Let's Minocqua Increasing Grants from Room Tax
Published on 01/15/2021 under News Amid the pandemic, the Minocqua area saw a boost in room tax revenue, resulting in additional grants being made available this year. The Let's Minocqua Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce announced that $20,000 is being made available to community groups and organizations for tourism development and promotion in the Minocqua area. That's an increase from previous cycles. Chamber Executive Director Krystal Westfahl says, "We have been heavily marketing the communities of Minocqua, Arbor Vitae, and Woodruff as year-round outdoor recreation areas for the past five years. We saw increased traffic to the area as people flocked to the Northwoods to social distance and get back to family and nature." A portion of the room tax generated in Minocqua, Arbor Vitae and Woodruff is reinvested through the room tax grant program for groups focused on bringing people to the area or those offering events and activities that will encourage people to stay longer. Board president, Jim Hartwig, "We are very pleased to have the opportunity to support tourism in diverse ways and we look forward to assisting our nonprofits from across the area in this common goal." The application period runs through the end of the month.
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Snowmobile Racers Return to Eagle River for Derby World Championships
Published on 01/15/2021 under News Some of the fastest snowmobiles in the world are converging in the Northwoods this weekend for the World Championship Snowmobile Derby. This is the 58th year for the event held each January in Eagle River. In a typical year, tens of thousands of sledheads travel to the Northwoods bringing a much needed boost to the local economy and plenty of speed on the ice oval. With the pandemic still affecting events across the country, organizers have taken some additional precautions to protect fans and racers alike. They got a trial run last weekend with the vintage derby. Opening ceremonies are set to begin this evening with weekend racing leading up to Sunday's World Championship race. Blaine Stephenson will seek to win his third consecutive title in the 25 lap shootout. Many local fans will have to find a new racer to pull for, as Tomahawk-native and two-time world champion Nick Van Strydonk retired following last season. The World Championship will be followed by the inaugural 100 lap enduro race.
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DNR Offers Free Fishing Weekend
Published on 01/15/2021 under News Whether tip-ups, jigging, or casting a line; Wisconsin anglers can hit the ice for some fishing this weekend without a license. The DNR has brought back their winter free fishing weekend. These free activity weekends are a way to introduce new participants to Wisconsin's many outdoor sports, while also providing former participants to renew their interest. It's part of the DNR R3 program which stands for recruitment, retention and reactivation. In a typical year, the DNR would offer organized events such as clinics or equipment loans. With Covid-19 still spreading, they are calling it "a do-it-yourself adventure." R3 Coordinator Theresa Stabo says, "Although this is not a time to share your shanty with people from outside your household, you and a family member or roommate can still venture out for a brisk walk and drop a line (this) weekend." While you don't need a license, anglers must still follow all other fishing regulations including size and bag limits. As always when venturing onto the ice, consider its safety and remember that no ice is 100% safe. Mild temperatures throughout the winter have led to variable ice conditions across much of the state.
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City of Merrill Extends Limited Access to City Facilities
Published on 01/15/2021 under News The City of Merrill will extend the limited access to city buildings through the end of the month. The temporary restrictions were put in place due the increase in Covid-19 cases in Lincoln County over the past two months. The biggest effect on the public is at City Hall where they are encouraging business via phone or email. They are also available by appointment. The temporary closure was initially set to expire this weekend. In announcing the extension, Mayor Derek Woellner cited Lincoln County's current Covid activity level in the "Very High" category along, with the "no significant change" in the trajectory based on state statistics. The new declaration has been extended to February 1.
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Oneida County Correction's Officer Resigns Amid Charges
Published on 01/15/2021 under News An Oneida County corrections officer charged with solicitation of prostitution and misconduct in public office is no longer with the agency. According to the Oneida County Sheriff's Office, Jacob Petitt submitted his resignation on Wednesday. The 26 year old was arrested earlier this week. Investigators says he used his position to exchange sexual favors with female inmates for information on drug investigations. He was formally charged with two felonies on Wednesday. The investigation is ongoing. Another court appearance has been scheduled for January 20.
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Torch Run Kicks off Badger State Games/Snowmobile Derby
Published on 01/14/2021 under News Two iconic Northern Wisconsin sporting events, the Badger State Games and the World Snowmobile Derby Championships will join forces over the next two days. On Thursday morning, the teams of snowmobile enthusiasts left from the Wausau area on their"ride" throughout Northern Wisconsin with the Badger State Games torch. Unfortunately, with a relative lack of snow, the sleds are being trailered north behind trucks. After being re-established last year, the Torch run will feature 15 local snowmobile clubs across 4 counties. They've arranged for 10 stops along the 150+ mile tour. That includes a stop this afternoon at the Tomahawk Sports Center for a meet and greet and luncheon. Each stop features special guests, and State Senator Mary Felzkowski, Mayor Steve Taskay, and Chamber Director Jesica Witte are on the guest list. After stopping in the Lakeland area this evening, the ride will hit Sayner, St. Germain and Three Lakes Friday, before working back to Eagle River. The goal is to arrive at the derby grounds in time for tomorrow's opening ceremonies. Eagle River is playing host to some of the fastest snowmobiles in the world this weekend. Meanwhile, the Wausau-based Badger State Winter games are ongoing through the month of January.
