ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Railroads give businesses a chance to move loads of material for a low cost. Loggers could use rail as an alternative to trucking material, but many businesses don't get that opportunity in the Northwoods anymore.
Canadian National bought rail in the Northwoods about a decade ago. They have cut back service drastically since then.
Some counties haven't seen train travel in years, which hurts business. Now, those businesses want to reestablish rail service.
In response, a group of counties in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan formed the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission.
Their goal is to bring back efficient rail to their counties. The group has been working with Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) officials, like Dennis Leong, since forming the group in 2012.
Leong believes there is an opportunity to bring back rail to the region based off of the feedback from businesses and local governments.
"We did a survey of businesses in the Northwoods area and found potentially quite a few business interests in rail," Leong said. "They're meeting with CN (Canadian National) and having discussions, so hopefully maybe certain sections can be brought back to service."
Leong wants to help expand rail in the north, but private companies might only re-establish rail if they think they can make money on it.
"Part of the challenge is that you have to have the volume in which the railroads want to make sure they have an operating system to put back in service," Leong said.
Leaders at the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission are trying to win a multimillion dollar federal grant, TIGER, from the U.S. Department of Transportation to get more log cars for rail in the Northwoods. They'll host their monthly meeting Friday at 10 a.m. at the Oneida County Courthouse.
Wisconsin has 13 freight railroads using a system of more than 33 hundred mile of rail, according to WisDOT.
Yesterday two people safely escaped a fire that badly damaged a house in Sugar Camp. It turned out that a cat could have been a victim, but the cat was rescued by a firefighter. We'll bring you details and show you the cat that was slightly injured and is recovering.
We'll tell you about a Plaza that might be built in Boulder Junction.
And you'll hear from the Rhinelander city clerk on preparations for early voting which begins this Friday.
We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.
RHINELANDER - People in Rhinelander will be able to cast their November election ballots starting on Friday. It's the earliest people in Wisconsin have ever been able to vote.
The absentee ballots are stacked and ready for Friday at the Rhinelander City Clerk's office. To make the early voting process go as smoothly as possible, you will need to come prepared.
"When you come in make sure that you're registered. That is important. Make sure you're registered in the city if you're coming into us," said Clerk Valerie Foley.
Registering is easy; all you need is a photo ID and proof of residence. The registration form takes a couple of minutes, and then you will be able to fill out an election ballot.
"I think it is going to be a very busy day. I think people are pretty interested in the issues. And I think a lot of them would like to get and make sure they can vote if they're not certain they're going to make it to the polls in November or not," said Foley.
The clerk's office has already sent out about 200 ballots to people who have requested them.
Now, it is preparing for the early voter in-person rush.
If you are unsure whether you are registered to vote or where to go for early voting, the clerk's office suggests voters visit myvote.wi.gov for more information.
TOWN OF LITTLE RICE - Dennis Schoeneck's pickup truck sloshes through muddy logging roads these days. But he'd prefer it if a much larger truck could even make it down the path.
"Heck, I think you could spit and make mud here," the Enterprise Forest Products owner said Tuesday morning.
Foot-deep ruts make up most of the logging road leading back to 23 acres of private land the long-time logger harvests in the western Oneida County town of Little Rice. Schoeneck started logging professionally in 1979 and says 2016 has been "exceptionally wet" compared to any other year.
"The old adage, make hay while the sun shines, that's not just for farmers," Schoeneck said. "That's for us too."
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