Erin Gottsacker

Reporter and Morning Edition Host

Erin Gottsacker joined WXPR in December 2020. As a morning edition host and reporter, Erin reports on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.

A Cincinnati native, Erin graduated from Ohio State University with bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and International Development. Before coming to Wisconsin, she served as a Peace Corps educator in rural Ethiopia.

Erin is happy to call Northern Wisconsin home, after spending a lifetime of visiting family in the area. Erin is a fan of hiking, ice cream and Bananagrams.

Ways to Connect

If you’ve been shopping at the Trig’s in Rhinelander this summer, you may have noticed a group of veterans selling brats at the concession stand.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Rhinelander Post is raising money to support veterans in the Northwoods.

The organization also uses the money to grant scholarships to Rhinelander High School graduates.

Listen to the full interview with Quartermaster Jeff Kataoka to learn more about the organization’s ongoing fundraising effort.

Erin Gottsacker/WXPR

At a trailhead in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, hundred-year-old pine trees tower into the sky, while monarch caterpillars crunch on milkweed.

These native plants are thriving in this spot, partly because botanists like Marjory Brzeskiewicz have been controlling non-native invasive species in the forest for years.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest recently released its 2021 plan to control invasive plants.

According to the plan, the most common invasive species in the area are buckthorn, spotted knapweed, garlic mustard and wild parsnip.

Gov. Tony Evers signed the state’s new two-year budget into law two weeks ago.

Although it included $2 billion in tax cuts, not everyone is happy with the final product.

“To tell you the truth, I’m very, very disappointed in our legislators,” says Terry Reynolds, Tomahawk School District’s superintendent.

It’s a sentiment many local educators in the Northwoods echo.

The new state budget allocates $128 million in additional funding for public schools. That's far short of the $1.6 billion Gov. Evers proposed.

  • Milwaukee City Councilwoman Chantia Lewis joins race for U.S. Senate
  • Timber harvesters and haulers gain access to $200 million in COVID relief funding
  • Tomahawk School District joins national lawsuit against e-cigarette companies
  • Oneida County Health Department recognized as Wisconsin Technical College System’s Futuremaker Partner

Nicolet College

The Oneida County Health Department has worked endlessly with schools, businesses and community partners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

This month, they were recognized for that effort with the Wisconsin Technical College System’s Futuremaker Partner award.

That’s an annual award that WTCS uses to recognize an organization for its collaboration with a college.

Linda Conlon, the director of the Oneida County Health Department, says the health department has worked with Nicolet College for a long time.

  • Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes joins the race for U.S. Senate
  • Opioid overdose deaths rise in Wisconsin
  • Oneida County 4-H aims to use the county fair to teach local kids

WAOW Television

Friends and community members constructed a mural at Pioneer Park in Rhinelander in honor of Hannah Miller.

It’s a collection of 3,000 cups painted to resemble the young woman.

She was killed on June 30, and police are still searching for her killer – who they believe is Christopher Terrell Anderson.

Organizers say the mural took about 25 hours to assemble.

They hope it reminds people of Miller’s life.

WisDOT North Central Region Twitter

Crews closed County Road K West near Conover yesterday afternoon to replace a bridge over the Wisconsin River.

The Conover Fire and Rescue Department said cracks in the bridge made it unsafe for travel.

Crews have been working to replace the bridge since June.

They expect it’ll be closed until October, when the project should be finished.

In the meantime, drivers can use US 45, County B and County S as a detour.

That detour should have signs soon.

  • Sen. Ron Johnson raises more money than Democratic candidates running for Senate
  • Walmart lost a federal lawsuit in Wisconsin against a woman with Down Syndrome
  • J1 visa workers are stuck at home amid COVID concerns
  • People who lost homes to fires struggle to find new places to live

By the middle of July, summer in the Northwoods is in full swing.

Lakeside resorts are full. Restaurants are crowded. Summer camps are off to a running start.

But at least one thing is still different this year than in years before COVID.

“We typically have 1,000 J1 visa workers that come to Minocqua, and we just didn’t get them this year,” says Krystal Westfahl, executive director of the Minocqua Chamber of Commerce.

J1 visas are given to people who come to the U.S. for a short period of time to work.

Nicolet College already offers many of its classes in an online format.

It’s part of what kept enrollment increasing at the school throughout the pandemic, while enrollment dropped at many other colleges and universities.

Now the college is adding another program to its online roster – the tribal business management certificate.

Nicolet’s tribal business management program is designed to meet the needs of people who work in tribal government or in businesses related to a tribe.

AAUW Wisconsin Facebook

The American Association of University Women advances equity for women and girls.

Sometimes the group does this by helping women advocate for fair pay.

Other times, it helps women further their education.

To achieve those ends, AAUW's Northwoods branch is hosting a book sale at Rhinelander High School from July 21-24.

Proceeds will go toward scholarships for women returning to college.

Listen to the full interview with AAUW's Northwoods Public Policy Officer Chris Ebert to learn more about how the organization supports local women.

Stormy Kromer Facebook

Stormy Kromer, the wool hat manufacturer in Ironwood, is finding new ways to recycle its scraps.

The company makes thousands of wool hats each day.

But with every finished product, there’s always a little bit of fabric left over.

“Every time we cut wool, we’re very efficient with the use of the fabric, but there is waste and when we’re cutting thousands of hats a day it adds up,” says the company’s president, Gina Thorsen.

In the past, those scraps of fabric ended up in a landfill because Ironwood, MI doesn’t have a recycling facility that accepts wool.

  • Seth Wakefield, the man charged in the death of a Rhinelander woman, will undergo a competency exam
  • Gov. Tony Evers seeks applicants for a circuit court judge in Vilas County
  • Report prompts calls for Wisconsin to raise the age for criminal responsibility
  • Western and Canadian wildfires create hazy skies across the Nortwhoods

Lincoln County Sheriff's Office Facebook

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office found and arrested a man wanted in Vilas County for two counts of sexual assault of a child.

The suspect had a warrant for his arrest after his bail was revoked.

He had cut off his electronic monitoring ankle bracelet and threw it away in Rhinelander.

A Lincoln County deputy found the man traveling through the Town of Pine River, near Merrill.

When more police were called to stop the man, he fled.

After a chase, deputies caught the suspect in Marathon County.