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Covid Vaccine Roll-Out Continues in Lincoln County
Published on 01/14/2021 under News It's been a month since the first Northwoods healthcare workers began receiving covid vaccinations. Here in Lincoln County, health officials say that roll-out has gone smoothly. Yesterday we spoke with Lincoln County Health Director Shelley Hersil about the vaccination progress. She says, "We're getting darn close to having everyone vaccinated in1a." That references those frontline healthcare workers in Wisconsin's tiered roll-out system. Hersil says the next groups to get vaccinated will be those in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and emergency responders such as police and fire. For the general public, Hersil urged patience. She says, "Everyone wants the vaccine right away but there has to be some coordination and that's why we have our phases and tiers to reach priority areas first." While the vaccines aren't yet available to the general populations, the health department is continuing to work with partners on distribution plans. Hersil noted it will be a team effort involving pharmacies, healthcare providers, and public health agencies. She also anticipated community vaccination events similar to the community covid testing we've already seen during the pandemic. Hersil says it's important to pay attention to locations during the roll-out announcements as each state is creating their own models and may differ. You can hear that entire conversation with Shelley in the WJJQ audio center. Northwoods Covid Update Northwoods Health Departments confirmed four additional deaths in their Wednesday Covid update. Two of those deaths were in Oneida County. These are the 48th and 49th covid-related deaths in Oneida County since the pandemic began. Vilas County also reported two deaths in connection the coronavirus bringing the county total to 32. As for testing, Lincoln County added 6 new cases (2,664 overall), reporting 105 active cases. Oneida County reported 17 positives (2,910 overall) and 189 active cases. Vilas County added 27 cases dating back to Monday (1,842 overall). They report 151 active cases.
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Rep. Callahan Calls on Immediate Re-establishment of Wolf Season
Published on 01/14/2021 under News A Northwoods legislator is calling on the DNR to immediately establish a wolf harvest season. Newly elected assemblyman Calvin Callahan made those statements after participating in yesterday's joint informational hearing on the process of reinstating the wolf season. In November, it was announced that the gray wolf would be removed from the federal endangered species list turning management over to the states. That change took effect on January 4. The de-listing happened in the middle of the dates established for the annual wolf season leading to disagreements over whether to establish the season immediately or at the start of the subsequent season in November. Callahan in his statement yesterday said, "The department has had plenty of time to develop harvest quotas, provide and process public applications for hunting licenses, and, furthermore, address concerns about the sustainability of the wolf population in Wisconsin." The DNR has previously announced intentions to establish a wolf management committee and resume the season in November. The state previously held wolf harvests between 2012 and 2014.
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Rhinelander PIE Launches “Golden Apple Awards”
Published on 01/14/2021 under News The Rhinelander Partners in Education have launched a new program to recognize teachers in their community. The organization, also known as Rhinelander PIE, announced plans for its first ever Golden Apple Awards. The group is comprised of area business, education and community leaders. PIE board member Ryan Zietlow says, "The work our educators do in our community is critically important. Seeing our teachers work, especially during these times, in providing the best possible opportunity for all our children, does not go unnoticed." He says that hard work, dedication and innovation needs to be recognized, which led to the formation of the Golden Apple Awards. They'll rely on community nominations with the nomination period already live on the Rhinelander Pie website. The inaugural Golden Apple recipients will be recognized at an appreciation even in May.
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Oneida County Corrections Officer Appears in Court
Published on 01/14/2021 under News An Oneida County corrections officer accused of solicitation of female inmates made his initial appearance in court Wednesday. Jacob Petitt appeared at that hearing via video conference. The 26 year old is formally charged with felonies for solicitation of prostitution and misconduct in public office. Petitt was arrested earlier this week. Investigators say Petitt used his position to provide information on drug enforcement officers to female inmates in exchange for sexual favors. At yesterday's hearing, the judge set bond at $1,000 with a condition that Petitt not leave Oneida County. In addition to the charges, Petitt has been placed on administrative leave.
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Northern Wisconsin Hospitals Changing Hands: Aspirus Acquiring Ascension Facilities
Published on 01/13/2021 under News The ever-changing Northwoods healthcare landscape will see Aspirus Health acquiring Ascension sites in north-central Wisconsin. The two area providers announced that tentative transfer agreement via news release yesterday. Aspirus would take over seven hospitals, 21 physician clinics, and the Spirit air and ground medical transport services. The Wausau-based provider already operates 10 hospitals and 50 other clinics, home health, and pharmacy locations in Wisconsin and Michigan's U.P. Among the hospitals involved in the transaction: Eagle River Hospital in Eagle River; Good Samaritan Hospital in Merrill; Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff; Sacred Heart Hospital in Tomahawk; and St. Mary's Hospital in Rhinelander. Matthew Heywood, President and CEO of Aspirus Health. "We are looking forward to welcoming these new team members into the Aspirus family and to expanding access to local primary care and specialty services to create a more seamless health care experience for thousands of rural Wisconsin residents." The deal will be finalized in the coming months pending regulatory approval. Last year, Ascension transferred their Wausau diagnostics and Park Falls Hospital to Marshfield Clinic. The latest deal largely leaves Aspirus and Marshfield Clinic as the two major providers in the area.
