MINOCQUA - Many of us can't wait for the chilly temperatures to give way to spring.
But people in the tourism industry say the weather brought more visitors to the Northwoods at the end of 2013.
The Lakeland Area saw a $4,500 increase in room tax collected this past October, November and December.
That's compared to the same time last year.
Hotels and other places of lodging collect room tax on all accommodations.
People in the industry believe the increase was because of the early snowfall in early December.
"We think a large part of the reason that we experienced that increase was really due to our early snow-cover and heavy snow cover that allowed the snowmobile clubs to get the trails open. Most of the trails in Oneida County opened December 15th. That was very early considering it's usually about two weeks later at least that the trails open," Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kim Baltus.
The room tax rate in Arbor Vitae, Woodruff, Lake Tomahawk and Minocqua is 4%.
Three-quarters of that goes to the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce to promote the area.
The Chamber advertises heavily in the Chicago area and southern Wisconsin.
The cold weather isn't just drawing more people to the area now.
It also has many people thinking about the spring and summer.
"I've had many, many calls from people that are making those plans and they're anxious to start thinking about summer and coming up to the lake," added Baltus.
They hope the numbers will also be up for January, February and March.
January and February are the strongest winter months for tourism.
RHINELANDER - Oneida County needs more foster care homes. Right now, there are nine licensed foster homes in the area, most of which are full according to the county's social services department.
Foster Care Coordinator Rachel Nelson says that in Oneida County there are 24 children currently living in foster homes. The department participated in a statewide foster care recruitment project last fall, and discovered just how great the need is.
RHINELANDER - A snow storm caught Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander off guard last weekend and collapsed a greenhouse. Now that spring weather is here, Hanson's is ready to move forward by making some adjustments. "We got by for 25 years doing what we were doing," said Hanson's Garden Village Co-owner Brent Hanson. Last weekend's spring snow storm set back Hanson's. "We thought we were ahead of schedule having that greenhouse nice and filled," said Hanson's Manager Beth Hanson.
"One bad storm and there you go. Things happen," said Brent. The storm collapsed a greenhouse holding thousands of plants. "For years we've gotten by with these lighter cheaper green houses," said Brent. "We'll be down a greenhouse for a little bit here," said Beth. Now Hanson's will only use sturdier and solid greenhouses so that collapses don't become a pattern.
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