Ben Meyer

Special Topics Correspondent

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Ben took the newly-created position of Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR in September of 2019. For a year, he focused on reporting on water and water resource issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.

Starting in September 2020, Ben’s reporting focus has been on the new landscape of living, working, and playing in the Northwoods, a place mostly devoid of giant employers, but a home to many entrepreneurs, small businesses, and people working from home. The series is called Employed.

In addition to special topics reporting, Ben often contributes to daily news reporting and hosting on WXPR.

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 wife, Erika.  Outside of work, Ben is currently pursuing a law degree at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in the Twin Cities. He’s is an avid Brewers and Badgers fan, and 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

Three Wisconsin agencies want to know how PFAS compounds move and change as they work their way through water treatment systems.

The DNR, State Lab of Hygiene, and UW-Madison plan to kick off a study this fall.

DNR Wastewater Section Chief Jason Knutson said scientists plan to work with a dozen wastewater treatment plants in the state.  They want to learn if most PFAS compounds stick with solids or liquids when treated.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Gov. Tony Evers will call lawmakers into a special session to act on gun violence next month, saying it’s needed to save lives.

He announced the move in a swing of stops, including Wausau, on Monday.

“These are common-sense solutions that we know can save lives because they have already done so in states that have adopted them.  It’s that simple,” Evers said in Wausau.  “Two bills that we know, without a doubt, without ambiguity, this is what the majority of the people in the state want.”

UW-Madison

A retired UW-Madison professor believes Wisconsin has a crisis in deer management.

During a presentation at the Science in the Northwoods conference this month in Woodruff, Don Waller, the former John Curtis Professor of Botany and Environmental Studies, said the state has about two million deer.

That’s more than any time in about 10,000 years.

It’s an issue because deer eat about seven pounds of plants per day..

Wausau Pilot and Review

A Marathon County community will get a much-needed financial boost from the federal government.

This week, the USDA announced it will give the Village of Maine, just north of Wausau, about $1.5 million in grants and loans.

That’s to improve a deteriorating wastewater system.

Maine absorbed the former village of Brokaw not long after the community’s backbone, the Wausau Paper mill, closed down in 2012.

tonyevers.com

When Gov. Tony Evers took office in January, he could have put his priorities in a lot of different places.

But he chose to put a large amount of political muscle into improving drinking water in Wisconsin.

Just 15 days after he was inaugurated in January, he proclaimed 2019 the "Year of Clean Drinking Water” for the state.

Althea Dotzour Photography

A state organization called an Eagle River man “instrumental” for his role in helping protect natural places in northern Wisconsin.

Gathering Waters, Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts, honored Bryan Pierce with its Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award at a recent ceremony.

Pierce helped form the Northwoods Land Trust in 2001 and served as its executive director for 18 years.

Gathering Waters executive director Mike Carlson praised Pierce’s work for the area.

Courtesy of the candidates

Two Democrats entered the race on Monday to succeed Republican Sean Duffy in Congress.

Tricia Zunker is the president of the Wausau School Board and a justice on the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court.

She’s trying to become the first Native American elected to Congress from Wisconsin.

Businessman and Vietnam War veteran Lawrence Dale also will run as a Democrat.

Dale unsuccessfully challenged Duffy in 2014 as a Green Party candidate, then failed to win a Democratic primary for State Assembly in 2016.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Few drivers zipping along Northwoods roads probably think about the culverts they cross, culverts sending stream water underneath the pavement or gravel.

Instead, it’s Jon Simonsen’s job to worry about the structures, which play a major role in both transportation and fish habitat.

“People don’t give a culvert much thought, and they’ll pass over it.  But they think about it a lot when the road is washed out and the road has failed,” said Simonsen, a DNR transportation liaison.  “So that’s when it has become significant.”

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Shanai Matteson poured three small cups of water for Mary Moxon last Friday, putting them on a wooden board, like a flight of beers at a craft brewery.

“It’s very subtle, but water has different tastes, and it has to do with the mineral content of the water, the treatment of the water,” Matteson said.  “Sometimes it has to do with the pipes or the container that the water comes in.”

Matteson had just set up her table, called a popup Water Bar, at Project North, a music and sustainability festival in Rhinelander.

Church Mutual

Church Mutual Insurance Company and its employees donated more than $175,000 to the Merrill Area United Way this week.

That far exceeded the fundraising goal set by the Merrill-based company, and beat last year’s total by more than $20,000.

Since 2000, Church Mutual has contributed more than $1.5 million to the Merrill Area United Way.

The company is the nation’s largest insurer of religious organizations.

Ben Meyer/WJFW

Forest County District Attorney Chuck Simono nearly got emotional when he learned help was on the way.

He’s been the only prosecutor in the county since 2008.

But this month, the administration of Gov. Tony Evers announced Forest County would get one of the 65 new assistant district attorney positions added statewide.

“According to state statistics, I’m doing the work of three prosecutors because our workload is so heavy,” Simono said.  “It’s a 24/7 job.”

He’s been asking for another prosecutor in his office for much of that time.

More than 180 local government leaders in Wisconsin want the governor and legislature to take swift action to prevent incidents of mass violence.

Mayors, police chiefs, and administrators all signed a letter to Gov. Tony Evers, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke and Hurley Mayor Paul Mullard are among the signers of the letter, which was sent by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

  

A Hurley attorney will serve as the new Iron County Circuit Court Judge after he was appointed by Gov. Tony Evers Thursday.

Tony Stella will fill the vacancy created by the July death of longtime judge Patrick Madden.

Stella served to stints as Iron County District Attorney in the 1980s and 1990s and is a graduate of Hurley High School.               

“Tony Stella has been a lifelong advocate for the people of Iron County,” said Evers in a press release.  “He has the temperament, knowledge, and experience to be an excellent judge.”  

Jim Albert

Twenty-one-year-old Kai Movrich has enough to worry about.

On top of working at Contrast Coffee in downtown Ironwood, she owns and is an instructor at a dance studio in town.

She didn’t need her tap water at home to be a problem, too.  But she found something gross when she moved into a new house in July.

“Through our faucet in our bathroom, when we turned the spouts on as soon as they turned our water on, we actually had sediment coming through our spouts,” Movrich said.  “We’re talking rocks the size of nickels.”

Her frustration isn’t unique.

Ben Meyer/WJFW

The role of the century-old paper mill in Park Falls may be much different after the sale of the business last week.

Price County Judge Kevin Klein granted a new company, Element Ventures, ownership of the mill after it had gone into receivership.

Park Falls Mayor Michael Bablick expects the Flambeau River Papers mill to reopen under new ownership with about 50 employees, a fraction of what it had in early 2018.

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