Outdoor recreation draws people to Ironwood areaSubmitted: 01/26/2016
Katie Thoresen
Katie Thoresen
Senior Producer

Outdoor recreation draws people to Ironwood area
IRONWOOD - Every Northwoods community faces a similar economic issue: keeping young people around.
But it seems that Ironwood is seeing some success with the challenge.

"I came here for the snow. That's the long and the short of it," said Jonathon Rulseh, who moved to Ironwood when he was 28.

With hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, skiing, four-wheeling, and snowmobiling, the Ironwood area attracts a lot of outdoor enthusiasts year-round.

"Skiers started buying second homes so that they could spend more time here and then skiers like us actually relocating," said Ironwood resident Jackie Powers. "There is a trend, I think. I could name off probably a dozen ski friends who now live here." 

It's outdoor recreation opportunities, including access to great cross country ski trails, that draws people to the Ironwood area, but it's features like the housing market and community that keep people here. And those people tend to be younger.

Community Resource Development Educator Will Andresen with the Iron County UW-Extension office works to make the county more appealing to young people.

"In the end without new young people coming in we're not going to be able to sustain our economy," said Andresen. "We're not going be able to support our schools. Our tax base is going to fall apart." 

Many Northwoods cities struggle with this problem, but Andresen is trying a different approach. 

"Historically, most of us focus on job creation, business development, workforce development, and I do all that," he said. "But the economy is changing. Now it's more about creating that kind of place where people want to live."

For Andresen, that project involves creating social networks that allow young people to connect with one another and building on what people already come here for.

"We're developing a regional trail that will connect all the communities in the Northwoods, northern Iron County and Gogebic County, and we have already $4 million invested in that," said Andresen.

The area's affordability also helps.

"We came up for the winter. Just spent the winter, got season passes at the local ski areas and then before the winter was over bought a house, because they're cheap," said Tom Bergman, who moved to the area when he was 29.

The housing situation is definitely a buyers' market.

"There's a lot of older houses, but they have character. You know, really nice character, and you can find those houses in the $40, $50, $60 thousand price range. And with the interest rates with the way they are now, it's cheaper than rent," said Remax Action North broker and owner Dean Lantta.
There's also a strong sense of community.

"I think that's also part of the thing that's kept me here is not only the ability to have a positive impact on a small community, 'cause that's kind of what I do for work, but also that the people are super open and friendly," said Bergman. "I mean, even from day one, people basically invite you into their home." 

It's also a community that hopes younger generations will start calling home. 

For more information on Andresen's work with the UW-Extension, click on the link below.

Related Weblinks:
UW-Extension Next Generation

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TOMAHAWK - Two best friends turned into business partners about a year ago.

Bill Eastwood and Blake McMahon own Outboards Bar and Grill in Tomahawk.

The duo's combined restaurant and business experience helped them hit the ground running.

Fish quality comes first at Outboards.

"Friday night is the night that pretty much everyone goes out to eat. So if you don't have a good fish fry, people around here start talking!" say Eastwood.

For people with food intolerance, eating a fish fry platter can be nearly impossible.

So, Outboards offers alternatives like gluten-free beer-battered fish.

"We kind of put a twist on things and do it our own way. You can get fries, but you can get quinoa or a fresh vegetable," says McMahon.

When summertime comes, Outboards' patio overlooks the ski show and music on the river.

Outboards serves fish starting at 11 a.m.

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RHINELANDER - An Oneida County judge set a trial date for a Rhinelander woman charged in the death of her toddler stepson.
Ellen Tran's trial is expected to start with jury selection on October 19.

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PORTAGE COUNTY - Portage County will hold an information meeting to share information about a sexually violent offender that will soon be released.

Gregory Loomis, 43, sexually assaulted two children in 1988 and 1992.

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KIEL - Police say a report of gunshots at a high school in the eastern Wisconsin community of Kiel (KEEL) turned out to be false and that all students and staff are safe.

Authorities say a staff member of Kiel High School reported hearing gunshots outside the building shortly before 7 a.m. Friday, prompting a heavy law enforcement response.

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BARRON COUNTY - The discovery of skeletal remains in northwest Wisconsin turns into a homicide investigation.

Forensic analysis revealed the man had been shot in the head.

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ARBOR VITAE - An Arbor Vitae restaurant may be relatively new to the area, but regulars quickly started packing the place every Friday for fish fry.

Ron and Marlena Schisel opened Outback 51 about a year ago.

They say it was tough being the "newbies" at first, but their fish fry got people in the door from the start.

Bluegill is the favorite plate at this fish fry.

" Surprisingly we sell more bluegill more than any other fish. It is a Northwood's native fish, people want to see if it takes the fish that they have when they clean fish," says Ron.

Outback 51 serves fish fry Fridays starting at 11 a.m.

Click link below for more info.

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EAGLE RIVER - Once a week you probably leave a recycling bin at the end of your driveway. But what actually happens to that paper, cardboard, and bottles after a truck picks it up? 

Eagle Waste and Recycling in Eagle River gets recyclables from all over the northern half of Wisconsin and even the U.P. 

"As far north as Marquette, Michigan, as far east as Menominee, Michigan, from Chippewa Falls Wisconsin to the west and Wausau to the south," said Eagle Waste and Recycling President Alan Albee.

The facility opened in 2012 and has been growing ever since. 

Albee showed us how recyclables are sorted and packed to be shipped off and made into new products.
Recyclables are unloaded from a truck.

Then they are loaded into basin called a metering drum and then unloaded onto a conveyor belt. 

Workers start pre-sorting.

"Our pre-sort allows us to clean the material up prior to going into our main sorting building," said Albee. 

Then the belt runs into another building where it is sorted further. 

"And then the first thing that we pull out is glass," said Albee. 

Big cardboard items are sorted out through a filter. Then paper is separated from plastic and metals. 

"Metal is sorted by use of a magnet; aluminum is sorted automatically by the use of an eddy current," said Albee. 

Workers separate the different kinds of plastic, then items drop into a baler and are made into bricks. 

"The finished products are sent all over the country depending on what the material is. Paper and cardboard are shipped locally to paper mills in Wisconsin Rapids or over by Green Bay," said Albee. 

It's the only facility of its kind in the Northwoods, and one of the only ones in Wisconsin. 

Right now Eagle Waste and Recycling has two balers. They will be getting a third one this summer to pack cardboard.

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