RHINELANDER - A quick countdown and a quick snip of a ribbon Thursday night couldn't come soon enough for Shawn Will.
"It's just gorgeous," Will said.
The Lights of the Northwoods Vice President watched as Hodag Park lit up on a large scale with holiday lights for the first time.
"This is incredible," Will said, with tears in his eyes.
The idea came from similar -- albeit larger -- displays in La Crosse and Marshfield. Will and a committee of volunteers worked for hundreds of hours to put together their own holiday lights show at the Rhinelander waterfront park.
The group raised money to buy 50,000 lights to go on trees, then brought in community members and groups to put together the show, which Will considers a "preview" for future years. Wisconsin Public Service and Gaber Electric offered expertise and equipment to provide power throughout Hodag Park.
"This is one of those Field of Dreams moments, you know, if you build it, they will come and they are coming in droves," Will said.
A long line of cars waited at the park's entrance at 5 p.m. to drive through the show on the opening night. Committee member Erica Chariton says seeing that line made months of work and a previous weekend full of setup worth it.
"It's something that's been needed here for a long time and I am super excited for it," Chariton said.
In addition to the 50,000 lights on trees, the show features 32 individual ground displays. The show is free to enter, but food and money donations are encouraged.
"It means bringing the community together and that's the biggest thing," community member and Rondele Ranch employee Joe Boehlen said as he waited with his wife in line.
The event is drive-through only this year, but committee members are already thinking of adding a walking path next year.
"Bigger and better, more lights," Chariton said with a laugh.
For now, tens of thousands of lights and colors will work just fine for Will, but he knows a quick four-day show this year lights the way for an even bigger and bolder display in 2018.
"This is not the end, this is just the beginning to, I believe, a great tradition here," Will said.
The Lights of the Northwoods will be open each night this weekend through Sunday, Dec. 17. More information is available via the link below.
KENOSHA - A Kenosha police officer wounded in a shootout last week while investigating a vehicle break-in has been released from a hospital, Wisconsin Department of Justice officials said Friday.
A release by the department's Division of Criminal Investigation identified the officer as Justin Pruett, who has been with the Kenosha police force for two years. He suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen, the Kenosha News reported.
RHINELANDER - After over 50 years of staying open, Hodag Lanes in Rhinelander has officially closed its doors.
"I mean COVID has hit the bowling business really, really hard no matter where your bowling center is," said Sharon Cline, bowling manager at Hodag Lanes.
And with the construction on Stevens Street, the bowling alley was in a tough situation.
"The construction was also a big play for us because with all the construction out here it was tough for anybody to get through," Cline said.
A lot of memories were created in the bowling alley for various citizens in the city.
"I probably started bowling in the early '80s on the Wednesday night women's league," said Sherri Schilleman, Rhinelander resident. "We had the 9 o'clock slot I believe back then."
For her and many families in Rhinelander, bowling was very popular.
"Bowling is actually a big sport in Rhinelander," said Schilleman. "And I think in the last couple of years bowling was actually starting to make another comeback. So it's sad because people are gonna have to find something else to do."
But Cline is hoping that this won't be the end for Hodag Lanes.
"It is costly to have a bowling center but we're just hoping again that we can get up and running again," said Cline.
MADISON - The University of Wisconsin-Madison has received less than 1% of the money that Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group pledged to it two years ago amid the electronics giant's expansion plans in Wisconsin.
In August 2018, Foxconn committed $100 million to the university to help fund an engineering building and for company-related research. It gave the school $700,000 in the first year of a 5-year agreement and records show the school has received no additional money over the past year.
RHINELANDER - Traffic slowed to a stand-still on Highway 8 West out of Rhinelander but not because of any accident or construction.
NATH and The Good News Project partnered for the third year in a row to host an e-cycling fundraiser.
"There's still a huge line of cars waiting to drop off their things and that's been going on since before we opened at 8. It's been a very busy and very successful fundraiser," say Rick Covin, Board Member for the Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing.
NATH operates Frederick's Place in Rhinelander. This is their third year partnering with The Good News Project out of Wausau to host the electronics recycling event.
"We're having anyone from the area able to bring their electronics, even vacuum cleaners, stereo systems, computers, TVs, monitors, and for a small fee which is much less than you would have to pay at the dump," says Covin.
A portion of the proceeds will go toward helping fund the shelter's operation. COVID and other complications forced NATH to cancel many of their successful fundraising events, like the Harvest Hoedown normally scheduled for October.
"While our expenses have not gone down, even gone up some, our income, which is fundraising grants, and gifts, has gone down," says Covin.
If you didn't make it Friday, don't worry! You can stop by from 9 to noon Saturady.
"We'll all be here ready to take their recyclables and all that stuff that's been gathering dust in their basement, closet, and garage, gather that up, those old electronics you have to pay through the nose to get rid of at the dump, bring 'em here, and we'll give rid of em for a small fee and it'll go to a good cause," says Covin.
KINGSTON, MO - Attorneys for a Missouri man accused of killing two brothers from Wisconsin are seeking to have two charges of abandoning a corpse dismissed in the case.
Garland Nelson, of Braymer, is facing the death penalty in the deaths of 24-year-old Justin Diemel and 35-year-old Nicholas Diemel, of Shawano County, Wisconsin. They disappeared after visiting Nelson's farm in July 2019 and their burned remains were later found in Missouri and Nebraska.
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