RHINELANDER - We can often judge how the economy is doing, by the strength of the housing market.
Things have been rough since the housing bubble burst in 2007.
Buyers and sellers are just starting to feel good again.
But how long will that feeling last?
Dave Olson's house has been for sale for a year.
He hasn't hired a broker.
But he thinks this is the summer to sell.
"You know that there are people out there buying homes, so there are more people looking than maybe what there was a year ago," Olson said.
That's optimism that homeowners in the Northwoods haven't felt lately.
Kim Brixius has been selling homes for 16 years.
This winter was her best ever.
She thinks that's because a historic opportunity is almost closed for good.
"The interest rates and the historically low values," Brixius said. "I think it's driving people to realize if they wait much longer, they're gonna miss out."
Interest rates are historically low because the Federal Reserve is buying bonds to keep them there.
But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says if the economy continues to improve, they will slowly step back.
"If the incoming data supports the view that the economy is able to sustain a reasonable cruising speed we will ease the pressure on the accelerator by gradually reducing the pace of purchases,"Bernanke said.
Brixius thinks that would bring Wisconsin home sales to a screeching halt.
"All that could put the brakes on the buyer situation, so then sellers may be waiting a lot longer than they thought,"Brixius said.
Regardless, Olson is staying positive.
"I'm very optimistic," Olson said. "I'm thinking one that the market should be getting better; it has to be getting better."
And hopefully the Northwoods won't have to experience another housing burst anytime soon.
ANTIGO - Messages of support have been pouring in throughout the state since the prom shooting tragedy in Antigo.
Two Antigo women are continuing to support the community by collecting donations not only for the family of the shooting victim, but for the family of the shooter as well.
You can find a box at the Thirsty Soul in Antigo where people are placing words of encouragement, cash, and gift cards for the Wagner and Cooper families.
Lisa Sennholz is a mother of two Antigo High School students. Her son was at prom the night of the shooting. After that night, Lisa knew that something had to be done.
"My first instinct was to do something, to actually reach out and help in some way," said Sennholz. "And I said, I just feel like we need to ask the community to rally around these families and give support."
Lisa and Diane Kondrath, the owner of the Thirsty Soul, originally just hoped to collect cards of encouragement for both the Cooper family and the Wagner family. Soon, they began to collect gift cards and other monetary donations.
"I am overwhelmed with how many people have come in, and cared for both families equally," said Kondrath.
RHINELANDER - For the last seven months, salesmen at Rhinelander's Slumberland Furniture worked in a dark, cramped warehouse. After crews tore down the old building on Stevens Street, crews were busy building a new building on the old one's footprint. That work took longer than expected, but the new Slumberland will open Saturday.
Newswatch 12 got a walk-through with the owner and store manager Friday. The new building is 19,000 square feet, offering about 2,000 sq.-ft. more than the old showroom. The new building features a more open layout with raised ceilings.
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