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Northwoods Spotlight: Record Vintage crowd; 20K expected for DerbySubmitted: 01/16/2013
Story By Joe Dufek


EAGLE RIVER - Last weekend was the first of two world championship snowmobile races in Eagle River.
Racers took us back in time, hopping on sleds at least a quarter-century old.

The Vintage Snowmobile Championships showed drivers racing on sleds which were made before 1985. Several Northwoods racers took the checkered flag on the final day of action. Including Jeff Stoxen of Rhinelander - winning in the 440 Sport Mod. Racing these old machines is a thrill.

"It's been getting bigger, and bigger," says Jeff Stoxen of Rhinelander - one of the vintage racers. "Everybody is one big family for vintage. Everyone helps everybody out."


A record 7,000 fans watched the Vintage races here at Eagle River Derby Track. Over 20,000 are expected for this weekend's World Championship Derby.

Derby track owner Chuck Decker adds, "the big news is the $60,000 prize to the World Champion this year. Just the one class alone is going to pay out $90,000."

Last year's defending champion Nick Van Strydonk will return to defend his crown. The Tomahawk racer is excited to be racing with the event celebrating it's 50th year.

Several past champions will be honored on Friday night. Time trials get underway Thursday. The World Championship is set for 3pm Sunday afternoon.

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LAONA - Workers will need to start from scratch to rebuild the Silver Lake Inn supper club in Laona.

Only rubble and a stubborn brick chimney remain there right now. Fire ripped through the building in late November. Now, those charred remains have been torn down.

Owner Karen Davis said they plan to rebuild. She said her goal is to have it open again by the end of the year.

Laona Fire Chief Dave Rosio said he has yet to receive a report from the state fire marshal, who investigated the cause of the fire.


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RHINELANDER - Cracked concrete, twisted rebar, and overgrown trees and bushes doesn't paint the most ideal picture for a park.  But a Rhinelander alderman sees the perfect chance for a peaceful place to enjoy nature.

Alderman Alex Young hopes to turn an old snow dumping dock site into a "pocket park."  The site sits where Norway Street runs into the Wisconsin River behind Ripco Credit Union and the DNR Service Center building.

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VILAS COUNTY - For more than three years, Vilas County tried to create a campground and trail system in the eastern side of the county. 

Thanks to land easements and secured funding, that plan is now becoming a reality.

The 10-mile trail will follow an old railroad corridor between Eagle River and Conover.

The trail will connect the new campground on Torch Lake to the two communities.

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TOMAHAWK - Tomahawk High School sporting events got an attendance boost this winter. At the same time, local charities benefited from the community's generosity.

The school's Varsity Club sponsored six nights of special events, one for each winter sport. The Varsity Club gave out T-shirts printed with team rosters. Meanwhile, fans brought donations for local charities.

"Each kid would walk in and they'd put on their T-shirt," said Varsity Club member Jackie Elliott. "When we got our student section going, they were all together, and you just had this block of white. It was awesome."

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Marathon County Sheriff's Captain Dale Wisnewski said Shane J. Cash, 45, of Wisconsin Rapids was drilling holes in the ceiling on Thursday when he fell from his ladder and died on scene.

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WESTON - Dozens of people planned to show up to Sunday's vigil. Community members brought balloons, ribbons and, of course, candles.

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MADISON - The Legislature's finance committee is set to take up a package of bills designed to curb opioid addiction.

Republican Rep. John Nygren has written 11 bills based on recommendations from Gov. Scott Walker's opioid task force. Walker called a special legislative session in January to pass the bills. The finance committee is expected to vote on seven of the proposals Monday.

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