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.
RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry hopes you'll sample some of the area's best salads and win some prizes on Saturday.
The pantry is hosting the Garden Fresh Salad Bowl event at Holiday Acres. It's a fundraiser for the pantry, and several local restaurants are participating.
"It should be a very nice event. It's a beautiful setting," said Rhinelander Area Food Pantry Executive Director Guy Hansen. "We've got 12 different restaurants that have contributed salads toward this."
About half of the crowd will win handcrafted door prizes from the Northwoods Turners. The event runs from 11 to 1. Tickets are available at the food pantry, CT's Deli, Forth Floral, and People's State Bank.
RHINELANDER - People with developmental disorders can hear plenty of negatives when it comes to succeeding in school. That's why a Northwoods school offers a program to help these students prove the doubters wrong.
Nicolet College offers Jump! Start, which helps people with special needs go to college and prepare for the workforce.
College student Ashley Mathy has Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a condition listed on the autism spectrum.
As a high school senior, she was told she would never make it to college because she would fail.
"You're going to have failures. You're going to have people tell you that you can't do things all the time whether you have a disability or you don't have one. And you just have to prove them wrong because if you don't, then you'll just let failure take you away," said Mathy.
RHINELANDER - Nothing gets the competitive juices flowing like racing to fix a car's fuse box. Nicolet College in Rhinelander hosted 12 Northwoods high schools for some friendly competition with a specific goal in mind.
The competitions varied from auto skills to welding to even cupcake baking. The goal was for students to begin thinking about college.
"Getting to see the inner workings of a vehicle, getting to work and learn at the same time, it makes me think more about college and what I want to do with my future," said Crandon sophomore, Kegan Wilson.
CRANDON - Cutting down your time in front of a digital screen can be a tough task.
But the Forest County Health Department wants you to make a special effort to limit screen time next week. It's encouraging people to participate in Screen-Free Week.
"We're missing part of the world," said Forest County Health Department Director Jill Krueger. "We need to reconnect, go back, and discover all of the things that we loved before we had all of this technology."
TOMAHAWK - Unless you find yourself in trouble, you don't usually sit down and talk with a cop.
The Tomahawk Police Department held its monthly Coffee with a Cop meeting Wednesday morning.
It gives people the chance to pull up a chair and talk to Chief Al Elvins about their questions or concerns.
Those concerns change with the season.
Warmer weather means kids will be out of school soon and there'll be more foot traffic.
And don't forget about those motorcycles.
"Watch out for the motorcycles. So often they hit a blind spot on us and you don't see them. If you are driving a bike, be aware of your surroundings. Remember that four wheels don't always see your two wheels," said Chief Elvins.
The city's drug takeback will be open all day on Saturday. The department does it twice a year.
You can bring in any over the counter or prescription drugs to the station's drop-off box.
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