RHINELANDER - We can often judge how the economy is doing, by the strength of the housing market.
Things have been rough since the housing bubble burst in 2007.
Buyers and sellers are just starting to feel good again.
But how long will that feeling last?
Dave Olson's house has been for sale for a year.
He hasn't hired a broker.
But he thinks this is the summer to sell.
"You know that there are people out there buying homes, so there are more people looking than maybe what there was a year ago," Olson said.
That's optimism that homeowners in the Northwoods haven't felt lately.
Kim Brixius has been selling homes for 16 years.
This winter was her best ever.
She thinks that's because a historic opportunity is almost closed for good.
"The interest rates and the historically low values," Brixius said. "I think it's driving people to realize if they wait much longer, they're gonna miss out."
Interest rates are historically low because the Federal Reserve is buying bonds to keep them there.
But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says if the economy continues to improve, they will slowly step back.
"If the incoming data supports the view that the economy is able to sustain a reasonable cruising speed we will ease the pressure on the accelerator by gradually reducing the pace of purchases,"Bernanke said.
Brixius thinks that would bring Wisconsin home sales to a screeching halt.
"All that could put the brakes on the buyer situation, so then sellers may be waiting a lot longer than they thought,"Brixius said.
Regardless, Olson is staying positive.
"I'm very optimistic," Olson said. "I'm thinking one that the market should be getting better; it has to be getting better."
And hopefully the Northwoods won't have to experience another housing burst anytime soon.
WOODRUFF - The amount of blood donations usually drops during the summer, but this summer has been particularly challenging in northern Wisconsin.
"Over the course of the summer, our blood supply has declined considerably. It has dropped 35 percent over the course of the summer, and it is approaching dangerously low levels," said Community Blood Center Donor Services Vice President Kristine Belanger.
MERCER - This year, almost 40 northern Wisconsin communities formally expressed interest in becoming the new home of the DNR's state forestry headquarters. But there's a chance the headquarters stay right where they are--in Madison.
WAUSAU - After struggling for a few years, Wausau's mayor hopes new management and building changes will revitalize the Wausau Center Mall.
On Tuesday, Mayor Robert Mielke announced in a press conference that Mid America Asset Management will take over management of the mall. Mielke says Mid America will focus on new marketing, maintenance, and leasing new tenants.
RHINELANDER - Rhinelander's Highway 8 is finally getting its long-awaited renovation.
Beginning this week, construction will begin along two busy intersections on Rhinelander's busy bypass.
Michael Wendt, the Department of Transportation project development supervisor said, "This is probably something we should have done a little while ago, but it takes some time to get these projects going.
Construction at Highway G and 17 South started this week, and crews will lay new surface and install new stoplight sensors.
MINOCQUA - Three local cyclists planned to bike in the Ride Across Wisconsin event just for fun this year, but a few days before the ride, a good friend of theirs became unexplainably sick. In that moment, the purpose of their ride changed.
"This is nothing. This is a day. This is an hour, a minute that I can keep going," said cyclist Connie Trapp.
For Trapp, riding 178 miles was a small hurdle compared to the struggle of a close friend.
"Just having somebody to ride it for and be encouraged that you're doing it for someone else besides yourself really helped," said Trapp.
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