Ben Meyer

Special Topics Correspondent

Ben took the newly-created position of Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR in September of 2019.  He has a specific focus through his grant-funded position: reporting on water and water resources in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Through his on air and online reporting, Ben explores water as a necessity for life and as an identity for the region.

Prior to joining the WXPR team, Ben spent more than seven years serving in several roles at WJFW-TV in Rhinelander.

Originally from Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, Ben is a graduate of UW-Madison. He lives in Rhinelander with his fiancee, Erika.  Outside of work, Ben is an avid Brewers and Badgers fan.  He enjoys doing outdoor projects, running, and competing in triathlons.  Ben is also a WIAA basketball official and calls play-by-play for Rhinelander Hodags sports.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Wisconsin landfills are concerned they’re taking the blame for PFAS contamination.

But a new coalition of solid waste professionals points out landfills and recycling centers don’t produce the chemicals, they only receive them from other sources.

Wikimedia

Twenty-seven legislators want the state to drop plans to close Unemployment Insurance Appeals locations in northern Wisconsin.

In a letter dated Tuesday, the rural lawmakers asked the Department of Workforce Development to leave the locations in Appleton and Eau Claire open.

If the locations close, people would be forced to travel to Madison or Milwaukee for an in-person unemployment insurance hearing.

Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry

A convicted child sex offender was able to move from the Crandon area to Antigo because of a judge’s order in May.

On Monday, the Antigo Police Department announced Jeffrey Levasseur, 53, is now living in Antigo.  Levasseur was convicted of sexually assaulting three children in the 1990s and served time in secure state treatment facilities.

Greg Matzke

Perhaps more than any other fish, northern Wisconsin identifies with the walleye.

But walleye populations in many local lakes have been struggling.            

Some are even at risk of disappearing completely, as the populations are no longer naturally reproducing.

Fisheries biologists have had to get creative to try to address the problem, and they’re doing it in different ways in different parts of the Northwoods.

The Minocqua chain is a prime example.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

During a marathon meeting last month, the Oneida County Board approved funding for things like the UW-Extension and county fair.

At the same time, it rejected giving money to ten capital improvement projects.

At least two of those projects, the sheriff’s office says, are crucial for public safety in the county.

In a tour of the jail not long after the vote, Oneida County Jail Administrator Mark Neuman said he believes contraband has gotten into his building because the jail lacks a body scanner.

“Absolutely.  I know it has, in fact,” Neuman said bluntly.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

The name of the shop caught Mark Kerznar’s attention.

“It’s called Glazed and Confused,” he said.  “I’m sitting there, I’m going, ‘It’s called what?’”

The sign, including a logo of a donut with red eyes flashing a peace sign, put it over the top.

“In talking to the Sheriff, he figured we were going to see, pardon my French, we were going to see a real s***storm heading our way.  We’re a border county,” Kerznar said.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Oneida County could have a Boys and Girls Club as soon as next fall, if everything goes as planned.

The effort is being steered by Rhinelander Police Det. Sgt. Kyle Parish, who saw a void in the community that could be filled by a Boys and Girls Club in the city.

The club offers afterschool activities, homework help, and food for kids of all ages.

“It’s a safe place for them to go.  Unlike other organizations that help build things, this is an everyday thing during the school week, then every single day during the summer,” Parish said.

Bill Ball

A Phillips woman shot her first-ever buck in her first-ever gun deer hunt on Saturday.

She did it at age 104.

Florence Teeters had never gotten a hunting license before.

"Yes, it was her idea to get the license.  And, yes, that was her first license," her son, Bill Teeters, said in a DNR press release.

She shot the buck on her family’s land in Price County.

Preliminary data shows Teeters is the oldest person to buy a gun deer license and oldest to shoot a deer.           

Ben Meyer/WXPR

At its peak, more than 30,000 electric customers were without power in northern Wisconsin after the storm that swept through Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Snowfall across most of the region finally stopped Wednesday afternoon after a foot of accumulation.

Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport director Matthew Leitner began driving a snowplow himself at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning to clear the taxiway for a Delta flight.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Rhinelander Mayor Chris Frederickson says he tried to get the state to provide clear direction on rising levels of a PFAS compound in a city well, but got nothing.

Instead, Frederickson himself ordered the well shut down last Friday.

Well 8 became the second Rhinelander city water well shut down due to PFAS concerns, joining Well 7.  Various types of compounds in the PFAS family have been linked to health risks.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Rhinelander Mayor Chris Frederickson ordered a second city water well shut down Friday as levels of a PFAS-family chemical continued to rise.

Earlier this month, WXPR reported Well 8 was still providing water to the city as concentrations of PFHxS continued upward.

On Friday, Frederickson said those levels caused him to order the shutoff.

Rhinelander City Administrator Daniel Guild is the subject of a felony investigation involving several agencies, documents obtained Friday show.

The documents, a pair of search warrants, show investigators seized 27 pieces of evidence during a lockdown of Rhinelander City Hall on Thursday.  Follow the links below to view the warrants.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Note:  This story has been updated to include a comment from Alderwoman Dawn Rog.

Three sheriff’s offices and the Wisconsin Department of Justice locked Rhinelander City Hall on Thursday as they executed two state search warrants.

The investigation is into potential charges of tampering with public records and misconduct in public office, according to Oneida County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dan Hess.

Both crimes are felonies, and Hess confirmed the investigation focuses on a current city employee.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

In the late 1990s, when Patrick Taylor moved back to his Merrill hometown, he bought a house on the water.

It was one of more than a hundred homes on a mill pond created by the old Ward paper mill dam.

“It was a great area for duck hunting,” Taylor said.

Other people on the water fished, swam, or canoed.

Then, Taylor learned the water was about to disappear.

“The day after we closed on the house, they announced the removal of the dam,” he said in an interview this week.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Note: this story has been updated to include comments from the DNR's Kyle Burton in a Tuesday interview.  Rhinelander City Administrator Daniel Guild has been invited to comment.

In a letter to Rhinelander City Administrator Daniel Guild on Tuesday, the Wisconsin DNR said it had “no reason to question the accuracy” of tests showing high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in a city water well.

Pages