New Highway 64 Bridge Open to Traffic
Published on 10/29/2020 under News Construction has progressed to the point where a new bridge near Merrill is officially open to traffic. Throughout the summer, construction crews have been working on installing a new Highway 64 bridge over the Pine River. Late yesterday afternoon, the Dept of Transportation gave the green light for cars to travel on the new structure. During the summer-long project, vehicles had been shifted over to a temporary river crossing which allowed crews to replace the bridge while the Highway remained open to traffic. In announcing yesterday's opening, the DoT also put out a reminder that the segment remains an active work zone. Crews will be around until mid-November removing the temporary bridge, the barriers and other finishing work. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation: As of Wednesday afternoon, the Highway 64 bridge over the Pine River is now open to traffic.)
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Local Unemployment Estimates Improve in September
Published on 10/29/2020 under News Local unemployment estimates are returning to near pre-pandemic levels. The Department of Workforce Development recently released the September unemployment figures which saw statewide improvements. In fact, inall 72 counties the September rates were lower than those in August. Here in Lincoln County's September estimate was 3.8%, down from 5.4% in August. In September 2019, the rate was 2.8%. Elsewhere in the Northwoods, Oneida County's rate was 4.8% in September compared to 6.5% in August. Vilas County's rate was 4.7% compared to 6% in August. All three counties were in the double digits in May and June, shortly after the pandemic arrived. Both Oneida and Vilas Counties surpassed the 20% mark at their peak.
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Lincoln County Social Service Child Support Unit Receives Recognition
Published on 10/29/2020 under News The Lincoln County Department of Social Services and their Child Support Unit recently received a recognition of excellence. Renee Krueger, the county director of social services briefly discussed the honor at last week's Lincoln County Board meeting. The award is bestowed upon those who meet federal benchmarks in a number of performance metrics. Krueger told the board the recognition is rare to receive and called it "pretty prestigious." In fact just 17 counties in the state received the recognition for the 2019 fiscal year. The Board of Supervisors approved a resolution unanimously recognizing the Lincoln County program for their dedication and service to the community.
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Harley-Davidson Announces Electric Bicycle
Published on 10/29/2020 under News The rumble of a Harley-Davidson is almost as iconic as the motorcycle itself. Their new bike will be significantly quieter. Harley is expanding their lineup to include an electric bicycle. The Wisconsin-based company has unveiled a new brand known as Serial 1 Cycle Co. According to a news release, the name is a reference to the nickname of Harley-Davidson's first motorcycle. Serial 1 brand director Aaron Frank says the e-bicycle market is going gangbusters right now, largely due to COVID-19. The decision was made to structure the eBicycle business into a new entity that could focus exclusively on delivering an optimal eBicycle product and experience. Harley-Davidson has several Wisconsin factories including two here in Tomahawk.
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WPS Provides Tips to Avoid "Scary Bill"
Published on 10/29/2020 under News With Halloween this weekend, Wisconsin Public Service offered a few tips to avoid a scary bill this winter.  The utility provided a number of simple steps can keep energy costs down during the heating season. Be mindful of energy vampires. Plugged in electronics like cellphone chargers consumer power even when not in use. Disconnecting them save more than $100 a year. They recommend lowering your thermostat a few degrees when out of the home and overnight. If resources allow, a smart thermostat can take care of that for you. Clear off cobwebs by changing furnace filters. Scheduling a furnace tune-up ensures the unit is not only safe, but also running efficiently. And those goosebumps may be a sign of a drafty window. Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal any gaps or cracks around your home to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Wisconsin Public Service offers a number of easy to follow energy saving tips via their website.
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WisDoT Long-range Transporation Survey Ending this Weekend
Published on 10/29/2020 under News Wisconsin residents have a few more days to participate in the state's long-range transportation plan survey. Known as Connect 2050, the Department of Transportation is seeking public in put on all things transportation including roads, ports, rails, airports, sidewalks, and public transportation. DoT Secretary designee Craig Thompson notes the key to a transportation system is planning. He says, "We have to look decades down the road, to ensure that the projects we plan today will meet the state's needs tomorrow." The survey is available at until October 31, 2020.
