KATHLEEN VINEHOUT
PEOPLE FIRST

Enjoy 100 Miles of Christmas

“It’s the holidays,” the Buffalo County man told me. “It’s time to enjoy all we have here.” This farmer will be joining many others who take time to travel the Great River Road during the Holiday Season.

Communities along the Mississippi River are rolling out the welcome mat for holiday travelers. They want you to come and enjoy the season in the snow covered hills and historical river towns.

This month’s Midwest Living features a story about Christmas along the river. Writer Jeff Hoffert and photographer John Noltner explore Minnesota and Wisconsin towns along more than 100 miles of the river.
Read more

Recent School Referenda Pass; Voters Show Strong Support for Local Schools

“I voted for the referendum,” the Mondovi woman told me. “I don’t have kids. I know it’s going to raise my property taxes. I don’t want to pay more, but I think we need to keep good schools.”

All across Wisconsin voters chose to raise property taxes in support of their schools by passing school referenda.

Ten years ago only 24% of school referenda passed. This year 68% passed. No year in the past 20 comes close to that percentage except 2012.
Read more

Audit Reminds Us: Retirement Funds Bear Careful Watching

“What’s going on with the state retirement system?” the retired woman asked me. She’d started a business but needed retirement income to keep things going. “Wisconsin’s system is the best funded in the country,” I told her. “But we’ve got to carefully watch what happens there.”

More than one out of ten Wisconsinites participates in the Wisconsin’s Retirement System (WRS) either as a current or former state or local government employee. Countless more family members depend on a well-run system to keep their aging relatives out of poverty.

As reported by the La Crosse Tribune in June of 2012, “Wisconsin is the only state in the nation to receive high marks for its public employee pension system.” The article commented on work of the Pew Center for States. Over the years Pew has released several reports analyzing states’ obligation to their employees. Many states have a large funding gap but not Wisconsin.
Read more

Deer Hunters Ask "What About that Private/Public Thing?"

“What happens if I have a public permit because I’m not rich enough to afford a private one?” the deer hunter asked me. “I shoot a deer and it runs across the road. There’s my deer. It’s not dead. But I don’t have a private permit to go get it.”

“It just seems to me that the new rules are set up to force people to lease hunting land because there are more permits on private land than public land.”

Deer hunters taking to the woods in Wisconsin are facing a slew of new hunting rules. Hunters will experience the long-talked-about rules of the Texan ‘Deer Czar’ James Kroll.
Read more