Natalie Jablonski

Community Features Editor

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Public School Choice Time
2:38 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Open Enrollment Period Begins

School districts hope more students enroll there, as it brings more state resources.
Credit Christopher Sessums

Open enrollment begins this week.  Wisconsin families have the option of enrolling their kids in any public school district, even if they live outside its boundaries.  

  For some districts open enrollment brings more revenue, while for others it draws resources out of the area. 

Northland Pines right now is losing about 70 students, but has a net positive gain with around 85 coming in.   District Administrator Mike Richie says they’ve been on the positive end of the equation since 2010, and he keeps a close eye on the numbers. 

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Fixing Frozen Pipes is Expensive
6:14 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Rhinelander to Run Water All Day and Night

It's cheaper for 3400 customers to run water constantly than to keep thawing frozen pipes.
Credit Scott Akerman

Rhinelander water users are being asked to run their water 24/7 to prevent frozen pipes. 

Tim Kingman, Rhinelander Director of Public Works, says the city has been thawing out dozens of households every day. 

“At a certain point in time, we have to make some hard decisions here to let this water be run on a system wide basis.  The reason we do so is it’s the best economy we can get.”

Thawing out frozen pipes for hundreds of people is very expensive.    Running water constantly is also expensive, but still cheaper than the alternative. 

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School Closed Unexpectedly
5:28 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Heat Problems Resolved at Central

In Rhinelander, Central Intermediate School is scheduled to be open Tuesday after Monday's unexpected closing.  School District officials say part of the school’s electrical system failed, affecting the heat in the building. 

Staff became aware of the problem around 6 am and called WPS. 

But the announcement software designed to alert parents of school closings also malfunctioned.  Rhinelander Schools Superintendent Kelli Jacobi says parents were notified late.

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Maintaining Bone Health
4:00 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Vitamin D Supplements May Keep Bones Strong

Vitamin D could help prevent osteoporosis and falls in older adults.  That’s the message from an aging specialist from Madison giving a talk at this week’s Science on Tap discussion.    

Winter in the Northwoods means…not a lot of sunshine.  And that means not a lot of Vitamin D.  Dr Neil Binkley is Director of the Osteoporosis Clinical Research program at UW Madison.  WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski talked with Dr. Binkley to find out why Vitamin D supplements might be important for preventing osteoporosis and bone fractures.    

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Cold Winter Means Big Payments
3:06 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Hundreds Seek Assistance With Energy Bills

High propane bills are squeezing budgets for lower income households.
Credit Jason Woodhead

Families and individuals struggling to pay high heat bills may be able to get help.  Northwoods state lawmakers stopped in Rhinelander today to spread the word about the nonprofit Keep Wisconsin Warm fund.

That program has expanded its income limits to 80 percent of the state median income…to try and help more working households who may be feeling the pinch. 

Senator Tom Tiffany, and Representatives Rob Swearingin, Jeff Mursau and Mary Czaja each donated a hundred dollars to the fund.  Tiffany noted donations can be routed to aid whichever county you choose.  

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Surviving Cold Temperatures
12:05 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Deer Population, Hunt Could Suffer This Winter

Deep snow and cold temperatures tap winter energy reserves.
Credit Rennett Stowe

The harsh winter we’re experiencing could affect this year’s deer hunting season.  Biologists are predicting low numbers of antlerless permits to give the deer population a chance to rebound. 

DNR Big Game Specialist Kevin Wallenfang says deer are well adapted for cold, but it still takes a toll. 

“A year like this, where we started in November – their fat reserves were being taxed very early in the year.  We’ve had very cold temperatures, very deep snow – all of the things that can hurt them kind of are going on right now.” 

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Mentors Connect with Kids
3:27 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Big Brothers Big Sisters Expands in Northwoods

From left: Mary Kinnunen, Northwoods Development and Marketing Coordinator; Cookie Lough, Northwoods Match Specialist; and Craig Monson, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

A mentoring program is expanding its reach in this part of the Northwoods.  

The Eau Claire-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin is expanding to cover Oneida and Vilas counties.  It will also cover Taylor and Price counties.  The program matches up mentors and mentees, or “bigs” and “littles” to provide role models to kids who might be having a hard time. 

CEO Craig Monson says that mentor positive relationship can have real impacts. 

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No Income Limits
10:26 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Ruby's Pantry to Deliver in Rhinelander

Ruby's Pantry is set to drop off up to tens of thousands of pounds of food each month in Rhinelander.
Credit Salvation Army USA West

Rhinelander will soon be home to a new food pantry.  Ruby’s Pantry is slated to make a large delivery of surplus and donated food once a month. 

Organizer Chrissy Peterson says she originally had trouble finding the right space to house what could be thousands of pounds of food and hundreds of people.   Eventually she found Grace Foursquare Church on Highway 17. 

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Spreading to Nearby States
3:00 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

DNR On Alert for Potential Bat Disease

The above little brown bat affected with white nose syndrome was found in Greenley Mine, Vermont.
Credit Marvin Moriarty / US Fish and Wildlife Service

Biologists are on the lookout for signs of a spreading fungus that could affect bats in Wisconsin.  

Signs of the deadly white nose syndrome have been found in neighboring states and as close as 30 miles from the Wisconsin border, but haven’t yet appeared here. 

DNR Conservation Biologist Paul White says preventative measures may have helped.  All cave bats in Wisconsin are listed as threatened, and officials enforce decontamination procedures at public caving sites. 

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Part of Statewide Effort
4:00 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Groups to Conduct Winter Homeless Count

Volunteers will be scouring four counties this Wednesday night to tally the area’s homeless population. 

The point-in-time count is conducted by a coalition of groups called Northern Wisconsin Initiative to Stop Homelessness, including Oneida County UW Extension and Forward Service Corporation.  It covers Forest, Langlade, Oneida and Vilas Counties. 

Coordinator Lori Hallas explains the count is an important tool to measure the homeless population.   

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