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Record-low jobless report tops '17 news
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For the second month in a row, Langlade County has posted its lowest jobless rate in decades, and that tops the list of local news stories for 2017.

A poll of the Antigo Daily Journal’s newsroom floated that good economic news to the top of the year’s list, but number two was a far more grim story focusing on the rise in drug use in the area and across the northwoods.

Rounding out the top three was the shift in the Antigo school district from attempts at constructing new facilities to working within the framework of existing structures, with a renewed focus on academics.

There were certainly other contenders, including the ascension of Mark Westen to sheriff, Langlade County’s purchase of the Robert S. Lyle Scout Reservation, and the continued expansion of CoVantage Credit Union, which will add a third story to its local headquarters in 2018.

JOBLESS DECLINES

According to Department of Workforce labor statistics, Langlade County in November had a total civilian workforce number of 9,731 and the number of people currently employed is 9,418, leaving 313 unemployed. That translates to a 3.2 percent unemployment rate for the second month in a row.

The steady drop in the unemployment rate here from a high of 13.5 percent in February, 2010—the height of the Great Recession—to the just-reported figure is excellent news for those seeking a new, or better, job but presents a mixed message for businesses seeking to find workers.

I am very happy to see these numbers, however, our employers are still struggling to fill jobs., Angie Close, executive director of the Langlade County Economic Development Corporation, said. With many factors in place, including low population, we need to continue to work on retention and attraction strategies to keep our businesses that we have here healthy and to attract new.  This takes a great deal of collaboration on both private and public entities to seek out ways to think outside of the box and find new ways to continue to move Antigo and Langlade County forward.

The region mirrors the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.2 percent. The national rate was 4.1 percent for November.

Wisconsin is working, Gov. Scott Walker said. More men and women went to work so far in 2017 than ever before in our history and unemployment claims are at their lowest levels in 30 years. With unemployment near historic lows and businesses hiring across our state, we will continue to focus on worker training initiatives as we move into 2018.

DRUG DANGERS

The increasing use of illegal drugs—or prescribed drugs for illicit purposes—across the region is number two on the list.

Drug usage, and the crime it spawns, was a constant in the Antigo Daily Journal news columns over the course of the year, whether it be in court reports, stories on criminal activities or in articles on the attempts of organizations such as Action Alliance to combat the problem through education.

Users are getting high on everything from marijuana and prescription painkillers to heroin and methamphetamines, an area of particular concern since it can be cooked up in meth labs using easily obtainable household items in dangerous and potentially deadly combinations.

It’s highly additive, District Attorney Elizabeth Gebert, who has given public presentations on the topic, said. The impact it has on your brain instantaneously is significantly higher than cocaine, heroin and other substances.

In fact, Gebert said, people in court being sentences have said the very first time they used it, they began experiencing withdrawal symptoms as soon as their high ended.

Keys to combating the problem, the experts said, are more treatment options locally, continued emphasis on policing and educating all segments of the population.

This requires a community-wide response, Gerbert said. This substance also affects the children and their families, the community as a whole..

SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION

It is rare that the Antigo Daily Journal’s year-end roundup doesn’t include some sort of school district news, but this year there is a twist.

While the construction crews are going full-bore on an $18 million addition to the Elcho school, officials in Antigo have shifted focus from facilities to consolidation.

The move actually came in March, on the heels of an unsuccessful elementary referendum, when the board advanced an expansive elementary consolidation and grade reconfiguration plan that essentially ends rural education, with a two-year phase-in beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

The plan will move eighth grade students currently housed at the Middle School to the high school, making that a 8-12 facility. Fourth and fifth graders will be moved from the elementary schools to Middle School, making that a fourth-seventh grade configuration.

All four-year-old kindergarten through grade three students will be housed at East, West and North elementary schools, creating multi-section 4K-third grade schools. Spring Valley, Crestwood and Pleasant View elementary schools will be closed.

At the same time it was beginning consolidation planning, the district was embroiled in a legal dispute with residents of the Mattoon area, who sought to carve their own tiny school district out of Antigo, using their shuttered elementary school as the hub.

That effort moved through the Department of Public Instruction process, eventually failing in May.

The year also saw a change in district leadership, with Dr. Colleen Timm replacing Brian Misfeldt, who had resigned, as of July 1.

Timm quickly moved the district off its facilities discussion toward a renewed focus on academics, an area were the DPI annual report card indicated deficiencies.

We’re on a trajectory to improve the scores, Timm said. We have good people. We’ll get there.

LOOKING AHEAD

Newspapers are in the reporting, not predicting business, but events of the year past point to activities in the year to come.

Leading that list is CoVantage Credit Union, which announced early this year that it will build a third story on its downtown Antigo headquarters, cementing the always-growing financial institution’s presence and important role across community boundaries.

The year ahead will also bring construction of a new apartment complex on Antigo’s northwest side, the conclusion of the Elcho school project, and the beginning phases of the Antigo district’s consolidation efforts.

There will certainly be unforeseen challenges as well. Stay tuned.
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JOBLESS DROP—This illustration, originally published on Nov. 24, shows the steep drop in the jobless rate in Langlade County, a trend that continues as the year nears its close. The graph was prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and details Langlade County’s declining rate, which at 3.2 percent now mirrors the state average, tied for the lowest in the 27-year history of the chart. At top, workers at Sartori, one of Antigo’s major industries, are shown in a file photo.

