Big plans for Phelps revitalization include lodge, grocery store, hardware storeSubmitted: 04/01/2015

Play Video
PHELPS - Colin Snook looks across the street at what people in Phelps call "the big store."

"This store was awesome when I was a kid," Snook says. "You could buy anything from underwear to bullets."

Snook grew up in Phelps. He's now the Town Chairman. "The big store" hasn't been open for almost a decade.

It's just one of the things that have changed over the decades in Phelps. The only medical clinic only bank left Phelps within the last few years. A grocery store and hardware store have been absent even longer.

But Snook and economic developers have a plan for downtown.

"Where the building stands now," he says, looking at the rundown store, "would be what we refer to as the Lumberman's Lodge."

The Lumberman's Lodge would include a restaurant, tavern, lodging, and gift store.

"Across the street from that, we would have the hardware store and the grocery store," he says.

Those are two things Phelps sorely wants.

"(They're) something that we haven't had in Phelps in a long time," Snook says. "These are services that we really need."

The vision for Phelps might not be possible if not for the community's location. Its downtown is perched on the shore of North Twin Lake, an expansive, picturesque body of water.

"(It's) everything," Snook says of the lake. "In one word, everything."

The lake is the major reason why the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation (VCEDC) wanted to get involved in Phelps.

"We looked at other communities in Vilas County and decided this would be the first place to start," says VCEDC Project Manager Barry McLeane.

McLeane and Snook know Carl Ruedebusch well, and it serves their cause well.

Ruedebusch is the chairman of VCEDC and a developer. He bought the land on which "the big store" sits, and, with input from people in the town, proposed the Lumberman's Lodge idea with the grocery and hardware stores next door.

Snook can visualize the draw behind the restaurant and lodging right on the lake.

"The sun sets right there, so in the evening, this is just phenomenal," he says, looking west over the lake.

"I think a lot of people have been very hungry for this for a long time," says McLeane. "This time it's for real."

Phelps likely needs people in town, private investors, and economic development groups to help financially to make the vision a reality.

If so, it could happen within two years.

But the idea for revitalizing Phelps spans beyond just the small downtown area.

VCEDC helped the town set up a business accelerator in a newer building just south of downtown. The Phelps Chamber of Commerce has moved in, as has a barber shop. But there's still room.

"We're working actively to try and get a pharmacy in, and also some clinic space. We have high hopes for this building," Snook says.

The Aspirus clinic in Phelps has been shuttered for years.

"The average age in Phelps is 58, so we're a population that needs medical care," Snook says. "We really, really want to have a clinic back in town."

Between that goal and downtown revitalization, the people of Phelps seem to have an interest in improving their community. About 200 people attended a meeting in late January to learn more about the potential for changes in Phelps.

Story By: Ben Meyer

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
 Print Story Print Story | Email Story Email Story


RHINELANDER - Voters in Rhinelander will decide on April 7 if the city should raise its sales tax. The increase would be of a cent for every dollar. The proposal is an advisory question, so if it passes, the city would still need help from the state legislature if it passes.

+ Read More

WAUSAU - Police in Wausau want to talk to a man who might have tried to kidnap a child.

The child's father told police a man walked up to his seven-year-old and started talking. The man allegedly asked the child if the child was lost and grabbed the child's coat.

+ Read More

NORTHWOODS - Ants, ticks, wasps, and mosquitoes can cause problems during late spring. That means you'll need to prepare the yard for spring pests.

There are a few things you should do before spraying the yard.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - Farmers markets can encourage kids to eat healthy from an early age. They can also teach kids where their food comes from.

The Eagle River Revitalization Program hosts a special farmers market for children every year. It gives kids the chance to pick out vegetables and learn how they grow.

+ Read More
+ More Local News


MADISON - A new state law will take effect today, greatly expanding the collection of DNA samples by police.

Now DNA will be taken from anyone arrested for a violent felony.

Samples will be sent to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

The agency won't process the samples until a judge finds probable cause that a crime was committed.

+ Read More

INDIANAPOLIS - A newspaper reports that Indiana lawmakers have proposed limited protections for gays and lesbians while they try to quell concerns that a new law that supporters say protects religious liberties would allow discrimination.

+ Read More

MADISON - State education officials say more Wisconsin high school graduates are taking Advanced Placement exams and earning scores high enough for college credit.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's annual report on AP exam participation shows 34 percent of graduating seniors in 2014 took at least one exam. That's up from 19 percent of graduates a decade ago.

+ Read More

MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker's promise of a "big announcement" on April Fool's Day turned out to have nothing to do with presidential politics.

Walker, widely expected to compete for the GOP presidential nomination, took to Twitter to promise his followers big news at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

+ Read More
+ More Regional News

Click Here