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

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Schools provide some children with free breakfast and lunch, but what happens when the weekend rolls around?

The Weekend Backpack Program started with one child and one bag filled with a weekend’s worth of food.

Since then, the program has grown to encompass children across multiple school districts, including – most recently – Phelps.

Last week, Feed Our Rural Kids announced its expansion into the Phelps school district.

To meet the needs of that community, they’re partnering with the Weekend Backpack Program.

  • Wisconsin among top states in COVID-19 vaccine rollout efficiency
  • Second case of a coronavirus variant detected in the state
  • Iron Mountain VA Medical Center opens appointments for vaccine clinic
  • Wisconsin’s primary election for state superintendent of public instruction approaches

  • Former Rhinelander Administrator could get charges against him dismissed
  • Oneida County Health Department is working with volunteers to vaccinate 1,000 residents in a weekend
  • Snowmobile sales are up this winter amid the COVID-19 pandemic
  • ATV clubs ask committee to consider opening more Vilas County roads for ATV and UTV use

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Winter started late this year in Northern Wisconsin, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at snowmobile sales.

Like other outdoor equipment, snowmobiles are in high demand this winter.

Snow finally arrived in the Northwoods last week, and snowmobilers took to the trails to celebrate.

But even before the ground was a blanket of white, snowmobiles were flying off the floors of local dealers.

Joe Yakey has been in the snowmobile business for more than 30 years, and he’s the general manager at Antigo Yamaha.

  • Wausau Mayor reminds residents that local mask mandate stands regardless of state’s decisions
  • Michigan is ahead of most states in its vaccination effort
  • Lawmakers urge USDA to include loggers in COVID-19 relief packages
  • Minocqua town board turns down request to construct a new soccer field

Erin Gottsacker/WXPR

The Oneida County Forestry, Land and Recreation Committee has been planning to sell a portion of Town Line Lake Park since 2018.

Now, members of the public are speaking out against the sale.

This week, the Oneida County Forestry, Land and Recreation Committee tabled a resolution to sell a portion of Town Line Lake Park.

That means they won’t decide whether or not to move forward with the sale until their meeting in May.

The decision to table the resolution came after a number of community members expressed opposition to the sale.

Gogebic Range Health Foundation Facebook

WXPR’s Nonprofits of the Northwoods spotlights organizations in our area that are working to strengthen the community – whether that’s by lending a hand to someone in need, educating about the arts, or caring for the environment.

The Gogebic Range Health Foundation works to improve community health in the Northwoods by enhancing trails, expanding access to fruits and vegetables, and supporting local clinics.

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Waitlists for the COVID-19 vaccine are overflowing with hundreds of people eager to receive their first dose.

But in rural areas, greater portions of people are hesitant or unwilling to get vaccinated.

COVID-19 has changed lives everywhere, but its impact on rural parts of the country is especially pronounced.

Rural communities have fewer hospital workers and hospital beds, less access to telehealth, and their populations tend to be older.

The Hodag Store Facebook Page

In a Pennsylvania town, Phil the groundhog saw his shadow today.

The omen predicts six more weeks of winter.

But here in the Northwoods, the real question is – did the hodag see its shadow?

Ben Brunell is the owner of the Hodag Store in Rhinelander.

He was part of an expedition this morning on the lookout for a hodag.

“We started off in the woods looking for hodags like we normally do,” Brunell said. “We had a little trouble finding a specimen this year.”

Eventually Brunell and his friend Kerry Bloedorn caught wind of a hodag in an unusual cave.

Oneida County Health Department Facebook Page

If you’re one of the many Wisconsinites on a waitlist for the COVID-19 vaccine, you might be wondering what will happen after you finally nab an appointment.

Of course, that will depend partly on where you go, but some elements of the process will probably be similar.

Bob Warning received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

He’s a courier for FedEx Express and he’s older than 65. Full disclosure, he’s also the father-in-law of Ben Meyer, one of WXPR’s reporters.

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When COVID-19 tests come back increasingly positive in a community, the trend isn’t always reflected at local schools.

In fact, when schools implement measures like mask wearing, social distancing and sanitizing, they can keep transmission of the virus low.

That’s according to a study recently published by the CDC.

Dr. Amy Falk, the pediatrician who led the study, reached these conclusions by examining 17 K-12 schools in Wood County, WI.

Rhinelander District Library

WXPR’s Nonprofits of the Northwoods spotlights organizations in our area that are working to strengthen the community – whether that’s by lending a hand to someone in need, educating about the arts, or caring for the environment.

The Rhinelander District Library has gone through some changes since the pandemic started last March.

For example, they’re lending books through curbside pickup and providing subscription book boxes to interested teens.

Listen to the full interview for more about what those changes look like, and for some story recommendations.

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Earlier this week, Wisconsin started vaccinating people who are 65 and older.

But Northwoods residents who have been vaccinated through a pharmacy program like Trig’s or Hometown Pharmacy are a lucky few.

When federal and state governments started enrolling pharmacies to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, Trig’s jumped on board.

Jeff Suppon, Trig’s director of pharmacy, estimates Trig’s has vaccinated about 1,000 residents in long-term care facilities over the past month.

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Restaurants, hotels and theaters have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many saw a sharp decrease in revenue collected in 2020 compared to 2019.

But despite the pandemic, counties across the Northwoods collected more in county sales taxes than ever before.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve spoken with local entrepreneurs whose businesses have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That includes business owners like George Rouman, who owns a movie theater in Rhinelander.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Boulder Junction lost its town road equipment to an overnight fire last night.

The fire started inside the town shop.

Inspections to determine what caused the fire are ongoing.

Boulder Junction Town Chair Dennis Reuss said the damage caused by the fire was significant.

“We lost all our equipment at this point including our building. The building is still standing obviously. It was all internal,” said Reuss.

The loss includes equipment to keep roads plowed, sanded and clean.

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