BOULDER JUNCTION - Usually when you watch the news, you hear about how bad the economy is.
Jobs are down, home sales are sluggish, and people aren't spending money.
But one Northwoods county stands out.
Tourism spending went up a full 10% in Vilas County in 2012.
Both small business owners and Vilas County's Tourism and Publicity Department say they're thriving because they're working together.
John and Sue Altschwager manage the White Birch Village Resort.
When the economy collapsed in 2008, most of their returning guests shortened their vacations.
The Altschwagers had to find new ways to bring in visitors.
"The first step obviously was become active in our local chambers of commerce. And participate in the activities and participate in town, which hadn't happened a lot in the past," John Altschwager said.
They also revamped their website, and joined Facebook.
Going to sporting shows and promoting their winter ice fishing packages also proved to be a success.
"We tend to find that once we get people here, get people to the area, and they see what's offered, we got them," Altschwager said.
They also get new customers by word of mouth.
One of their most loyal customers,Robert Kurzweil, says he's introduced over 30 people to the resort.
"My wife and I come in the spring and in the fall, and then the whole family in July. And there's roughly 38 of us, all family, friends, neighbors. It's wonderful. We have a lot of fun."
Altschwager says it's up to all business owners to bring the tourism industry back.
RHINELANDER - Cracked concrete, twisted rebar, and overgrown trees and bushes don'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.
RHINELANDER - People lived through detours, dust, and demolition throughout most of 2016 in downtown Rhinelander. Residents won't see that kind of work in 2017, but the city is planning more closures and road work to finish up the Streetscape Project.
Crews will start with the Davenport Street Bridge shutting down for a month in starting April 17. Public Works Director Tim Kingman says some sections of concrete, sidewalk, and asphalt pavement shifted, settled and cracked over the winter.
WAUSAU - A contractor fell from a ladder and died at the construction site of the new Hilton Garden Inn in Wausau last week. Now, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death.
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.
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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