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.

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.

WXPR

Projects like an expansion of the Indian Bowl and creation of an assisted living facility keep planners in Lac du Flambeau busy.  But they want to hear even more ideas from the community.

On Wednesday, they’ll host an input session for feedback on their current projects and pick up thoughts for even more.

WPVGA

The Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) calls last year one of the worst years in the state potato industry’s history.

Thousands of acres of potatoes had to be left in the ground after an early deep frost stopped the harvest.

Tamas Houlihan calls this week a “big week” for Wisconsin potato farmers hoping to recover from last year.

Houlihan is the Executive Director of the Antigo-based WPVGA.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

In the next year, Aspirus will pour $14 million into a major expansion of its Rhinelander clinic.

The healthcare provider broke ground on the project on Friday morning.

“We’re out of space,” Aspirus Regional Clinic Director Robb Fabich said of the current facility.

But by next October, the clinic will be ready to open an additional 21,000 square feet of space.

Planning for the expansion has been in the works for months, according to Fabich.

Forward Elk Lake Park Splash Pad

  People in Phillips have a special reason to hope our September weather stays warmer than average.

After years of planning and $200,000 of fundraising, volunteers finally opened an outdoor splash pad late last month.

It started as the dream of Kristen Harper, a young mother in Phillips, who thought of the splash pad as a way to play with her kids in warm weather.

Harper helped make the splash pad at Elk Lake Park happen.  It has no standing water, but has fixtures that squirt and spray like at a waterpark.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Ron Wiedeman’s ancestors came here around 1900, as best as he can tell.

It’s a swath of land along the Wisconsin River in the Town of Crescent, just southwest of Rhinelander.

“I’ve lived in this area my whole life,” said Wiedeman, sitting at his kitchen table.

When he was a kid, the spring now known as Crescent Spring was on his family’s property.

“Just clean, fresh water, always clean, and good tasting water,” Wiedeman said.  “I’ve [drunken] out of there since I was probably eight years old.”

Tomahawk Fall Ride

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office expects calls, crashes, and incidents over Fall Ride weekend, which ended Sunday.

Tens of thousands of Harley riders come to Tomahawk for the event.  Last year, one person died as part of 14 people involved in crashes.

But this year, police got a pleasant surprise, responding to no crashes or incidents.

Congressman Sean Duffy’s sudden resignation announcement last month surprised many people in northern Wisconsin.

But not long after we learned the news, potential candidates started thinking about running to replace him.

State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) became the first candidate to jump into the congressional race last Tuesday, but he may well face a test in his own party.

Speaking by phone from his mother’s 91st birthday party in Miami, Wausau heart surgeon and Cuban refugee Dr. Fritz Riveron said he’s gotten encouragement to run for the seat as a Republican.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Pete McGeshick III sometimes has a hard time explaining what being on a wild rice bed feels like for him.

As he used a 16-foot pole to push a canoe across Rice Lake on the Sokaogon Chippewa reservation in Forest County, he said he feels the spirit of wild rice while on the water.

“It talks to me.  It’s something you feel in your heart.  You can’t describe it,” McGeshick said.  “All you can do is feel it.”

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Fifteen years ago, Tom Tiffany ran to represent northern Wisconsin in the state legislature for the first time.

He lost twice before finally winning an Assembly seat in 2010.

After two years, the Minocqua Republican moved up to the state Senate, and now wants to take another step.

On Tuesday morning, standing before a crowd wearing white shirts and waving blue signs with his name, Tiffany announced he’s running for an open seat in Congress.  He’s the first declared candidate.

A local couple plans to renovate Crandon’s shuttered nursing home after buying it last week.

Peg and Jim Houle bought the former AGI Healthcare in Crandon, which announced its closing last April.

Thirty-seven residents needed to find new homes, and 60 workers needed new jobs after the closure.

Forest County Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Mark Ferris helped coordinate the sale: “We have the demographics that  certainly require that type of facility in assisted living-slash-independent living facility.  There’s no question.”

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