NORTHWOODS - You may notice more people on the roads, lakes, at restaurants, and in stores the next few weekends. Many overnight camps in the Northwoods host a visiting weekend for their campers' families, and that means big money for local businesses.
"We're talking thousands of parents invading Minocqua, and Rhinelander and Eagle River throughout the weekend," said Camp Kawaga Director Matt Abrams.
There are more than 20 overnight camps in Vilas and Oneida Counties, and at least half host a visiting weekend. That's when parents come up to visit their kids spending the summer at an overnight camp. Though they visit camp, parents and campers spend a lot of time in the community.
"Really, most of the time they're out," added Abrams. "They're going to dinner. They're going go-carting."
"Camp weekend really is a special weekend. We can count on the store being packed to the walls with people. And they're a very good crowd," said Michael Johnson, manager of Dan's Minocqua Fudge.
The store has been welcoming campers and their families for 47 years.
"Every year we have people that stop in here at the store and will tell us a nice story of how they came here when they were a camp kid or when they came here with their grandparents and now they're bringing their grandchildren here," Johnson added.
Like Dan's Minocqua Fudge, The White Stag Inn in Sugar Camp also sees a larger crowd on visiting weekend. The owners say they'll serve more than 500 people in just a five hour period. It's a popular restaurant among visiting families and camp alumni.
"We are seeing multi-generations. So my brothers and I are now the third generation here at the White Stag and we're seeing the third and fourth generation of campers. So it's really kind of a unique experience to have grown up not only with the parents, but now having their kids and grandkids here," said White Stag Inn co-owner Anissa Widule.
Restaurants and shops aren't the only businesses that get a boost from visiting weekend.
"These parents are booking the hotels a year ahead because they know they're coming the next year so this is a consistent boon for the Minocqua area," Abrams said.
But the business boom doesn't necessarily end on Sunday.
"We've had families that have ended up buying second homes up here," Abrams added. "The other thing that a lot of them do is they rent homes."
RHINELANDER - A large open lot on Rhinelander's east side could soon fill in with a chain restaurant.
Cory Moritz-Hoffmann and her husband hope to build a Pizza Ranch next to Kwik Trip on Eisenhower Parkway. The pair of former Pine Lake firefighters got the idea about six years ago when they first went to a Pizza Ranch in Iowa.
They considered pursing a franchise then, but it was more than they could afford at the time. About two years ago, the Hoffmanns contacted an investor and saw an opportunity to turn their dream into a reality.
RHINELANDER - The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission will get its long-awaited federal funding installment by October 4.
The timing means no Northwoods Transit Connections drivers will have to voluntarily furlough their pay, but the requirement of 24-hour advance notice for rides will stay in place.
Transit Commission Chair Erv Teichmiller learned the news over the weekend.
The commission is waiting on an expected payment of $300,000 from the federal government. In 2016, that money came in early September. As of last Friday, the commission wasn't expecting the payment until as late as November.
MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker has selected a former legislator to run the state Department of Natural Resources.
Walker's office announced Monday that he has chosen former Republican state Rep. Dan Meyer to serve as DNR secretary. He replaces Cathy Stepp, who resigned in August to take a position in President Donald Trump's administration.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander factory that makes smoke flavoring caught fire early Monday morning.
Shortly before 6:00 a.m., Rhinelander, Crescent and Newbold Fire Departments responded to a fire at Red Arrow Products on Rhinelander's west side.
An employee says there were about eight workers inside at the time.
No one was injured.
"Flames were coming out of a conveyor area as high as the roof. We made an interior attack and knocked that flame down. Came in from the other side of the partition wall, then made another interior attack and knocked that down," says Chief Terry Williams.
As of 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, firefighters were still working to make sure the flames were out.
HARSHAW - Oneida County sheriff's deputies found three runaway sisters, ages 14, 14, and 12, in the woods in Harshaw just after 1 p.m. on Monday.
The sisters had been reported missing by their parents Monday morning. The parents had gone to wake the girls up for school, but instead found a note saying they had gone on an "adventure."
The missing girls triggered a search from the Oneida County Sheriff's Office Special Response Unit, Newbold Fire Department Search and Rescue, Minocqua Fire Department, Lake Tomahawk Fire Department, and Little Rice Fire Department.
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