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Officials Encourage Absentee Voters Return Ballots Promptly
Published on 10/28/2020 under News Ahead of next week's election, more than 5,000 Lincoln County residents have already cast a ballot and officials are encouraging those with outstanding ballots to get them in as soon as possible. While Thursday is the legal deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail, that may not provide enough turn around to meet the deadline. Meagan Wolfe, administrator for the Wisconsin Elections Commission said, "Your ballot must arrive by Election Day to be counted and the US Postal Service says it can take up to seven days for a letter to arrive, so if you're planning to mail your ballot back, you should mail it back as soon as possible." Mail is not the only option, many Northwoods municipalities do have ballot drop boxes, ballots can be brought to your clerk's office, or a completed absentee ballot can actually be returned to your polling location on election day. Voters can also cast an in-person early vote through the end of the week. As expected, voting numbers are setting records. According to Tuesday data from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, more than 5,000 absentee ballots have been returned in Lincoln County. The data also shows there are still around 1,300 outstanding. Here in the City of Tomahawk, 729 people have returned absentee ballots while 97 people have taken advantage of early in-person voting.
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BBB:Online Purchase Scams on the Rise
Published on 10/28/2020 under News Earlier this week, we reported that a Lincoln County man lost $1,700 via an online scam on Ebay, unfortunately he is not alone. Research shows that scams related to online purchases have spiked amid the Coronavirus pandemic. That's according to a new report issued by the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin. It's no surprise that more people are shopping online due to the pandemic. The surveys reported victims were directed to the scams a number of ways including: Facebook, Google, Instagram and pop-up ads. The study showed individuals in the 35-44 age bracket are most likely to be victimized by online scams. However, older adults tend to lose more money. More than 80 percent of consumers reporting online scams lost money. Online shoppers can protect themselves by thoroughly researching, avoiding "too good to be true" offers and those the require some form of gift card or pre-paid card as payment.
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Fall Leaves Can Be Useful Around Home
Published on 10/28/2020 under News With a sign of some improved weather this weekend, homeowners may get a few days to take care of some yard work. Rather than burning or discarding leaves, people should consider ways to use lawn waste around the home. Leaves are packed with minerals and carbon that can benefit your plants next year when turned into mulch. If you can begin to break down the leaves with a shredder or lawn mower, it can speed up the process. Dried leaves can serve as a component of your compost pile, which should be a 2:1 mix of brown and green waste. For those who store vegetables in their basement or cellar, a bed of leaves can take the place of sawdust or newspapers in layering vegetables. And people with an artistic side or some youngsters can turn the leaves into an art project. Many municipalities here in the Northwoods do have yard waste collection either pick up or collection.
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Tomahawk School Board Approves 20-21 Budget
Published on 10/28/2020 under News The Tomahawk School District has finalized their 2020-21 budget. At their report-filled meeting last night, the Tomahawk School Board also approved a pair of corresponding motions for the district budget and the tax levy necessary to support it. The preliminary budget was approved by the board last month and the board spent little time discussing it further last night. Before the vote, Administrator Terry Reynolds noted that the district did receive a few dollars more than anticipated from the state. Coupled with an increase in property value, the mil rate came in at $9 even rather than $9.24 as originally projected. As for the budget levy, that was just over $14.3 million. The Board approved both measures unanimously. _____ There were just two additional action items at last night's meeting. The Board approved a resolution to begin the process of designating the wooded area adjacent to the school as a School Forest. The program and application goes through the DNR. The board also continued their ongoing, years' long process of updating district policies with another reading. No discussion was held ahead of the vote.
