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NEWS STORIES

Iron mine could help rail service push in NorthwoodsSubmitted: 11/22/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - A group representing more than a dozen northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan counties would love to see increased rail service in their areas.

The Northwoods Rail Transit Commission believes an iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills would dramatically help their efforts.

The Commission formed last year to push for better freight rail service in the North.

Service by rail companies has slowed or stopped in many areas of the Northwoods.

Rail companies often say there's not enough freight to make service profitable for them.

An operating iron ore mine would increase freight traffic heavily.

"You can see what happened with frac sand mining in the Chippewa (Falls) area. If that mine becomes operational and starts shipping ore, a lot of that could come east toward the port in Escanaba. That will help give reason and volume to reopen that Highway 8 line that we're talking about," says Northwoods Rail Transit Commission Chair Wendy Gehlhoff at a meeting of the Commission Friday in Rhinelander.

Most of the rail line that hugs Highway 8 from Ladysmith to Pembine currently sits unused.

The Canadian National railway shut down service, saying it wasn't profitable.

The director of Michigan Tech University's Rail Transportation Program addressed the Commission Friday.

He stressed that for a rail company to operate, it needs to see a way to make money on carrying freight in a certain area.

"If we have high volumes, low value, long distance - if you don't look at rail or intermodal, you're absolutely nuts. It has to be in the equation, or you're not going to be able to compete with the other regions of this nation or other nations," said Dr. Pasi Lautala.

The Commission's next task is to get better information from companies on how they would use rail service, if it was available.

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RHINELANDER - Many people in the Northwoods got the chance to try out canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards this weekend.

Mel's Trading Post held a paddle demo day in Rhinelander.

Anyone could come out to Hodag Park to try out the equipment.

The store's owner thinks it's good for people to try boats out before buying them. 

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More than 5,000 people were in St. Germain on Sunday for the Classic Sled Roundup. 

The Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain organized the event.

This is the 11th year of the event. 

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WISCONSIN DELLS - A 21-year-old Chicago man who went missing in the Wisconsin River near the Wisconsin Dells remains missing.

Police in Columbia County are using sonar to try and find his body. Police say the man went under water around 7:15pm on Saturday while swimming to shore and didn't resurface.

Divers worked until midnight to find the man. Search efforts continued Sunday morning. Police say the man was fishing on a rock island area and appeared to get caught in a current while swimming back to shore.

Family members and witnesses tried to help him but couldn't. The victim's name is not being released at this time.

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TOMAHAWK - Thousands of people came out Sunday to see the Main Street Memories Car Show in Tomahawk.

People from as far as Minnesota came to see about 300 cars.

Tomahawk Main Street Inc. hosted the show, which has been going on for 21 years. Adults and kids came out to see many different cars, the oldest being a 101-year-old 1914 Model T Ford.

Cars ranged in color and style.

"This is a 1937 three quarter truck, military vehicle," said American Legion Post Commander Lowell Liberty. "It holds the capacity of two guys in the front, and six, or an infantry squad in the back."

Kids could also enjoy a petting zoo and games throughout the afternoon. Car owners hope more people come and enjoy the show next year.

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STAR LAKE - Three people remain in the hospital after a car crossed the center line on County Highway K in Star Lake on Saturday.

The Vilas County Sheriff's Office got the call of an accident around 3:45pm Saturday.

51-year-old Eric Sather of Conover was heading east when he crossed the center line and hit another car. 67-year-old John Schroeder from New Holstein and his wife, Jane, were in the other car.

One male driver was flown to Aspirus Hospital in Wausau, while the female passenger was taken to Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff. The other male driver was taken to Eagle River Memorial Hospital and later flown to Marshfield.

Alcohol may be a factor in the crash.

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LAND O' LAKES - The Land O Lakes Area Artisans (LOLA) Center went through some remodeling for its classroom.

After a few months, the classroom is finally finished, and it's being dedicated to a woman who left a big impact on the community.

Friends and family got together to remember Sandra Brown, who shared her love of art with the Land O Lakes community. She passed away in 2010.

Sandra gave her time and skills to areas that didn't have art programs, and they found a way to show their appreciation.

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On Saturday there was a craft fair and car show at the Woodruff Town Hall.

The Dr. Kate Museum organized the craft fair.

The money made went to a scholarship the museum gives out.

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