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Nortrax, division John Deere, opens facility in Merrill Submitted: 08/19/2017
MERRILL - A $5 million facility that just opened in Merrill hopes to give people a place to learn more about heavy equipment and technology.

On Friday, Nortrax, a division of John Deere, celebrated the grand opening of a facility. Dozens of community members and officials were at the ribbon cutting.The process to open up the location on South Pine Ridge started a few years ago.


"We're close to the Wausau-area, which is a good construction area. We're also here to take care of our forestry customers, [who] seem to be located more rurally and we're very pleased to be close to them also," said John Deere Construction and Forestry President Max Guinn.

Guinn says people can stop for parts and get their John Deere products serviced at Nortrax.

As of right now, the opening of the new facility has created three jobs, but John Deere representatives say there could be more opportunities.

"As the market grows and our market chair grows, the demand to take care of our customers will grow and the opportunities for employment will as well," said General Manager Matt Hanson.

Hanson also says there used to be facilities in Mosinee and Monico, but John Deere supervisors combined them in what they consider to be a more central location in Merrill.


Story By: Allie Herrera

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 LOCAL NEWS

TRIPOLI - The Tripoli Log Church celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. Most people say it's one of the oldest buildings in that community.

On Saturday, many people who grew up going to the church went back to celebrate its history.

"At four years old I started coming to Sunday school," said Elise Marheine who grew up going to the church.

"I was baptized here and I've been here just about ever since," said Skip Rice, who also grew up attending The Log Church.

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RHINELANDER - The Oneida County Sheriff's Office needs help searching for a man who walked away from custody.

Jered Decker walked out of St. Mary's Hospital earlier today while under custody and still has not been found.

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ST. GERMAIN - The Milky Way Coffee Company has a full service espresso bar just like any coffee house. 

The only difference?

They're doing all of this from a food truck. 

"This is pretty unusual to have a full coffee house in a mobile unit," said co-owner Barb Guerra. 

Sisters Barb and Deb take the Milky Way Coffee Company trailer to different events in the Northwoods.

They're at the St. Germain Flee Market on Mondays. The other vendors love coming to get coffee and food.
All of the drinks follow a galactic theme.

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RHINELANDER -
Editor's note: an earlier version of this story inaccurately credited the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation with securing grant funding for internet projects in Land O' Lakes and Conover.  That money was secured through grant applications from ChoiceTEL.  Newswatch 12 regrets the error.

Paul Osterman can't rest for too long on a congratulations from Governor Scott Walker.

"It's a busy time, absolutely," Osterman said.  "Now the real work begins."

The Northwoods Connect CEO joined Walker at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport on Friday morning to celebrate about $110,000 for new broadband towers in Oneida and Florence Counties.

"We're growing pretty rapidly, which is exciting and hard at times too," Osterman said.

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VILAS COUNTY - Vilas County prides itself on its miles of trails. Whether it's cross country skiing, walking or biking, there are plenty of options. But one of the longest is the Heart of Vilas County bike system.

"We have 47 miles of paved bike trails. I don't think that any place in the state can match that, it's awesome," said Mary Vangrinsven.

Those nearly 50 miles make up the Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail.

"It's like being on vacation every day of my life," said Vangrinsven.

When the trail started nearly 20 years ago, bikers, walkers and runners were very excited.
"I was pretty amazed by how much use it was getting. I wondered if this was just a fad or whether it was something real," said Vangrinsven.

But it was real. The finished trail goes through four different communities.

"It's been a great addition to what you can do in Vilas County," said Ken Wiesner.

Bikers can go from St. Germain to Manitowish Waters and hit up Sayner and Boulder Junction along the way.

"In my opinion, it's really changed the local economy for the better," said Wiesner.

Every Wednesday, a group of nearly 50 people bike along a part of the Heart of Vilas County Bike trail.

"I think we're really finding, especially in the areas up here, that we have very active adults," said Vangrinsven.

Wiesner and his wife Barb joined the group because they have a cabin in Vilas County.

"We've made a lot of new friends over the past 10 years, primarily in the biking," said Wiesner.

Whether you do it with a group of friends, or by yourself, there's also something to enjoy along the trail.

There are shops along the trail to rent bikes if you don't have one. If you would like more information on the trail, click on the link below.

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MANITOWISH WATERS - Manitowish Waters would certainly look different today without its cranberry marshes.

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MANITOWISH WATERS - Northwoods tourism thrives off of fishing, hunting, and lake life.

Sometimes, people want to take a piece of that Northwoods culture home with them.

You might not recognize this sign in its beginning stages.

Mike Patek makes these handmade signs under the name "Vintage Cabin Signs" in Manitowish Waters. He controls everything from the cut to the paint.

His signs go all over the country. They're based off of Northwoods vacation images from the 30s and 40s; think old fishing magazines, travel posters, and postcards.

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