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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

RHINELANDER - People in Rhinelander will be able to cast their November election ballots starting on Friday.
It's the earliest people in Wisconsin have ever been able to vote.

The absentee ballots are stacked and ready for Friday at the Rhinelander City Clerk's office.
To make the early voting process go as smoothly as possible, you will need to come prepared.

"When you come in make sure that you're registered. That is important. Make sure you're registered in the city if you're coming into us," said Clerk Valerie Foley.

Registering is easy; all you need is a photo ID and proof of residence.
The registration form takes a couple of minutes, and then you will be able to fill out an election ballot.

"I think it is going to be a very busy day. I think people are pretty interested in the issues. And I think a lot of them would like to get and make sure they can vote if they're not certain they're going to make it to the polls in November or not," said Foley.

The clerk's office has already sent out about 200 ballots to people who have requested them.

Now, it is preparing for the early voter in-person rush.

If you are unsure whether you are registered to vote or where to go for early voting, the clerk's office suggests voters visit myvote.wi.gov for more information.



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RHINELADER - Nicolet College selected two students to represent the technical college this school year as student ambassadors.

Faculty members first nominated the students, then they interviewed for the positions.

District Student Ambassador, Samantha Zalewski, from Sayner, says this is an opportunity for her to give back to the college.

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EAGLE RIVER - The streets in Eagle River got an extra wash on Tuesday and not just from the rain.

The Light and Water Utility spent most of the day flushing fire hydrants.

The city flushes the hydrants twice a year, once in the spring and fall.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 09/27/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

Yesterday two people safely escaped a fire that badly damaged a house in Sugar Camp. It turned out that a cat could have been a victim, but the cat was rescued by a firefighter. We'll bring you details and show you the cat that was slightly injured and is recovering.

We'll tell you about a Plaza that might be built in Boulder Junction.

And you'll hear from the Rhinelander city clerk on preparations for early voting which begins this Friday.

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

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MADISON - UW Credit Union has expanded its membership eligibility to include all current and former college students, a move Gov. Scott Walker is touting as way to help countless students refinance their loans.

The governor and credit union officials announced the expansion at a news conference on Tuesday.

Until now the credit union has served only current and past University of Wisconsin System and Madison Area Technical College students. It offers interest rates ranging from 2.2 percent to 6.8 percent.

Walker, a Republican, called the expansion another step in help students and alumni.

Scot Ross, executive director of liberal group One Wisconsin Now, told reporters after the news conference that the expansion likely won't help anyone because students and recent graduates typically lack collateral and a credit history.

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MADISON - The heavy rains that have caused flooding and landslides in parts of Wisconsin have also saturated the soil at record levels around the state.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that surplus moisture was found in 40 percent of the state's topsoil last week and 35 percent of its subsoil. Those are the highest levels for September and could raise the risk of future flooding.

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WASHINGTON - The Senate has blocked a spending bill needed to keep the government open beyond Friday's midnight deadline.

Most Democrats and at least 10 Republicans voted to block the bill, which also funds the fight against the Zika virus. Democrats are demanding money to help Flint, Michigan, address its lead-tainted water crisis.

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