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Northwoods Covid-19 Update
Published on 10/28/2020 under News While there were no covid-related deaths reported in the Northwoods Tuesday, the number of new positive tests remains high. Here in Lincoln County, the health department reports 27 new cases bringing the overall total to 783 and 114 active cases. Oneida County announced 16 new positives, 1,218 overall and 369 active cases. The number of hospitalizations is back up to 13. Langlade County reports 32 new cases, 953 overall cases, 236 active cases and 11 hospitalizations. Price County reports 11 new cases bringing the county total 369 overall including 55 active. _____ A reminder for those looking to utilize the new weekly Covid testing site in Lincoln County, the location has changed starting this week. Starting today and each Wednesday through early December, the testing will take place at the Merrill Festival Grounds going forward. The testing is a partnership between the Wisconsin National Guard and the Lincoln County Health Department for those who have exhibited symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. A number of other area counties are providing these recurring Covid-19 testing.
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Local Groups Benefit from Packer Foundation Grants
Published on 10/27/2020 under News Each Sunday, the state of Wisconsin throws its support behind the Green Bay Packers, this month the team's Foundation returned the favor. Each year, the Green Bay Packer Foundation provides funding to hundreds of non-profit organizations around the state. This year, the $1million pool will be divided among 237 grounds including several here in the Northwoods. Each cycle, the grants fall into specific themes. This year focused on groups assisting the elderly, homelessness, human services, and hunger. Right here in Tomahawk, TRUTH, the organization that operates Our Sisters House was selected. Over in Rhinelander, a similar group, NATH, which operates Frederick Place was also selected. So too, was the Rhinelander Food Pantry. In a typical year, the recipients would gather at the Lambeau Atrium in December for a luncheon. With Covid, they decided to move up the award cycle to assist groups affected by the pandemic. In announcing the grants, Packer President/CEO Mark Murphy says, "So many people from the recipient organizations are on the front lines, and we are inspired by them and honored to help as they continue to serve those in need every day."
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Northwoods Covid-19 Update; Cases Climb, Six Additional Deaths
Published on 10/27/2020 under News As the number of Coronavirus cases continue to climb, so too, to do the number of Covid-related deaths. Local health departments reported several additional covid deaths over the weekend. Here in Lincoln County, the Health Department reported 4 additional deaths yesterday. No other information on the individuals was provided. This brings the overall total to 10 covid-related deaths since the pandemic began. Price County reported its second covid-related death, while Langlade County reported its 9th. Statewide, there have now been 1,788 covid-related deaths. _____ Checking in on the local testing numbers reported by Health Departments. As is typically the case, the Monday reporting does include some testing returned over the weekend. In Lincoln county, the Health Department reports 71 new cases bringing the county total to 756 since the pandemic began. They report 104 active cases. Oneida County reported 60 new cases. The County total is 1,202 including 367 active cases. They also report 11 current hospitalizations. Vilas County added 35 new cases leaving the county total at 563 including 179 active cases. Price County now has 358 cases after 19 additional positive tests. Langlade County reported 80 new cases; the county total 917 including 235 active cases, and 13 hospitalizations.
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Jefferson Elementary in Merrill Moving to Online Instruction
Published on 10/27/2020 under News Yesterday we reported that Jefferson Elementary in Merrill would be temporarily switching to remote learning. We've now heard from district administrator John Sample. He says, "It simply got to the point where providing supervision and quality instruction became problematic." He noted that the increased number of absences were related more to the number of people in quarantine due to close contact than those testing positive. The change will not affect other buildings within the district. Sample says that they will continue to monitor quarantine numbers daily with a goal of returning to in-person instruction on Monday November 9.
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YMCA of Northwoods Hosts 'Not So Scary Halloween' Drive-Thru
Published on 10/27/2020 under News Dozens of youngsters got an early start to Halloween in Rhinelander thanks to the YMCA of the Northwoods. While the Y had to cancel their traditional 'Not So Scary' Halloween trail, they got creative with a 'Not So Scary' Halloween Drive-Thru over the weekend instead. Around a dozen community businesses and organizations set up scenes around the YMCA parking lot. The scenes highlighted local businesses, high school clubs, and even the Oneida County Sheriff's Office. Themes including Alice in Wonderland, Nightmare Before Christmas, and of course, in Rhinelander, a number of hodags. The spooky scenery is served as a friendly competition with bragging rights attached. You can check out those displays and vote via their YMCA Facebook page. And it wouldn't be Halloween without treats, and all the youngsters were given a goody bag at the end of the parade.
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