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It's a waiting game in the Douglas County. Layoff threats have prosecutors on the edge of their seats. In light of the state's budget crunch, an unspecified number of assistant district attorneys face layoffs. Neither they nor their elected bosses know which counties could be affected or when. They do know the layoffs would hurt offices already straining to keep up with caseloads. "We've got two vulnerable positions," said District Attorney Dan Blank. With two full-time and one part-time position, Douglas County has the highest number of assistants in the northwest corner of the state.
After talking about the jobs of tomorrow, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman got hands-on instruction in one at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-Superior. She watched as Joshua Kagie connected hoses and manipulated the flow on a hydraulic fluid trainer in the Amatrol lab. Gassman asked questions, ducked down to check the flow meter and took time to talk to Kagie about his goals. The Superior man worked for nearly five years as a tool and die machinist, but his job was recently cut.
The former Superior Housing Authority director who stole $10,000 from the agency will spend 90 days in jail as a condition of probation. Debra Lynn Waterman, 51, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft - one felony and one misdemeanor - in Douglas County Court last week for charging thousands of dollars in personal purchases on the SHA credit card while she served as the agency's director.
The town of Gordon offers a cure for cabin fever. Winterfest kicks off at 2 p.m. Saturday. with ice skating, sledding, snow bowling, a warming fire and free indoor crafts, all in the heart of Gordon. At 8 p.m., Chetek-based band the Twerps will rock the town hall. "The Twerps specialize in getting people involved," said Karen Griffin, a member of the Gordon parks and recreation committee, which planned the event. "They're very high energy." Last year, the committee launched Winterfest to raise money to revitalize the town park.
The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development has linked Northland libraries, approved funding for a Parkland sewer project and repaired roofs over the heads of area families. The agency wants to do more. Money is available for homeowners, businesses and community facilities through the USDA. Area Specialist Sue LaPorte will be in town 11 a.m.
For 28 years, Betty Prinz has been serving up smiles to seniors at the Lake Nebagamon Auditorium through the Elderly Nutrition Program. "I was there the day it opened," said Prinz, who now lives in Superior. Over the years, she has volunteered in the kitchen, led Friday bingo games and driven meals to homebound seniors.
A Douglas County meal program aimed at seniors feeds many hungers. The elderly nutrition program, headed by Senior Connections, provides lunch to seniors age 60 and older - either delivered to their door or at congregate meal sites. A varied menu encourages them to try new things. "Sometimes it's their only meal of the day," said Steve Westerlund, a volunteer at the Wentworth meal site. "If it's their only meal, they've gotten a good meal.
Here in the Northwood, residents have taken the Scout motto of "be prepared" to heart. A recent survey found that 30 percent of respondents in northwest Wisconsin were prepared for an emergency, the highest percentage in the state. "I feel pretty good that our citizens were the most prepared population," said Keith Kesler, emergency management coordinator for Douglas County.
Northwest Wisconsin K-9 units converged on Superior High School and Superior Middle School Monday for training. The dogs and their handlers walked through both buildings, checking lockers for drugs, according to Superior Police Capt. Chad La Lor. Although nothing was found at the high school, dogs "hit" on one of the lockers at the middle school, according to Capt. Matt Markon of the Superior Police Department. Suspected marijuana shake - an extremely small amount of substance similar to pepper flakes - was found in a backpack in the locker.
The Yellowjacket Union was buzzing with activity Tuesday. As the grand opening event for the new building drew near, University of Wisconsin-Superior students could be seen chatting, eating, reading, working on laptops and sharing hugs. "Everyone seems to love it," said Kasey Jones, a UWS junior majoring in studio art. The $22 million building, paid for with student fees and the Campaign Superior fund, replaces Rothwell Student Center. "It's a lot better than RSC," said sophomore Tad Hildebrandt.