State Parks and Trails Remain Open;Admission Fees Waived Published on 03/25/2020 under News Gov. Evers' Safer at Home order recognizes outdoor activity as essential. With that decision, the DNR announced that all state parks, trails, and forests will remain open.

They also announced that all fees for those locations will be waived at this time. That's a change from last week, when admission was on a voluntary basis.

In yesterday's update, the DNR continued to emphasize social distancing. They encouraged those going to park facilities not to congregate in parking areas, near kiosks or bathrooms.

Staff will continue to provide routine sweeps of state park system properties. Bathrooms will remain open, other non-essential buildings will be closed to the public.

All campsites are closed through April.

They also reminded anglers that fishing remains open, normal season regulations do still apply.

In Other News

Tomahawk School District Prepares for Upcoming Referendum; Schedules Public Info Meetings
Published on 09/23/2020 under News The Tomahawk School District is set to begin a public informational campaign to educate voters on an upcoming referendum. While there are a number of high profile races on this fall's ballot, voters in the Tomahawk area will also decide whether to continue with another operational referendum. As we've previously covered, the district is asking for $3.5 million each of the next four years. A similar referendum is set to expire at the end of the current school year. Last evening, Administrator Terry Reynolds walked the Tomahawk School Board through the outreach effort. He says they've scheduled two Public Informational meetings on October 6 and October 22. The meetings will be held in the school auditorium and broadcast online via Zoom. It's at these meetings the district will explain why the district asking voters for the referendum. This includes a nearly $2 million cut in general state aid over the past 10 years and rising costs. The district will pair the informational meetings with a media campaign. That outreach will include both traditional media, social media, and the district website. Based on estimates presented at their June meeting, the referendum would bump the mill rate up 17 cents for the first year, or approximately $17 for a $100,000 home. The amount would decrease each year with the last two years below the current rate. A number of Northwoods districts have run into similar funding problems and gone to operational referendums including Rhinelander, Merrill, and Northland Pines.
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Rhinelander Man Formally Charged with Child Trafficking
Published on 09/23/2020 under News A Rhinelander man charged with child trafficking made his initial appearance in court yesterday. Thirty four year old Paul Osterman was arrested Monday following a two year investigation. Law enforcement launched an investigation after receiving tips about an individual offering money to meet young girls. Investigators spent more than a year trying to identify where the messages were coming from as the individual used multiple internet connections around the Rhinelander area. Osterman owns an internet service provider. As investigators narrowed their search, they received a warrant to use GPS tracking on Osterman's car. The investigation also stretched to Tomahawk and Marathon County, where the charges have been filed. At yesterday's court appearance, bond was set at $50,000. He is not allowed to have contact with anyone under 18 and cant' use internet devices. He'll be back in court on September 30.
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Northwoods Covid-19 Tuesday Report
Published on 09/23/2020 under News Following a statewide trend, local Covid-19 rates in the Northwoods are climbing based on local Health Department reporting. Lincoln County announced 14 additional positive tests and now has 43 active cases. The County has seen 159 positive tests since the pandemic began, the total nearly doubling since September 1 when there were 82 cases. Oneida County announced 5 new cases Tuesday bringing the county total to 355. The County has 64 active cases and 5 people are currently hospitalized. The Vilas County Health Department did not provide a Tuesday update. After reporting 6 cases Monday, Price County reported 2 new cases Tuesday. Price County remains the lowest in the area with 55 cases overall. Langlade County announced 17 cases Monday and another 3 Tuesday. The County has 140 cases overall including 41 active cases. Forest County continues to be a hot spot with 26 cases already this week. Eight people are currently hospitalized. After starting the month with 81 cases, the county now reports 229 cases.
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DNR Offering Numerous Sampling Locations for Chronic Wasting Disease
Published on 09/23/2020 under News The Department of Natural Resources continues to expand their efforts to sample deer for chronic wasting disease or CWD. The deer hunting season got underway earlier this month with the opening of the archery season on September 12. The DNR says managing CWD begins with knowing where the disease exists on the landscape, and having this knowledge is only possible with a robust sample size, thanks to deer hunters around the state. The DNR has several cluster areas they are focusing on including eastern Lincoln and Oneida Counties, where several deer have tested positive for CWD in recent years. Amanda Kamps, DNR wildlife health conservation specialist says, "We offer a variety of ways for hunters to participate, letting them choose the route that's most convenient for them." The DNR is again providing an interactive map on their website that lists locations of self service kiosks. For example, in Lincoln County you'll find drop off locations at the DNR Lemay Forestry Center in Tomahawk and the Merrill DNR Ranger Station. A new digital option will allow hunters utilizing the sampling stations to complete their testing information online. When registering their deer, hunters should receive a unique link, which should also be available on their Go Wild Harvest history. The DNR also encourages hunters to dispose of deer carcass waste at a licensed landfill or designated dumpster. Those locations are also available on the DNR interactive map. (Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR: Hundreds of sampling locations are available for hunters at self-service kiosks around the state.)
