Snow events mean big business for the NorthwoodsSubmitted: 02/08/2013
Story By Hayley Tenpas

EAGLE RIVER - Traffic around the Northwoods might be a little busy this weekend.

But that's making plenty of business owners happy, thanks to a little "white gold."

Up in the Northwoods it does more than add to the beauty of the landscape.

It's bringing in business that is much needed.

After a winter with weather ups and downs, the snow is finally here.

"It's a blessing from the sky," said Matt Rankin, owner of Eagle River Inn and Resort.

That blessing couldn't be timed better.

Eagle River is hosting thousands at the USA Hockey "Pond Hockey Championship"

"The energy level at the pond hockey is, I've never been to anything that's higher. It is amazing," said Conrad Heeg from the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Nordic Ski League State Championships returns to Rhinelander.

And all this white stuff is bringing in the green.

"It's just been phenomenal, it packs the lodging. Of course people need to go out to eat and buy gas and hopefully do some shopping while they're here, so it trickles down to our whole economy," said Heeg.

Over at the Eagle River Inn and Resort- all rooms are full.

"Business has been great, thanks to the pond hockey and snow, it's excellent and snowmobilers, with everybody," said Rankin.

The Rhinelander Café and Pub is already gearing up for skier traffic this weekend.

"That's a lot of families coming into the area, and my whole goal is to make sure they have a good time here in Rhinelander, and they want to come back maybe in the summer time because they've enjoyed the community," said Rhinelander Café and Pub owner Mark Gutteter.

In the meantime, the economy is enjoying its new company.

The Pond Hockey Championship and Nordic Ski State Championships continue throughout the rest of the weekend.

Pond Hockey will bring 2 thousand players from about 30 different states to Eagle River.

The Nordic Ski Championships will host almost 400 skiers and their families.

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MAUSTON - Authorities are investigating the death of a person who was found unresponsive in Decorah Lake early Friday.

Kyle Lynch, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden for Juneau County, says he was called to the scene to assist in a boat search about 1:30 a.m. He also says the Mauston Fire Department recovered the body, which was found in the water.

The Mauston Police Department says attempts were made to rescue the individual, but the Juneau County Coroner's Office pronounced the individual dead at the scene. Police have provided few other details, and the victim's name has not been released.

Mauston is about 70 miles northwest of Madison.

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TOMAH - The Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center says it has adopted another plan to improve patient care.

The La Crosse Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1QMsDMZ) that Friday's release of the "100-day plan" comes almost 11 months after media reports that veterans at the center were prescribed excessive doses of opioid pain-killers and that employees who spoke out faced retaliation from top officials.

The plan, which follows a 30-day plan announced in May, outlines steps for improving access to care, employee engagement and restoring trust.

Among other things, it calls for recruitment of psychiatric staff, employee forums and listening sessions, and opening an employee wellness center.

Several Tomah VA officials — including former Director Mario Desanctis and former Chief of Staff David Houlihan — have been fired since the problems emerged early this year.

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APPLETON - The U.S. Marshals Service says a convicted sex offender who was wanted for violating the terms of his release has been arrested in Appleton.

The agency says 63-year-old L.C. Streeter, of Milwaukee, was previously convicted of four separate sexual assaults from 1976 to 1985. Wisconsin committed him as a sexually violent person in 1996, and he remained in treatment until his release in 2013 under intensive supervision.

The service said in a statement that he cut off his GPS and electronic monitoring bracelets and fled supervision on Monday, resulting in a warrant for his arrest. Federal marshals and Appleton police arrested him without incident in Appleton on Friday.

Kevin Carr, the U.S. marshal for eastern Wisconsin, says Streeter was "an absolute danger to the community based upon his past convictions."

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WAUSAU - This has been Wisconsin's deadliest gun-deer season in the past five years, with two shooting fatalities already recorded.

Daily Herald Media reports (http://wdhne.ws/1HvNth3 ) that the two fatalities brought to an end a three-year series of seasons that had been free of firearm deaths. Four other hunters also have been wounded.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, hunters violated some of the fundamental rules of gun safety in all the incidents.

A man was killed last Sunday in Columbia County when he was shot while passing a loaded rifle to a companion in a tree stand. Wearing mittens, she grabbed the gun near the trigger and it went off. On Monday, a hunter in Waushara County was killed by a stray bullet.

The nine-day season runs through Sunday.

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MOUNT HOREB - A southern Wisconsin school district has cancelled plans for elementary school students to read a children's book about a transgender girl after a group threatened to sue.

The Capital Times reports (http://bit.ly/1TadnaG ) that the Mount Horeb Area School District released a statement saying it won't proceed with its planned reading of "I Am Jazz."

Parents were told last week that Mount Horeb Primary Center students would read the book because one student identifies as a girl but was born with male anatomy.

A Florida-based group, the Liberty Counsel, threatened to sue, saying concerned parents had reached out and that reading the book would violate parental rights.

The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Liberty Counsel as a hate group that advocates for "anti-LGBT discrimination, under the guise of religious liberty."

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THREE LAKES - In many communities, it doesn't feel like the holidays without first lighting a tree. In Three Lakes Friday, that meant more than 3,000 lights on a 95-foot tree.

The tree-lighting ceremony was a part of the 21st Festival of Lights. You could also find Santa and Mrs. Claus among the crowd.

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RHINELANDER - People deposited more than just money at a Rhinelander bank Friday morning.  A blood drive at People's State Bank allowed donors to double down on what they gave.

Nurses from the Community Blood Center took donations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the "Give a Pint, Give a Pound" blood drive.  For every pint donated, the Blood Center will give a pound of food to the Lakeland Food Pantry.

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