EAGLE RIVER - The population of Eagle River is just shy of 1400. But last weekend, over 2400 pond hockey players, and fans were in town. The annual Pond Hockey National Championships were a Big hit on a little lake.
The first year of the Pond Hockey Championships featured 42 teams - that was 8 years ago. This year it was 346 teams, 18 divisions, playing 612 games.
Add to that 28 rinks, and 3 days of action. The result - another successful weekend for everyone involved.
"I'm here playing with my nephew and also seeing former high school opponents," says Tom Kuklinski - a member "We're with Mugsy" out of Eagle River.
Scott Aldrich is the Manager of adult hockey for USA Hockey. "To see hockey played in its purest form, its great to see," adds Aldrich.
With temps at times reaching near 30s a few weak spots formed on the ice. But extra work by the Eagle River Fire Department helped keep ice conditions safe and ready for play.
"Every night we have to flood the rinks to fill in the cracks caused by playing games," says Pat Weber - Cheif of the Eagle River Fire Department. He also had a team called "Frozen Seven" which has played every year since the tourney began.
Players from 27 States as well as Canada played on Dollar Lake. It was a chance to relive childhood memories.
Visting fans and Northwoods folks all gathered to see how this special weekend has grown.
The Chamber of Commerece estimates lodging for the players brought in over $1-million dollars into the Eagle River economy.
RHINELANDER - Many older people in the Northwoods still love their paper-and-print books. The task of choosing between today's e-readers and tablets can seem daunting. But e-readers and tablets are creeping in as popular options too.
The Rhinelander Library held a class today to teach people about the different options for going mobile. Educating older people is especially helpful.
“If you're just interested in books people usually want to have an e-reader,” says Erica Brewster, Family Living Agent with Oneida County UW Extension. “If you're interested in doing a lot more maybe you want to watch Netflix movies or you want to be on the internet than you want to look at a tablet.”
Some of the popular tablets include the iPad and the Microsoft Surface. People interested in an e-reader might consider the Kindle or the Nook.
“We've gone from computers being something we have on a desk and we work with, to taking it for granted that we have a cell phone, we have a tablet, something that travels with us,” says Brewster. “So the mobile technology is the newest and greatest breaking trend really that we have is being able to carry our technology with us.”
E-readers are typically cheaper than tablets which can cost a few hundred dollars.
RHINELANDER - “This time of year is just a little different because the pressure is more,” says Anthony Turek, Rhinelander Postmaster. “Christmas is coming we’re a little over 2 weeks away I think right around two weeks and this is it.”
Its crunch time at the Post Office. With Christmas fast approaching it’s important to keep a few things in mind when sending packages this holiday season.
“You’re going to want to take your packages and gently shake them a little, just to make sure that you are comfortable that they’re packaged tightly and securely so that nothing happens to them,” says Turek.
First don’t be a procrastinator! It’s never too early to start sending out your packages.
Also remember to write neatly. Make sure and double check the shipping address and return address is correct.
Lastly you’re going to want to keep a few dates in mind. If you want your mail to be delivered by Christmas Eve you need to send it out by December 20th unless you want to pay more for priority mail.
“So those are just a couple things that people want to do to make it so that the packages that they send here end up where they’re supposed to go on time and safely,” says Turek.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander employee union believes the city illegally rejected their collective bargaining agreement,now they’re suing the city.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1226 represents City of Rhinelander workers from public works, wastewater, parks, water and golf course employees. They filed suit against the city on Dec. 4, 2013.
The union says they reached a tentative agreement for a new collective bargaining agreement in early December 2012. But according court documents, the union claims the city council illegally rejected the agreement and didn’t tell the union about it.
Aaron Halstead, from Madison-based firm Hawks Quindel, S.C., has been a labor lawyer for more than 20 years and says he has never seen a municipality do something like this before.
"I've never had any municipality do what the city did here which is to reject an agreement with the union, despite the fact that they had an agreement on all of the terms," Halstead said.
The union believes the city is violating Wisconsin Municipal Employment Relations Act. In 2012, city workers asked for a one percent wage increase starting January 1,2013.
Halstead said the city and union agreed to that increase in their tentative agreement. According to the group's complaint, the city council rejected the tentative collective bargaining agreement, but passed the one percent wage increase as a resolution.
But the union claims the collective bargaining agreement wasn’t renewed. Instead the group says the city passed a resolution putting the terms into a personnel manual.
Rhinelander city council met Monday night to discuss how to move forward once the city is formally served with lawsuit.
"I think it's unfortunate. We have a good relationship with the union, and a good relationship with the employees," said Blaine Oborn, Rhinelander city administrator. "We have a lot of outstanding employees. So unfortunately, with all this ambiguity [concerning] Acts 10 and 32, I think that this kind of stuff unfortunately [happens]."
The complaint also claims that the city reduced the wages of newly hired people by $4 an hour. They say this violates the terms of the parties' tentative agreement. Halstead says they still haven't received an explanation.
"The city contends that it doesn't have to, but it has never provided a satisfactory answer as to what it is that is objectionable about the agreement that was reached," Halstead said.
Monday nights' meeting was a closed session.
The city will have three weeks to respond to the complaint.
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