LAC DU FLAMBEAU - People may think casinos bring in more than enough money for Native American tribes but that's not always the case.
The Lac du Flambeau tribe realizes it needs more business diversity.
So the tribe founded the Lac du Flambeau Economic Development Summit in 2012.
More than 100 people from 9 tribes and 5 states are attending the 3-day summit this week.
The chairman of the Oneida Tribe traveled to the summit to learn how his tribe can improve business.
"Oneida has 17,000 Oneida tribal members. We have 55% of our youth still live in poverty in spite of a successful casino. We do need to diversify, we do need to provide more jobs to our tribal members," said Oneida Tribe Chairman Edward Delgado.
They hope to come away with new partnerships and promising opportunities.
"The biggest challenges that tribes face is very high unemployment, generally north of 50% unemployment, fairly high dropout rates. It's a cultural challenge. Tribes tend to be closed communities. And as a result, having economic development come to tribes is a challenge. So our approach has been, let's reach out and bring it here," explained Brent McFarland, Chief Operating Officer of the LDF Business Development Corporation.
The theme of this year's summit is "Developing Green Energy Solutions and Technology-based Business."
People could choose from 15 workshops ranging in topics from broadband internet development to opening a grocery store.
Organizers believe the summit benefits more than just the tribal members.
"This isn't just going to benefit tribal communities, we're trying to develop economic engines that can reach out and help all these other communities on the outside. You know, stimulate job growth," explained Economic Development Summit coordinator Damon Fleming.
The summit wraps up Thursday.
All the presentations will be uploaded to the tribe's YouTube channel below.
RHINELANDER - Hodag Park received a sizable donation Thursday morning. New sand was dropped off to help the Rhinelander Parks Department grow the beach back to its original shape.
There were thousands of pounds of sand dropped off and spread out. There was a high need for this because of all the rain we've had this season.
"It was getting in pretty poor shape and washing out more and more, but this year especially, it just seems like we've lost a lot of sand. So now we're going to shape it up nicely and hopefully it'll last the year," said Rhinelander Parks Director, Jeremy Biolo.
All of that sand was donated and delivered by a company in Rhinelander.
"Musson Brothers, Inc. donated all the sand and they said we could help ourselves to as much as we want, which is unbelievable because this beach really needed some work," said Biolo. "Every little bit like that helps our community out and it improves the community. It's awesome that the Musson Brothers stepped up and would do that for us."
CONOVER - June 22 makes it the 14th day of rainfall for us this month, and it's not been very convenient.
People all over northcentral Wisconsin have had to deal with storm damage or flooding in some way.
Pioneer Lake in Conover has had a particularly tough time with flooding not only because of the rain, but also because of a dam upstream.
"We've got 20 piers here, and they're floating away, they're underwater," said Maple View Resort and Campground Owner Tony Osiecki. "I've never seen it like this in fifty years."
Osiecki blames the deluge of rain we've gotten in the past few weeks for the flooding in his resort. But he and many others on the lake also blame a dam upstream.
It's located on the southwest side of South Twin Lake in Phelps. It's owned by Wausau-based Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company, and it's meant to maintain the levels of the Twin Lakes. Peter Hansen, the company's Vice President of Operation, admits they are releasing a lot of water--because they are federally required to.
"We are releasing an amount of water that is more than the 500-year rain event," Hansen said. "That means the rain that we've had, according to our calculations, is only supposed to happen every 500 years...We're doing everything within our federal license to lower the water level on Twin."
Downstream of the dam is the Twin River, which flows into Pioneer Lake. Hansen says the company is not responsible for what happens downstream.
That leaves some people frustrated
"[People] have been calling wanting to know what we're doing about the water and what they've got to do to fix it," said Pioneer Lake Association President Terry Wright. "If it's affecting us we have to have somebody we can call to change it."
In the meantime, Osiecki deals with the flooding.
"Move everything back a bit and try to get someone to close the dam and compromise," Osiecki said.
Hansen says the company has been able to cut back on the water release in the past few days, but with more rain in the forecast, that might change. He says Pioneer Lake does not have a controlled structure to help with the lake's water levels.
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