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 wife, 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.

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.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

The DNR admitted putting new rules on PFAS in groundwater, drinking water, and surface water will have a “significant” economic impact on the state.

DNR staff also listened to the public, environmentalists, and industry groups at a hearing over a proposed PFAS regulation scope statement last week.

Wisconsin is in the early steps of regulating PFAS, a family of chemicals with health hazards.

Marathon County

The Marathon County Board revived funding for five nonprofits at a budget meeting Thursday night.

Six others will have their funding cut by a quarter.

The board had originally planned to cut 25 percent of the funding to all 11 nonprofits, but held onto full funding for the North Central Action Committee, The Women's Community, United Way's 2-1-1 program, the Educational Bootcamp, and the Marathon County Historical Society.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Once again on Thursday, a Vilas County committee rejected Trig Solberg’s attempt to collect water from a well in Presque Isle for commercial bottling.

Over a span of nearly five years, Solberg’s group has been blocked time and again by judges, boards, and administrators.  It wants to take water from near rural Carlin Lake, bottle it, and sell it in stores.  Solberg is the founder of Trig’s supermarkets.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Jim and Ruth Brennan thought the days of iron ore mining in northern Wisconsin were over.

So when Gogebic Taconite started drawing up plans about earlier this decade for a massive mine near their home in southern Ashland County, they were surprised, to say the least.

“A three- or four-mile ditch that would actually come within about a mile of our house,” said Jim Brennan.

Jim and Ruth live in the town of Morse, near Mellen and Copper Falls State Park.

Their unique house overlooks Lake Galilee.

Ascension/Tom Weaver

Two Northwoods hospitals have patient safety problems, according to a report from a national hospital watchdog group.

The Leapfrog Group gave Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander and Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff “D” grades in a report this month.  The hospitals were among just four in Wisconsin with “D” grades.

Leapfrog Director of Operations Erica Mobley said the ratings are based on preventable deaths in hospitals.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Despite ongoing concerns about city drinking water, Rhinelander’s Common Council adopted a

  • A Rhinelander alderwoman avoids a censure vote
  • A Wausau couple is charged with strangling a child
  • Lafayette County won’t vote on threatening journalists with prosecution
  • Gov. Evers refuses to release emails through an open records request
  • Brad Pfaff has a new job with state government after being fired as Agriculture Secretary

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