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A Northwoods Tradition, Made Right HereSubmitted: 03/20/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


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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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 09/28/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The rain we've had recently caused some problems with the potato harvest. We talked to potato growers in the Antigo area about how they think the season went.

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And we'll update you on the progress of the Rhinelander Ice Arena expansion.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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ANTIGO - The rain this summer put a damper on some people's outdoor plans, but it was great for potato farmers.

The rainfall made this one of best growing seasons in Wisconsin's history, but now that rainfall is delaying harvesting.

Potato growers can't dig up potatoes when they're wet because they won't store well.

But if they wait too long growers run the risk of the crops getting damaged by frost.

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STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point police want your help finding suspects in two possible stabbings.  The stabbings happened early Friday morning and early Sunday morning near downtown Stevens Point.

Friday, four young men got into a fight on Main Street. One man said he was stabbed in the chest.  Police say the suspect is a black man in his mid-20s, about 5' 9" tall, with a muscular build and short hair.  The victim was treated at the hospital and released.

Sunday morning, police responded to an incident at 2nd Street and Crosby Avenue. Witnesses heard glass breaking and people yelling about a stabbing.  Police don't have a victim or suspect description in that case, but they don't believe the two stabbings are connected.

If you have any information about the stabbings, call Detective Sgt. Gruber at 715-346-1518.

You can also call Portage County Crimestoppers to remain anonymous at 888-346-6600.

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Wisconsin emergency management workers provided the estimate on damage to homes, businesses and public infrastructure.

In an update Tuesday night, the State Emergency Operations Center put the damage to homes and businesses at over $1.6 million dollars.

Damage to public infrastructure, including roads, bridges and trails, has reached over $8 million dollars.

The numbers should go higher, as some counties are still not reporting.

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RHINELANDER - People in Rhinelander will be able to cast their November election ballots starting on Friday.
It's the earliest people in Wisconsin have ever been able to vote.

The absentee ballots are stacked and ready for Friday at the Rhinelander City Clerk's office.
To make the early voting process go as smoothly as possible, you will need to come prepared.

"When you come in make sure that you're registered. That is important. Make sure you're registered in the city if you're coming into us," said Clerk Valerie Foley.

Registering is easy; all you need is a photo ID and proof of residence.
The registration form takes a couple of minutes, and then you will be able to fill out an election ballot.

"I think it is going to be a very busy day. I think people are pretty interested in the issues. And I think a lot of them would like to get and make sure they can vote if they're not certain they're going to make it to the polls in November or not," said Foley.

The clerk's office has already sent out about 200 ballots to people who have requested them.

Now, it is preparing for the early voter in-person rush.

If you are unsure whether you are registered to vote or where to go for early voting, the clerk's office suggests voters visit myvote.wi.gov for more information.



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"The old adage, make hay while the sun shines, that's not just for farmers," Schoeneck said.  "That's for us too."

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