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Iron mine could help rail service push in NorthwoodsSubmitted: 11/22/2013
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Iron mine could help rail service push in Northwoods
RHINELANDER - A group representing more than a dozen northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan counties would love to see increased rail service in their areas.

The Northwoods Rail Transit Commission believes an iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills would dramatically help their efforts.

The Commission formed last year to push for better freight rail service in the North.

Service by rail companies has slowed or stopped in many areas of the Northwoods.

Rail companies often say there's not enough freight to make service profitable for them.

An operating iron ore mine would increase freight traffic heavily.

"You can see what happened with frac sand mining in the Chippewa (Falls) area. If that mine becomes operational and starts shipping ore, a lot of that could come east toward the port in Escanaba. That will help give reason and volume to reopen that Highway 8 line that we're talking about," says Northwoods Rail Transit Commission Chair Wendy Gehlhoff at a meeting of the Commission Friday in Rhinelander.

Most of the rail line that hugs Highway 8 from Ladysmith to Pembine currently sits unused.

The Canadian National railway shut down service, saying it wasn't profitable.

The director of Michigan Tech University's Rail Transportation Program addressed the Commission Friday.

He stressed that for a rail company to operate, it needs to see a way to make money on carrying freight in a certain area.

"If we have high volumes, low value, long distance - if you don't look at rail or intermodal, you're absolutely nuts. It has to be in the equation, or you're not going to be able to compete with the other regions of this nation or other nations," said Dr. Pasi Lautala.

The Commission's next task is to get better information from companies on how they would use rail service, if it was available.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 11/17/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll bring you the latest on a shooting that took place on West Mohawk Drive in Tomahawk Thursday evening. Police found and arrested the suspect near Eau Claire.

We talk to a registered sanitarian from the Vilas County Health Department about how to avoid getting sick from your Thanksgiving turkey.

And tonight on Friday Nights Blitz the Blitz team announces the winners of this year's Fall Awards in local high school sports.

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

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ANTIGO - Blaze orange and camouflage swarmed the front of Mills Fleet Farm in Antigo this morning.

People started lining up for Orange Friday 2017 around 4 a.m. for free hats and gift scratch offs!

More than 500 people filed in as the doors opened at 6 a.m.

The line didn't slow down for 15 minutes after that.

Many customers came to grab last-minute hunting gear including hunting licenses.

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TOMAHAWK - The rain didn't stop a big crowd from going to an event that's become tradition.
The Tomahawk Chamber of Commerce hosted its 52nd Venison Feed.

 It kicks off the gun deer hunting season which starts tomorrow. 
 
You'll find grill master Gregg Albert at the same spot this year as he has for decades.

"From what we know it's one of the last in the country that even exist.

If I had to say one word it would be tradition," said Albert. 

The Tomahawk Chamber of Commerce's 52nd Venison Feed brought out some old timers and some newbies to kick off the start of the deer hunting season. 

Albert's grilled for about 33 years. 

I found Rhinelander's Steve Norman's on his sixth free venison burger. 

"Sweet it's good. I'm on my last one," said Norman.

He's not a hunter.

"I just fish like heck," said Norman. 

However, Norman still gets a lot out of the celebration. 

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SUGAR CAMP - Students at Sugar Camp Elementary School invited their grandparents to join them at school on Friday. Grandparents toured classrooms, heard poems and stories, and ate lunch with family.

Jenna Erikson is a sixth grader at Sugar Camp. Her grandparents drive two hours from Colby every year to experience Grandparents Day with her.

"We read our speeches, then I showed my grandparents around the room a little bit," Erikson said. "It's really fun, and it's just a good time."

More than 130 grandparents visited their grandchildren at school. Sugar Camp has been hosting the event for decades.

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EAGLE RIVER - Americans eat more than 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. That much thawing, handling, and cooking of turkeys means people can make mistakes.

The Vilas County Public Health Department wants to help people avoid exposing themselves to dangerous bacteria. It says frozen turkeys should always be thawed in the refrigerator or under running water.

"You don't want to set them out on your countertop for any amount of time to thaw them because that's when they're going to be in the 'danger zone.' The 'danger zone' is between 40 and 140 [degrees Fahrenheit], and that's when pathogens can grow," said Vilas County Registered Sanitarian Amy Springer.

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ROSENDALE, WI - An explosion and fire at a cheese plant in Fond du Lac County sent one person to the hospital.

The sheriff's office says 36-year-old Travis Klotzbach, of Brandon, was using a cutting torch on an empty 55-gallon barrel in the auto shop at Knaus Cheese near Rosendale when the explosion happened just after 7 a.m. Friday.

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RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Salvation Army hopes to raise $40,000 in its bell ringing campaign again this year. It reached that goal during the holidays a year ago.

Volunteers kicked off the bell ringing drive at Trig's and Shopko on Friday. Eighty-six percent of money raised stays in the Rhinelander area to help families in emergencies.

"We're very excited that we're keeping our goal at 40 (thousand dollars) this year, and we're hoping that people are continuing to be generous in helping us reach that goal," Rhinelander Salvation Army Kettle Coordinator Kim Swisher said. "People are friendly, they're excited, they're like, 'Oh, it's bell ringing time!' [That] always means the holidays. We're excited about that."

You'll see volunteers at Trig's and Shopko through the holidays. Bell ringing starts at Walmart next week.

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