EAGLE RIVER - Traffic around the Northwoods might be a little busy this weekend.
But that's making plenty of business owners happy, thanks to a little "white gold."
Up in the Northwoods it does more than add to the beauty of the landscape.
It's bringing in business that is much needed.
After a winter with weather ups and downs, the snow is finally here.
"It's a blessing from the sky,” said Matt Rankin, owner of Eagle River Inn and Resort.
That blessing couldn’t be timed better.
Eagle River is hosting thousands at the USA Hockey "Pond Hockey Championship"
"The energy level at the pond hockey is, I've never been to anything that's higher. It is amazing,” said Conrad Heeg from the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Nordic Ski League State Championships returns to Rhinelander.
And all this white stuff is bringing in the green.
"It's just been phenomenal, it packs the lodging. Of course people need to go out to eat and buy gas and hopefully do some shopping while they're here, so it trickles down to our whole economy,” said Heeg.
Over at the Eagle River Inn and Resort- all rooms are full.
“Business has been great, thanks to the pond hockey and snow, it’s excellent and snowmobilers, with everybody,” said Rankin.
The Rhinelander Café and Pub is already gearing up for skier traffic this weekend.
“That's a lot of families coming into the area, and my whole goal is to make sure they have a good time here in Rhinelander, and they want to come back maybe in the summer time because they've enjoyed the community,” said Rhinelander Café and Pub owner Mark Gutteter.
In the meantime, the economy is enjoying its new company.
The Pond Hockey Championship and Nordic Ski State Championships continue throughout the rest of the weekend.
Pond Hockey will bring 2 thousand players from about 30 different states to Eagle River.
The Nordic Ski Championships will host almost 400 skiers and their families.
EAGLE RIVER - Soccer players may need to wait for the snow on their fields to melt. But they know cabin fever is starting to set in, and it's the perfect time to capitalize on it.
The 7th annual Cabin Fever Indoor Soccer Tournament kicked off today at Northland Pines High School. The event raises money for the school’s boy's and girl's soccer teams.
"This was an opportunity to have an indoor soccer program so the kids can do something in the winter," says tournament director Steve Gilbert. "There was a need for a fundraiser so we thought why not have a tournament. There are other tournaments in the region, why not have one here with this tremendous facility that we have here at Pines."
Nearly 100 5th through 8th graders played in the co-ed soccer matches. Their participation makes it possible for the team to buy new equipment.
"It allows us to buy things that maybe the school can't afford to buy for them, so different types of warm-ups, equipment out on the field," says Gilbert. "One time we bought a camera for them so we could film their games. So it's going to good causes."
VILAS COUNTY - More people today use maps on their phones when traveling, but some people still like those paper maps.
The Vilas County GIS just made 15 maps of the area. They give people the option to download and print them at home. A map of Boulder Junction even won an award at the 27th annual Wisconsin land Information Association conference in Middleton.
“There was a lot of interest in creating a portable, easy to use map atlas that responders, town crew, delivery entities, could take out in the field with them and find any address point any road name any water body,” says Rebecca Nordine, Vilas County GIS Specialist. “Something that they could bring out along out in the field with them.”
The atlases will give people an easier way of looking up addresses across Vilas County.
“We do offer up online mapping and that's great but if you get into an area where there's no cell phone or no internet service you'll need something a map or paper map to fall back on,” says Nordine.
Each atlas will be updated at the beginning of the year.
To download a copy of the atlases for FREE you can visit: http://vcgis.co.vilas.wi.us/vcom/.
RHINELANDER - Wisconsin will get a new state attorney general this election year.That could mean new changes for the department.
But many of the candidates agree that more needs to be done to deal with heroin in Wisconsin.
Police and prosecutors say the drug continues to spread throughout the state. Republican candidate Brad Schimel, Waukesha County district attorney, believes heroin and opiates are one of the state’s biggest challenge.
"We're seeing more people die from accidental drug overdoses than we're seeing in car crashes," Schimel said. "That is a dangerous statistic for us to be looking at."
According to a Gannet Wisconsin Investigative study, at least 199 people died in 2012 in Wisconsin from drug overdoses.
The legislature has passed several bills this session to fight heroin and help people who are addicted to the drug.
State Rep. Jon Richards-(D) Milwaukee, is one of three Democratic candidates running for attorney general. He believes the state needs to keep going after drug traffickers.
"Local prosecutors and law enforcement are already stretched to the max in terms of their man power," Richards said. "We have to be addressing these new problems of public safety in creative ways and effective ways."
Democratic candidates Susan Happ and Ismael Ozanne were not available before running this story.
Richards was touring the Northwoods Friday talking to media and district attorneys in the area.
The Democratic primary is set for August 12th. Election day is Nov. 4, 2014.
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