A Northwoods Tradition, Made Right HereSubmitted: 03/20/2013
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

A Northwoods Tradition, Made Right Here
IRONWOOD - You probably recognize the name "Stormy Kromer".

You probably also know what the recognizable hats look like from seeing them around the Northwoods.

But do you know where and how they're made?

George "Stormy" Kromer was a semi-pro baseball player and railroad worker in Kaukauna in the early 1900s.

But old Stormy had a problem.

"He worked on the Chicago-Northwestern line for a long time, and he kept losing his hats in the wind, riding the trains. He brought a baseball hat home and asked Ida to sew a band around the hat, and the Stormy Kromer was born," says Gina Thorsen, the Stormy Kromer Vice President.

Before long, they took off, and were being mass produced in Milwaukee.

But that business was about to die in the early 2000s.

To save it, an Upper Peninsula family bought the brand and moved the production to Ironwood.

"We find that people who have hats almost think of it as a special club. When you see someone else wearing a hat, you might walk by and say, 'nice hat'," Thorsen says.

Since the hats started being made in Ironwood, they've gained even more popularity.

That's allowed the company to branch out into womens' Stormy Kromers, as well as other cold weather apparel.

That success has made it a staple of the community's economy.

"Here in Ironwood, it's a small town. Industries have left. Businesses have closed. To us it's really important to be able to provide jobs here with benefits and to treat them well and to provide them a place where they can spend their career," Thorsen says.

About 150 people work for the company in Ironwood.

They make hats that have become a symbol for people in the Northwoods and U.P.

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ARBOR VITAE - You won't want to wear your best clothes to one race in May.

Minocqua's Color Run Fundraiser is a 3K and 5K race for Arbor Vitae-Woodruff and MJ1 schools.

The race is one of the schools' biggest fundraisers for field trips, additional school supplies and equipment.

The Color Run raised almost $20,000 last year.

"It comes from all of the kids and their fundraising in the community, with the help of grandparents and parents and friends," says AVW Principal Rich Fortier.

The race will be at the Minocqua Park Complex on May 5.

To find out how to register, click below.

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MINOCQUA - You can travel all of Latin America and Spain and never leave the dinner table in Minocqua.

Minocqua Brewing Company is hosting a " Tango, Tapas, and Tempranillo" wine dinner Tuesday night.

Getting culturally creative with food can be tough during a slow tourism season.

That's why learning about new cuisine and sharing it with the locals is the chef's favorite part.

"I have used Chimichurri for fifteen years, but to actually research and find out where it came from and the story behind it is kind of cool," says Chef Scott Conley.

Minocqua Brewing hosts a wine dinner and cooking class each month.

For more info, click the link below.

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VILAS AND ONEIDA COUNTIES - Oneida and Vilas Counties will close their snowmobile trails this week. 

Lincoln County will also close its remaining trails. Zones 2 and 3 are already closed. Zone 1 will close at midnight on Monday, March 19.

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RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Police Department wants your help to purchase its next K-9 dog.

Their previous K-9, Drago, retired a few months ago and the department is now looking for a new one.

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RIB MOUNTAIN - A Wisconsin State Patrol Captain wants to know, who's ready to report for duty? The department is looking for  new cadets. But recruitment and training is no easy task.
"[It's] very hard to find qualified candidates. It's a struggle," said Wisconsin State Patrol Captain Adrian Logan.
Captain Logan wants five people to answer the call. 

The department's looking for new cadets who'll train to become state troopers.
However, the process of finding the right candidate is no easy task and takes dedication from both sides.
"It's a very extensive process," said Logan.
After passing a background check and interview, candidates will go through 12 weeks of field training, 26 weeks of training with an officer, then a yearlong probation period.
"You've got to be committed to it," said Logan.
The dedication for the role doesn't stop there. 

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RHINELANDER - A two vehicle crash caused Highway 8 to close down for almost an hour Monday.

The crashed happened around 1:30 p.m. west of Rhinelander.

A car was trying to turn into Roberts Repair when a truck hit it from behind.

There was one person in each car. At least one driver was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

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In his 20 years with the Vilas County Jail, administrator Bill Weiss can count on two hands how many times an inmate got out earlier than they should.

"It's pretty rare," Weiss said.

Weiss needed to add to that tally last week.  The jail let Edward Chosa Junior go as a "free" man on March 13, however that wasn't his correct release date.

"It was a clerical mistake," Weiss said.

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