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NEWS STORIES

Early snow believed to draw more tourists to NorthwoodsSubmitted: 02/28/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson

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.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 07/03/2015

- A measure passed by the state's budget committee Thursday night would limit what information lawmakers would have to disclose under open records rules. State lawmakers will essentially get to keep secret records for things like research, discussions and amendments to legislative proposals. We'll look at the issue tonight on Newswatch 12.

- In most of Wisconsin, crossing railroad tracks on foot is illegal. A proposal in the state budget would change that.

- And NASCAR returns to Newswatch 12 on Saturday. Find out more about a young local racer who loves to race in the Northwoods.

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

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MADISON - Wisconsin could force drunk drivers to pay in more money to support SafeRide Home programs in the state.

Earlier this week, we told you the state was planning to kick in less money to support county SafeRide Home programs. The program offers free taxi rides home from bars.

A proposal passed by a Capitol committee on Thursday night could help SafeRide Home.

It would add a $50 surcharge to some OWI offenses. That money would go back into SafeRide Home programs.

The proposal is part of the state budget, which has yet to become law.

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MADISON - After a five-week delay, the Legislature's budget-writing committee has given final approval to a new two-year spending plan.

The Joint Finance Committee early Friday voted 12-4 with all Republicans in support and all Democrats against the $70 billion budget.

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LA CROSSE - A Wisconsin man is being detained in a mental health facility after authorities say he told a security guard he planned to kill President Barack Obama.

A warrant was issued Thursday for 55-year-old Brian Dutcher of Tomah, the same day Obama was in La Crosse touting a proposal to make more workers eligible for overtime pay.

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RHINELANDER - People can see something odd while traveling through a certain intersection in Rhinelander. A Wisconsin Public Service truck is holding up a power pole at the intersection of Phillips and Thayer Street. A few days ago, a driver hit the power pole, but the collision wasn't hard enough to actually knock the pole down.

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NORTHWOODS - Police in Rhinelander get many calls about dogs locked in hot cars every summer. Many of the calls come from people who find the car and don't know how to help the animal.

Police say the best strategy is to read the situation. Sometimes even if the windows are rolled up, the air conditioner inside the car may be on.

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RHINELANDER - The number of fireworks-related injuries increases in the 30 days surrounding the Fourth of July.

A study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission says more than 200 people nationwide go to emergency rooms every day with these injuries around this time of year.

To prevent injuries, it's important to follow guidelines set up by the state of Wisconsin.

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