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NEWS STORIES

Early snow believed to draw more tourists to NorthwoodsSubmitted: 02/28/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson

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.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 07/07/2015

- The Wisconsin State Senate has passed two measures raising state trooper wages and compensation for state workers. The chamber will address the budget this afternoon. We'll have the latest and tell you what the budget could mean for you tonight on Newswatch 12.

- Plus, well take a look at the impact of the early crowd at the Hodag Country Festival.

We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - The Hodag Water Shows team could add some new tricks to its performances. The team is currently working on its barefoot skills with one of the world's best barefoot skiers.

"It's a little more high pace, a little more intense, but it's a lot of fun," says Ben Groen of the World Barefoot Center.

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EAGLE RIVER - If you want a new summer activity, look no further than Eagle River. A new art studio offers many different classes to kids and adults. 

"We've been here for a month, but the organization has been together for about three years," said Summer Program Director Erica Bush. "We're very excited to be in our own building finally."

Classes can cost anywhere from $20 to $50. People can sign up for classes ahead of time or just walk into the center. Program directors think it's important for kids to get involved in art early on.

"It's the creativity that the kids learn about," said Bush. "Creativity can go into all different aspects—math, science—it's everywhere. So enforcing art when they're really young will really lead to a more intelligent future for these kids."

The center offers anything from painting to pottery to cooking. Kids shared why they love to take art classes.
"You could just grab a piece of paper or something and then you can just doodle on it," said 4th grader Nicholas Fluegel. 

"It's really calming, and there's no bad way to do art," said 6th grader Grace Florence.

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SUGAR CAMP - There could soon be new regulations for unarmed combat sports. The proposed changes would impact the number of competitors here in the Northwoods.

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LINCOLN COUNTY - A Tomahawk homeowner was able to scare off burglars back in March, even after being hit in the face with the hatchet. Now, a Merrill man will need to find 25 dollars in cash to get out of jail.

28-year-old Chad Staehle was charged with four felonies for breaking into a home in Tomahawk. Police believe he and three other men broke into the home with a hatchet and crowbar.

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RHINELANDER - The Hodag Country Musical Festival kicks off on Thursday.

But there are already plenty of people camping out for the big event in the Northwoods.

Those campers benefit businesses in the Northwoods both new and old.

Johnny Nickolaou, who opened his liquor store in Sugar Camp around Thanksgiving, understands the importance of tourism.

"Huge, you know you depend on locals year round and they are great, but if it weren't for them I could never afford to be open," said Nickalaou. "But it's really nice getting this push to hopefully get us through the winter months."

Nickolaou set up a deal in preparation of Hodag Country Festival. He discounted around 10 large orders.

"15 case orders, most of them which is quite a bit I thought," said Nickalaou.


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MADISON - The state Senate has approved a raise for state troopers and a new compensation plan for other state workers but has delayed debate on the state budget.

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