Expera dedicates new coated products manufacturing line in RhinelanderSubmitted: 11/16/2017
Story By Lane Kimble

Expera dedicates new coated products manufacturing line in Rhinelander
RHINELANDER - Applause echoed from the rafters of a taller, much fuller building on Kemp Street in Rhinelander Thursday morning.  Expera Specialty Solutions dedicated its new, huge paper products coater, which was installed over the last year.

"It's just a beautiful project," Expera President and CEO Russ Wanke said.  "[There are] quite a few generations that have come through the [Rhinelander] plant and an investment like this will have many more generations [to follow.]"

The machine makes a paper layer that protects materials for airplane wing assembly in planes like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Expera has two similar coaters in its mill across town, but Wanke says without adding this third line, they risked losing clients. Expera's plant is one of just a few in the world that can make the paper products.

"Tremendous support and that allowed us to keep this aggressive project on timeline," Wanke said.

That support came in the form of a $15 million loan from Oneida County, which was approved 17 to 1 in September 2016. It's an investment County Board Chairman Dave Hintz saw as having a lot of positives, including the hiring of 20 new workers.  About 500 people work for Expera in Rhinelander.  The company estimates it has a direct economic impact of $200 million.

"Bringing jobs, improving the economy, and making use of a building that was literally a dinosaur," Hintz said.

Transforming the nearly 100-year-old former Printpack building -- which sat empty for several years after that company built a new facility on Highway 17 in 2014 -- required raising the roof, ordering a machine in South Korea, and reassembling it in Rhinelander.

Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch told the crowd on Thursday that she loves Expera. Kleefisch says Expera's willingness to adapt to a changing paper industry puts the company now on the "cutting edge."

"Those who have changed with people's needs are the ones who have succeeded in not just staying alive, but actually thriving," Kleefisch said. "That's what we see Expera doing today."

Expera plans to pay back its loan over the next six years, but it might not be done expanding. Wanke says the building has space to add another coating line in the Kemp Street building, which could happen in two years.

"Wisconsin's a manufacturing state, so they should be very proud that that manufacturing legacy continues, not only in the state of Wisconsin, but particularly here in Rhinelander," Wanke said.

The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands provided the money for Oneida County's loan to Expera. The interest Expera pays on the loan will go from the BCPL into school libraries around the state.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


OSHKOSH, WIS. (AP) - A Wisconsin teenager who was shot and wounded when he stabbed a school resource officer has been ordered to stand trial.

Grant Fuhrman, 17, is charged as an adult with attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the Dec. 3 attack at Oshkosh West High School.

Fuhrman is accused of stabbing Mike Wissink multiple times with a barbecue fork. Court documents say the officer was unable to reach his stun gun so he shot Fuhrman twice. Neither was seriously injured.

The school was evacuated and classes were cancelled for two days.

+ Read More

MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced Sunday he wants state lawmakers to pass a package of bills aimed at curbing youth vaping and educating the public about vaping's potential dangers.

The bills Evers, a Democrat, is requesting would ban vaping and vapor products on K-12 campuses and expand the definition of public health emergencies. Another bill would fund a public health campaign to address youth vaping in the state and a fourth proposal would expand the enforcement capacity of the Departments of Revenue and Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to prevent vaping products from being sold to minors.

The governor's office outlined his proposals in a press release Sunday.

"As a parent, grandparent, and lifelong educator, I am deeply concerned about the health and well-being of our kids," Evers said in a statement. "Vaping is a serious public health epidemic and it is time to take action."

The governor's office said vaping products pose serious health risks to young users because the nicotine contained in e-cigarettes can harm parts of the brain that control attention and learning.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The League of Women Voters of the Northwoods held a session on how to vote in Wisconsin at ArtStart earlier this evening.

They highlighted the voting process including what forms of ID are required.

Co-chair of the group, Debra Durchslag said she was happy after Sunday's turnout.

"I was very pleased to see a new group of interested Oneida county residents who are very much interested to register unregistered voters," said Durchslag

The League is a non-partisan organization devoted to educating the public about local and national politics.

+ Read More

IRON COUNTY - One person died in a snowmobiling incident in Iron County early Sunday morning. The victim was identified as a 47-year-old female.

According to a press release by the Iron County Sheriff's Department, dispatch received a call at 1:52 a.m. reporting a snowmobile crashed on Trail 17 just outside Hurley and the operator was unresponsive.

First responders arrived at 2:04 a.m. and began taking life saving measures. The driver was then transported by rescue sled to Beacon ambulance and then to Aspirus GVH in Ironwood, MI.

After continued life-saving measures, the 47-year-old female was pronounced dead at Aspirus Hospital.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - High school and middle school cross country skiers spent the weekend competing in Rhinelander for the annual Ascension Northwoods Nordic Hodag Challenge.

The two-day event attracted teams from more than 10 different schools across Wisconsin, and some schools from Michigan.

Head Coach for Rhinelander Nordic Charil Reis said her team spent a lot of time hitting the trails thanks to the generosity of mother nature. 

"We've been blessed with a lot of snow this year, so we haven't had to do a lot of indoor type of practice," said Reis.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - Professional snowmobilers took to the racetrack in Eagle River this weekend. However, they weren't the only ones riding on some top-of-the line sleds.

Arctic Cat was at the derby offering demo rides on their 2021 models. People got a chance to try out the different machines, and put money down on a model of their choice.

Sales director Joe Klosterman said it's important for people to try before they buy.

"We do it to give an experience to the consumer," said Klosterman. "You wouldn't buy a car without driving it. We've also got a new model this year that I think is going to bring a lot of new people into the industry." 

Demo workers took guests out on a 10-mile loop to experience some of the best trails in the Northwoods. Those trails featured curbs, some fresh powder, and lots of bumps to test the machines' suspension.

Klosterman said Arctic Cat sold lots of sleds over the weekend thanks to the promotion.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - Professional snowmobilers from around the world compete for the world championship trophy in Eagle River this weekend. Meanwhile, some smaller racers compete for prizes of their own.

While countless snowmobile enthusiasts cheer on the pros, parents support their kids in a variety of youth races.

Derby Complex president Russ Davis said it's a vital aspect of the World Championship weekend.

"You have to have a minor league," said Davis. "Just like baseball and basketball. These kids have idols, their dads, their buddies who are racers."

+ Read More
+ More General News