current arrangement for a County Veteran Service Officer, or not have a local officer and go into a consortium with other counties. Currently the CVSO's are mandated by the Wisconsin statutes in each county. It would allow non-veterans to be that CVSO and eliminate several duties now done locally and put them under the direction of the state.

Energy Saving Projects Approved By LUHS

Jan 26, 2016

The Lakeland Union High School Board has selected a Milwaukee company to act as a general contractor to oversee nearly 40 projects that could save the district $65,000 in energy savings each year for the next two decades.

The district spends over $330,000 annually for electricity and natural gas bills, as well as for related maintenance.

Business Services Director Greg Kopp explains why the timing is right to do the projects:

A second of three public information meetings on the proposed $3.9 million Northland Pines school district referendum for the next three years scheduled for a vote Feb. 16 was held last night at the Land O' Lakes elementary school before a small group of school employees and three members of the public.

  The Northern Wisconsin Initiative to Stop Homelessness Continuum of Care is partnering with coalitions around the state to complete a homelessness count the night of January 27. The count will cover Forest, Langlade, Oneida and Vilas counties. Volunteer Lori Hallas says staff and volunteers will count persons in shelters, streets, under bridges or similar places not meant for human habitation.

Next month high school seniors and others have a chance to get instant help filling out the forms needed to apply for college financial aid.

Each winter, College Goal Wisconsin is held at a number of places around the state.

Nicolet College is hosting a session on February 27 at the Learning Resources Center. A few days earlier, February 24, a session is scheduled at the Education Center in Lac du Flambeau.

Nicolet College Director of Financial Aid, Jill Price, says by going to these sessions, many questions about financing your schooling can get answered...

The League of Women Voters of the Northwoods is inviting citizens to a forum involving the 22 candidates for the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors. League spokesperson Jane Trotter says the event is designed for the public to meet and ask questions of the candidates...

"....its non-partisan as county board seats are non-partisan. There are 22 seats open. It's an opportunity for them to meet their constituents..."

Trotter says the audience will submit questions and there also will be questions on specific issues...

Wild Ponies Talk Honest Songwriting

Jan 26, 2016