RHINELANDER - About 2,500 cars use Boyce Drive in Rhinelander each day, according to a recent Wisconsin DOT study. It's not the busiest entry point, but well-traveled nonetheless. Drivers heading into the city passed a faded and peeling welcome sign along that stretch for decades, but Wednesday the sign got new life.
"They're going to notice it. It's such a pretty sign," Rhinelander Parks Director Jeremy Biolo said.
The new "Home of the Hodag" sign went up in a matter of minutes Wednesday afternoon. It replaced a nearly identical one that sat about 20 feet farther back off the road on private property.
"We didn't know whose it was, if it was supposed to be the Street Department's or Parks'," Biolo said. "We all just worked together and took care of the problem."
After setting sign posts in cement, Biolo and a co-worker placed the large wooden board along Boyce Drive.
"We've had it in our shop for about a week and we're just totally stoked to get it up," Biolo said.
The Parks Department may have placed the sign, but it wasn't their project. That fell, at first, on the Kiwanis Club of Rhinelander, including board member Scott Henrichs, who remembers seeing the sign as a child.
"It's been here at least... 40 years," Henrichs said with a laugh.
Henrichs says his group started talking about a replacement sign six or eight months ago. The club's board thought a fresh look would complement the city's new dog park in nearby Shepard Park.
"A nice sign would just accent that and complete the project," Henrichs said.
The sign includes a big yellow and blue Kiwanis Club logo underneath it, which gives the appearance the project was solely theirs, but the group incorporated a number of different people, including the Three Lakes High School Fab Lab to etch the new sign.
Local sawmill owner Jim Nordstrom donated the wood and posts, while George St. Catherine designed the look, handed it off to the Three Lakes students, then painted the finished product.
"[Hopefully people will say] wow, the kids were involved, the students were involved, the community came together and they put up a very, very nice sign," Henrichs said.
The Kiwanis Club hopes the new sign lasts many decades. Biolo plans to use his parks department staff and skills to make sure drivers notice it for just as long.
"Any time you get something new and shiny, it says a lot about the community," Biolo said. "We want things looking decent in Rhinelander and that's the step we're going now."
The Kiwanis Club wanted to make sure it thanked those who volunteered their time to make the project happen. The club gave money to the YMCA of the Northwoods (per St. Catherine's suggestion) and the Three Lakes School Fab Lab for their work.
RHINELANDER - A former contracted janitor accused of sexually assaulting a Rhinelander student appears headed for a trial.
Stavros Iliopoulos appeared in Oneida County Court on Friday afternoon. Attorneys told Judge Michael Bloom they had not reached a plea deal. Bloom decided to schedule one final pre-trial conference for late August before a two-day jury trial was set for Sept. 4 and 5.
In late November, police said Iliopoulos, 65, took a girl into a dark closet and hugged, kissed, and touched her inappropriately at Northwoods Community Elementary School, a public charter school in Harshaw.
Iliopoulos worked for a contracted company, Victory Janitorial, at the time.
THREE LAKES - Plenty of Three Lakes High School students didn't know what they want to do for a career as of Friday morning. By Friday afternoon, many still weren't sure, but dozens got an inside look at possible careers.
The school held its annual Career Day on Friday morning. About 25 presenters included police, an FBI agent, college teachers, and graphic designers.
The school first held Career Day in 2009. Organizers hope students realize they have plenty of opportunities close to home.
WOODRUFF - Shoveling snow can hurt your back. But some may not know that staring at all that snow can hurt your eyes.
The term albedo tells us the amount of light that's either absorbed into the ground or reflected back up. On days like Friday, the snow pack will really make it look brighter out and boost the albedo amount. That's hard on the eyes.
Dr. Kirby Redman is an Optometrist in Woodruff. He says there are simple ways to protect your eyes from the sun's damaging rays.
All sorts of animals are affected by icy conditions. Some Northern Wisconsin owls dive INTO the snow to hunt small rodents. But recent freezing rain has formed an ice crust that owls can't break through. That means owls are beginning to starve.
Amanda Schirmer has been working at the Northwoods Wilderness Center for the past four years. She says that owls may hang around birdfeeders to prey on smaller birds. They may also be seen near roads.
SEYMOUR, IND. - A chain-reaction crash in southern Indiana killed a Minocqua couple on Wednesday morning.
Glenn Cardelli and his wife, Kathryn, both 57 years old, were traveling in south an RV near Seymour, Ind., on Interstate 65. The RV was behind a semi and an SUV, both of which slowed due to highway maintenance.
Another semi failed to slow down behind the stalled traffic and crashed into the Cardellis' RV. The crash killed the couple and John Mumma, 67, an Illinois man driving the SUV.
The vehicles caught fire. Interstate 65 was closed for about eleven hours for cleanup and crash investigation.
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