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NEWS STORIES

Vilas County tourism thrives in 2012Submitted: 06/18/2013
Story By Lauren Stephenson


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.

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MINOCQUA - A Green Bay man died in a snowmobile crash in Minocqua Tuesday night.

The Minocqua Police Department says the crash happened at 7:13 p.m. on Lower Kaubashine Road near the intersection of Camp Nine Road and Cedar Falls Drive.

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CORNUCOPIA, WISCONSIN - The National Park Service says it's still too dangerous to explore the Apostle Islands ice caves off the Wisconsin shore of Lake Superior.

When accessible, the majestic ice caves have attracted tens of thousands of visitors to the area.

The park service doesn't know if the ice will be safe enough this season.

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MADISON - The state appeals court says a judge properly moved a teen offender into the adult system after saying he thought the boy would be safer there than in the state's troubled youth prison.

The teen was accused of sexually assaulting a fifth-grader.

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VILAS COUNTY - A 77-year-old man died in a crash near Boulder Junction late Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol, it happened around 3:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 51 and County Highway H.

Investigators think a van went through an intersection and hit a semi truck.

"There was injury," said Boulder Junction Fire Chief Matthew Reuss. "The two passengers in the van had to be extricated. One was taken to Howard Young Medical Center for further care. The driver of the semi was uninjured and the second passenger in the van was pronounced dead at the scene."

According to Wisconsin State Patrol, the driver of the van is a 68-year-old woman from Colby. Crews later took her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield for non-life threatening injuries. Her passenger, a 77-year-old male from Colby, died in the crash. They were both wearing seatbelts. 

The driver of the semi is 63 years old and from South Range. 

Traffic was rerouted through Boulder Junction for several hours and was reopened shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Several units responded to the scene.

"Because we had multiple patients, we dispatched multiple ambulance units," Reuss said. "We called in resources from Arbor Vitae for traffic control and we called Manitowish Waters for help in extrication and ambulance service as well as Medic 5 out of Howard Young."

State Patrol and the Vilas County Sheriff's Office will investigate the crash.

Police will not release the names until the families are notified. 

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STEVENS POINT - A baby in Portage County ended up in the hospital for seizures twice in three days last fall.  Police think the mother's live-in boyfriend may have shaken that baby.

Matthew Huettl, 25, pleaded not guilty to felony charges for first-degree reckless injury and child abuse in Portage County Court on Tuesday.

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EAGLE RIVER - The Vilas County Jail hopes to add two new corrections officers in 2017. But the jail needs more applicants by Friday.

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RHINELANDER - When police arrested Alexander Durand for stealing a car, they found he had been stealing mail as well.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office arrested Durand, 21, Saturday for driving a car stolen from a house near Rhinelander. During that investigation, officers found a lot of other people's mail on Durand's property.

The mail was from all over Oneida County as well as other counties.  The Sheriff's Office will contact the people whose mail has been found.

Durand is due in court January 23.

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