RHINELANDER - Starting tomorrow, libraries across the Northwoods will take a giant technological leap forward.
Sahara, the new search engine will go in library's card catalogs north of Wausau.
Ed Hughes, Rhinelander District Library Director, is thrilled for the change.
"We're moving to a new online catalog and it's a lot of work behind the scenes and my staff, but the public won't see that big of a change in fact the
changes that they will see will mostly be for the better. They'll be able to find things easier, it'll be a much better system that we have currently. It looks like it's a simple change but it's not. It's a lot of hard work behind the scenes."
Hard work, but Hughes says its about time, considering the old system was 5 to 6 years old.
"I've worked with this company's innovative interfaces before in another library and they're very good. They're considered the Cadillac of all library systems. We're looking forward to it."
Hughes was quick to compare the new program to software similar to Amazon.
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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