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.
RHINELANDER - Our record breaking snow storm left more than 6,000 people across the Northwoods without power.
WPS had to rely on 20 extra crews from Green Bay, Wausau and Menominee to restore power.
But getting to the outages was a challenge.
A representative for WPS says workers are expecting even more outages to be reported.
"Not all of the back roads are plowed yet and that's where a lot of outages are located," said Leah Van Zile, WPS Community Relations leader. "Throughout the day as the temperatures warm, we expect to receive additional calls due to the unloading of snow off of the tree branches."
Eagle River had one of the highest number of customers affected by the outages.
Representatives for WPS say this was one of the hardest winters they've had to deal with.
"We've had some really, really severe wind chills which has really made the temperatures below zero. Typically, only in emergencies do we work in those conditions," said Van Zile. "But pretty much any other time, whether it's a rain storm, a snow storm, a wind storm, our guys are out there working, getting that power back on."
The number of outages dropped below 4,000 since earlier today.
If you're still without power to call 1800-450-7240.
ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Do bugs seem to be everywhere in your home, even though there's snow outside? One type of bug in Wisconsin spends the winter inside our houses! They look like Lady Bugs, but they are actually not native to this country.
"They're actually called a multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle. They can be anywhere from a pale yellow to a darker orange and they have black spots on them but you'll see some that don't have spots," says Kerri Ison, UW Oneida County Extension.
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