RHINELANDER - Approximately 3:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, Rhinelander Athletic Director Charlie LaHam received a phone call from the WIAA. It was a decision on Rhinelander's appeal from a post-season ban. The WIAA granted what is termed "temporary relief" of the ban. It makes Rhinelander eligible to participate in the this season's playoffs.
Rhinelander was in the final year of a four-year suspension for leaving the Wisconsin Valley Conference voluntarily. Last week, Rhinelander earned their third victory in the Great Northern Conference with a win over Merrill. The win guarantees the Hodags a .500 conference record, the first criteria for qualifying in the playoffs.
Messmer-Shorewood, a team in the Milwaukee area, had the same situation last year. They unsuccessfully appealed to the WIAA for playoff entry. After taking the case to court, they were admitted to the playoffs.
Rhinelander closes out the regular season at Medford on Friday night. A Rhinelander victory, would guarantee a spot in the playoffs. Rhinelander has not appeared in the playoffs in 23 years.
FOREST COUNTY - Forest Count and Wisconsin Off-Road Vehicle Park Inc. (WORVPI) have found a 10,000 acre plot of land they would like to buy for an off-road park, according to WORVPI President John Schnorr.
Schnorr wouldn't discuss the exact location in Forest County, but said they would hope to buy the parcels by June 2014. Right now they’re contracting an engineering firm to evaluate the land.
"That's so environmental concerns can be met," Schnorr said. "We'll look at that as well as a pleasurable experience for an off-road visitor who is going to come up and spend hopefully a weeks vacation in Forest County."
Forest County leaders believe an off-road park could help bring more tourists to the area, and with that more money. The county has the fifth worst unemployment rate, 7.9 percent, in Wisconsin.
WORVPI used Ripon College to perform a feasibility study on the off-road park. It says the average off-roader will travel 300 miles to visit an off-road park. It also projected an off-road park could bring in nearly $28 million per year for Forest County businesses.
"It will take us some time to operate and open it up and develop the trails, the camp sites, the amenities inside," Schnorr said. "Realistically we could see an opening date of Memorial Day of 2015."
The park would host ATVs, motorcycles and other vehicles on off-road trails.
People can help fund the park by purchasing $150 charter membership passes. More than 30 have already been purchased. Schnorr says only 100 will be available.
"The pass will entitle the holder to a park pass, an annual park pass, for the first year when the park opens," Schnorr said. "It will give us some capital up front and afford them a discounted price down the road."
Even with the progress, Schnorr says the project is still in the early stages.
"If you are an optimist, you think a huge amount of progress has been made," Schnorr said. "But if you are a pessimist, not enough progress has been made."
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