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Tomahawk School Board Approves April Referendum Question at Lower Cost
Published on 01/13/2021 under News The Tomahawk School District is sending another referendum to voters at a slightly lower amount. At last night's meeting, the board unanimously approved a pair of corresponding resolutions that place the spending request on the April ballot. The district's current operational referendum is set to expire at the end of the year. In November, the district asked voters to approve a $3.5 million, four year operational referendum. With more than 6,000 ballots cast, the request was defeated by fewer than 60 votes. This time around, the board followed the recommendation of administrator Terry Reynolds by lowering the request by a million dollars over the course of the four years or $3.25 million annually. The Tomahawk School District isn't he only jurisdiction asking for funds this spring. The Lincoln County Board has already placed a request to exceed levy limits on the spring ballot, a point not lost on Reynolds who referenced the likelihood of voters approving two separate increases. With a failed referendum already on the books, the district will increase their efforts to communicate with the public ahead of the April election. Reynolds says they'll be working with CESA on promoting the district needs via mailers and the district is also working on a video. This is in addition to their traditional media outreach and social media._____ Other than the referendum conversations, it was a relatively uneventful board meeting... In his high school report, principal Ryan Huseby highlighted the freshman class which recently coordinated a drive for the food pantry. In the end they collected nearly $200 and 264 food items to be donated to those in need. The district was also on the receiving end of community generosity. Middle School Principal Wendell Quesinberry thanked Bob Zietlow at Wholesale Carpets who coordinates the local Toys for Tots. He says they were able to acquire some age appropriate gifts for some middle school students.He also offered appreciation to those employees at Harley-Davidson for their winter jacket donations, which has become an annual gift. Administrator Terry Reynolds noted that the district has reached out to the Lincoln County Health Department to assist in vaccine distribution when it comes available to the public. Lastly the board briefly went over the board candidates for the spring election recognizing Cathy Schmit who chose not to seek re-election and will end her term in April. No one filed papers for that seat which will likely fall to a write-in candidate.
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Covid Quarantines Pushes Tomahawk Elementary Online for Two Weeks
Published on 01/13/2021 under News Covid has forced Tomahawk elementary school to temporarily switch to remote learning over the next two weeks. The district announced last night that in-person instruction will be suspended effective today through January 22. This is due to quarantine issues among staff limiting the ability to host in-person classes. The announcement will not impact the middle and high school students who will continue with their hybrid model which alternates in-person and remote learning. The goal is for in-person instruction to resume at the elementary school on Monday January 25.
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Marshfield Clinic Taking Appoints for Unaffiliated Community Health Care Workers
Published on 01/13/2021 under News Marshfield Clinic is now scheduling covid vaccine appointments for community health care workers and emergency responders in North Central Wisconsin. These are for workers who may not be affiliated with a healthcare provider offering vaccines. Examples include: behavior health providers, chiropractors, dental services, emergency medical responders, police, firefighters, hospice workers, pharmacists, and social workers. Tammy Simon, Vice President at Marshfield Clinic Health System's Institute for Quality Innovation and Patient Safety. "We are working tirelessly to use the vaccinations we receive from the State and get them into frontline health care providers, and now our community health care workers, as soon as we can." Those workers who qualify can schedule an appointment by visiting the dedicated Marshfield Clinic Vaccine appointment website. As for the general public, Simon says they are expecting further guidance from the state on the roll-out in the coming weeks. She says their teams are working on a distribution plan to ensure Marshfield Clinic is ready when the state is ready.
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Rep. Tiffany Opposes "Partisan" Impeachment; Acknowledges Biden Victory
Published on 01/13/2021 under News Northwoods US Representative Tom Tiffany (R) says he opposes efforts to impeach the outgoing president and urged politicians to "move on with the business of the American people."  Via news release, Rep. Tiffany touched on impeachment, the presidential certification and the current political climate. He called the decision to impeach a partisan effort that is unnecessary with a just days remaining in President Trump's term. Regarding the election results, Tiffany acknowledged the electoral count has been certified and Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States. He says, "The House heard, debated and rejected constitutionally authorized challenges to the electoral college last week – just as it did after the 2000, 2004 and 2016 elections when Democratic lawmakers lodged objections using the same framework in response to the concerns of their constituents. That is how our system of government works." He shared that he plans to attend the inauguration ceremony next week. As for the current political unrest Tiffany said, "It is now time for all of us – Democrats and Republicans alike – to turn down the temperature, condemn criminal violence and intimidation on all sides, stop the political score-settling, and move on with the business of the American people."
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