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100+ Students Using Tomahawk Virtual Academy
Published on 09/23/2020 under News More than 100 students in Tomahawk have chosen to take their classes entirely online this semester. When returning this fall, the Tomahawk School District choose to bring elementary students back everyday, while middle and high school students are using a hybrid model that combines in-person and remote classes. A third option was to enroll, full time, in online learning known as Tomahawk Virtual Academy. At last night's meeting, Tomahawk Director of Curriculum Theresa Burzynski provided the school board an update on the virtual student enrollment numbers. She says they initially had more than 400 inquiries into the program in July and August. She told the board that 122 students were initially enrolled, and 102 students will go forward with the program this semester. The district is limiting the transition between traditional enrollment and TVA on a semester basis. She says the current 8 percent of district enrollment is on the lower range of average when compared to neighboring school districts.
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DoT Announces Hwy 45 Median Work in Eagle River
Published on 09/23/2020 under News The Department of Transportation announced that they'll be back in Eagle River in the latter part of this week to complete a 2019 resurfacing project on Highway 45. In order to minimize traffic impacts and coordinate contractor schedules, work will begin on the project today. Crews will be extending the concrete median on US 45 (Pine Street) between Main Street and Railroad Street. They'll begin pavement removal today and begin placing the concrete median later this week. They expect minimal traffic impacts. There may be some occasional flagging operations to move equipment and materials in the work zone. The one temporary closure, through the weekend, is the westbound left turn lane on Railroad Street.
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Hatchet Volleyball Team Loses to Northland Pines
Published on 09/23/2020 under Sports The Tomahawk Hatchet Volleyball Teams hosted the Northland Pines Eagles on Tuesday night in Great Northern Conference action at the Fieldhouse. In the Varsity contest, the Eagles defeated Tomahawk three games to one.  Game scores were:  26-28, 22-25, 25-23, 21-25. Katie Pierce had 10 kills and five blocks and Kallie Massa had 10 kills and four aces. The JV and JV2 teams swept Northland Pines. Tomahawk will travel to Antigo on Thursday night, with the JV and JV2 matches at 5:30 pm and the Varsity best of five starting at 7:00 pm.
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National Voter Registration Day
Published on 09/22/2020 under News Six weeks ahead of the election, voting groups around the country are reminded voters to check on their registration status. Today is National Voter Registration Day. Here in Wisconsin voters can simply visit to check their voter registration status and register or make changes if needed. This is the same website where voters can also request an absentee ballot if they so choose. In Wisconsin, the online voter registration period runs October 14, though you can still register in-person or at the polls. Election day is November 3. City of Tomahawk voters can contact City Hall (453-4040) for any registration questions. Those living outside of the city with questions can direct them to their clerk. Social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook along with search engines including Google are feature voter registration day prominently.
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Include Kids in Emergency Preparedness Planning
Published on 09/22/2020 under News September is National Preparedness month, and local emergency teams are reminding families to take the time to make sure kids know how to respond when the unexpected happens. This year's slogan is "Disasters don't wait. Make your plans today." Wisconsin Emergency Management says regardless of where they are spending their days, parents should talk to their children about what to do if there is an emergency at home, school, or daycare. They even offered a few topics to go over...Make sure children know who to contact in the case of an emergency and identify a safe meeting place in case your family gets separated. Include children when putting together an emergency supply kit and involve them in creating a family emergency plan. Wisconsin's Emergency Management Administrator Dr. Darrell Williams says, "Children may not fully understand what's going on during a disaster or what steps they should be taking to remain safe. During Preparedness Month, we encourage families to spend time going over emergency plans with kids and making sure they understand what to do." The agency also provides 4th and 5th graders with preparation curriculum known as STEP or Student Tools for Emergency Planning. Since it launched in 2011, STEP has helped more than 80,000 Wisconsin students.
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Rhinelander Man Arrested on Sex Trafficking Charge
Published on 09/22/2020 under News A Rhinelander man was arrested after investigators say he sought sexual contact with a child. According to the Oneida County Sheriff's Office, 34 year old Paul Osterman was taken into custody yesterday morning on a charge of sex trafficking of a child. The agency received cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding intercepted online messages from a person seeking sexual contact with a child. The Sheriff's Office says four search warrants were served yesterday as part of the investigation and additional charges may follow. Osterman is being held in the Marathon County Jail. He is scheduled to appear in court today. According to a news release, the arrest is the result of a two year investigation that also included the Tomahawk, Rhinelander and Wausau Police Departments and the Marathon County Sheriff's Office.
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