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 - Do you find yourself looking for new places to eat out? Well, Tula's Cafe recently added a brand new location in the Northwoods. We found out what makes them unique, in our latest helping of 'Morning Meals with Marisa.'
Tula's recently reopened in Rhinelander. This is their second location and the manager told us so far, so good.
Tula's manager Lana Knack explains, "They said it's great to have a new restaurant choice to go to up in the Northwoods. Tula's is very successful in Minocqua, so we model everything that they do and it's worked very well."
They have an extensive menu with items like pigs in a blanket, cinnamon rolls and much more.
"We've got a lot of really unique breakfast items. Especially featuring the Trigs Smokehouse. Our kielbasa omelettes have gone very well. We also have a wonderful eggs benedict," adds Knack.
And of course you're going to need something to wash it all down.
Knack says, "We have liquor service to enjoy a cocktail with any of your meals starting as early as 6 a.m. for those people that are shift workers."
The decor fits right in to the Northwoods and makes for a cozy dining experience.
"It's so unique with so many booths that people come in and sit for quite a while. So it's very comfortable for them," explains Knack.
Tula's grand opening runs through Labor Day and they'll have five dollar deals all throughout. If you want to check out Tula's, they open at 6 a.m., seven days a week.
Wisconsin water supplies deal with two contaminants during 2013
WISCONSIN - Wisconsin keeps high standards for clean drinking water. On a yearly basis, they do a good job at meeting that standard, but during 2013, more water supplies were found with one of two contaminants.
One contaminant, nitrate was found in more than double the amount of water supplies during the year compared to 2012. The 56 public water supplies found with high nitrate levels is a small number out of the thousands of water supplies in the state, but it can still be a big problem.
STEVENS POINT - The Spudmobile is Wisconsin's newest addition in potato education.
The Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association unveiled the Spudmobile at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in Stevens Point last week.
"It was a big project, 4 years of planning and development. It cost a lot of money and we don't want it to sit parked. We want to get it out there and get people touring through it and seeing it on the road," said Tamas Houlihan.
MANITOWISH WATERS - Cranberry growers in Wisconsin work hard every year to produce the fruit. But they may not be able to harvest as many berries this season.
Cranberry growers don't expect an overly large crop this year. This comes after several years of great harvests in the state.
The numbers might not be as high, but farmers say they won't be disappointed with this year's cranberry results.
"Overall I think it will be a decent crop," says Bob Winter, owner and manager of Vilas Cranberry Company. "There's been some hail in the southern part of the state and even in western Wisconsin, so that takes its toll, but cumulatively how much that really is remains to be seen. You never know until you get it all in the barn at the end of October."
TOMAHAWK - Treehaven in Tomahawk kicked off its first ever School Garden Symposium Tuesday.
Educators from schools all around the state were invited to attend. It's an opportunity for them to come and learn how to incorporate healthier habits into their schools.
"Some of them are new to gardening completely," said Jasmyn Schmidt, a presenter at the symposium. "So they're learning how to start a garden, what you have to do for a garden, and what supplies are needed to start a garden. Some of them are a year or two into their gardens and are looking to learn maintenance or funding strategies to keep those gardens going."
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