Record-low jobless report tops '17 news
space
For the second month in a row, Langlade County has posted its lowest jobless rate in decades, and that tops the list of local news stories for 2017.

A poll of the Antigo Daily Journal’s newsroom floated that good economic news to the top of the year’s list, but number two was a far more grim story focusing on the rise in drug use in the area and across the northwoods.

Rounding out the top three was the shift in the Antigo school district from attempts at constructing new facilities to working within the framework of existing structures, with a renewed focus on academics.

There were certainly other contenders, including the ascension of Mark Westen to sheriff, Langlade County’s purchase of the Robert S. Lyle Scout Reservation, and the continued expansion of CoVantage Credit Union, which will add a third story to its local headquarters in 2018.

JOBLESS DECLINES

According to Department of Workforce labor statistics, Langlade County in November had a total civilian workforce number of 9,731 and the number of people currently employed is 9,418, leaving 313 unemployed. That translates to a 3.2 percent unemployment rate for the second month in a row.

The steady drop in the unemployment rate here from a high of 13.5 percent in February, 2010—the height of the Great Recession—to the just-reported figure is excellent news for those seeking a new, or better, job but presents a mixed message for businesses seeking to find workers.

I am very happy to see these numbers, however, our employers are still struggling to fill jobs., Angie Close, executive director of the Langlade County Economic Development Corporation, said. With many factors in place, including low population, we need to continue to work on retention and attraction strategies to keep our businesses that we have here healthy and to attract new.  This takes a great deal of collaboration on both private and public entities to seek out ways to think outside of the box and find new ways to continue to move Antigo and Langlade County forward.

The region mirrors the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.2 percent. The national rate was 4.1 percent for November.

Wisconsin is working, Gov. Scott Walker said. More men and women went to work so far in 2017 than ever before in our history and unemployment claims are at their lowest levels in 30 years. With unemployment near historic lows and businesses hiring across our state, we will continue to focus on worker training initiatives as we move into 2018.

DRUG DANGERS

The increasing use of illegal drugs—or prescribed drugs for illicit purposes—across the region is number two on the list.

Drug usage, and the crime it spawns, was a constant in the Antigo Daily Journal news columns over the course of the year, whether it be in court reports, stories on criminal activities or in articles on the attempts of organizations such as Action Alliance to combat the problem through education.

Users are getting high on everything from marijuana and prescription painkillers to heroin and methamphetamines, an area of particular concern since it can be cooked up in meth labs using easily obtainable household items in dangerous and potentially deadly combinations.

It’s highly additive, District Attorney Elizabeth Gebert, who has given public presentations on the topic, said. The impact it has on your brain instantaneously is significantly higher than cocaine, heroin and other substances.

In fact, Gebert said, people in court being sentences have said the very first time they used it, they began experiencing withdrawal symptoms as soon as their high ended.

Keys to combating the problem, the experts said, are more treatment options locally, continued emphasis on policing and educating all segments of the population.

This requires a community-wide response, Gerbert said. This substance also affects the children and their families, the community as a whole..

SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION

It is rare that the Antigo Daily Journal’s year-end roundup doesn’t include some sort of school district news, but this year there is a twist.

While the construction crews are going full-bore on an $18 million addition to the Elcho school, officials in Antigo have shifted focus from facilities to consolidation.

The move actually came in March, on the heels of an unsuccessful elementary referendum, when the board advanced an expansive elementary consolidation and grade reconfiguration plan that essentially ends rural education, with a two-year phase-in beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

The plan will move eighth grade students currently housed at the Middle School to the high school, making that a 8-12 facility. Fourth and fifth graders will be moved from the elementary schools to Middle School, making that a fourth-seventh grade configuration.

All four-year-old kindergarten through grade three students will be housed at East, West and North elementary schools, creating multi-section 4K-third grade schools. Spring Valley, Crestwood and Pleasant View elementary schools will be closed.

At the same time it was beginning consolidation planning, the district was embroiled in a legal dispute with residents of the Mattoon area, who sought to carve their own tiny school district out of Antigo, using their shuttered elementary school as the hub.

That effort moved through the Department of Public Instruction process, eventually failing in May.

The year also saw a change in district leadership, with Dr. Colleen Timm replacing Brian Misfeldt, who had resigned, as of July 1.

Timm quickly moved the district off its facilities discussion toward a renewed focus on academics, an area were the DPI annual report card indicated deficiencies.

We’re on a trajectory to improve the scores, Timm said. We have good people. We’ll get there.

LOOKING AHEAD

Newspapers are in the reporting, not predicting business, but events of the year past point to activities in the year to come.

Leading that list is CoVantage Credit Union, which announced early this year that it will build a third story on its downtown Antigo headquarters, cementing the always-growing financial institution’s presence and important role across community boundaries.

The year ahead will also bring construction of a new apartment complex on Antigo’s northwest side, the conclusion of the Elcho school project, and the beginning phases of the Antigo district’s consolidation efforts.

There will certainly be unforeseen challenges as well. Stay tuned.
space

JOBLESS DROP—This illustration, originally published on Nov. 24, shows the steep drop in the jobless rate in Langlade County, a trend that continues as the year nears its close. The graph was prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and details Langlade County’s declining rate, which at 3.2 percent now mirrors the state average, tied for the lowest in the 27-year history of the chart. At top, workers at Sartori, one of Antigo’s major industries, are shown in a file photo.
2018
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Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
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