Katie Thoresen

News Director

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Katie Thoresen joined WXPR as the News Director in August of 2020. While new to WXPR, she's not new to Rhinelander. Katie previously worked for WJFW and has spent the last five years working in TV. She covers the news that matters to people in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula and takes a special interest in environmental and health care related stories. 

Katie is happy to be back in the Northwoods after living in Oregon for two years. She grew up in Illinois and has spent her entire life visiting the area. Katie is a graduate of Central Michigan University. Outside of work you can find her on the hiking trails or out on the water.


This weekend’s snow was enough to open snowmobile trails in Oneida County.

The Oneida County Snowmobile Council voted to open the trails earlier this month before rescinding that decision after more consideration of trail conditions.

The trails will now officially open at noon on Tuesday, January 26.

The Oneida County Forestry, Land, and Recreation Department says trails are still in rough, early season condition.

Snowmobilers should not onto lakes until the trail is clearly marked by barrels.

There will not be a wolf hunt in Wisconsin this winter.

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board heard nearly four hours of testimony on the subject Friday. 

The NRB held an emergency meeting Friday after some state legislators sent a letter saying state law required the DNR to hold a hunt this winter and wanted one before lawsuits potentially put the species back on the Endandgered Species List. 

There was no shortage of people who spoke for and against an immediate wolf hunt. Public testimony lasted more than four hours.


The second snowmobiler in less than a week has died in Iron County.

The Iron County Sheriff’s Office said it responded to a crash at 11:00 Thursday night.

It happened in the Town of Pence.

The Sheriff’s Office said two snowmobiles were driving down the trail. The lead one looked back and saw the second one was no longer behind him.

He turned around and found the other driver crashed and unresponsive.

A 38-year-old Minnesota man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Forest Service photos by Katie LeMoine

With colder temperatures and fresh snow in the forecast, trails conditions around the region should be improving.

Silent sport trails in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in the Washburn and Great Divide ranger districts open.

“The Nicolet side of the forest, the trails are in very poor shape. They have very little snow cover. We have a few trails up in the Northern part of the west zone that have much better conditions that range more from the fair to good category is how we would describe it,” said West Zone Recreation Program Manager Chad Jacobson.

  • Wisconsin vaccine advisory committee recommends grocery store employees & transit bus drivers be included in Phase 1B
  • Local healthcare systems helping with Phase 1B vaccine rollout, asks for patience
  • Michigan online sports betting and gaming starts Friday
  • Iron County works to draw in remote workers

Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest

The earth’s climate is changing. Since the 1880s, the global average surface temperature has increased by approximately two degrees Fahrenheit. Nineteen of the 20 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2001.

Wisconsin is seeing a direct impact of that, according to the Wisconsin Climate Change Task Force Report.

Ascension Wisconsin

Nearly a third of the of the Northwoods population falls into the 65 and older category that will soon be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ascension Wisconsin, Aspirus, and Marshfield Clinic will all be helping vaccinate this group.

Ascension will be contacting current patients that qualify to set up appointments. It’s asking people not to call hospitals and clinics at this time.

Both Marshfield Clinic and Aspirus have phone lines and an online system to set up appointments.


Wisconsinites will still be required to wear masks in most public settings.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers issued a new Public Health Emergency as the old one was set to expired. The order extends the mask wearing requirement in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.

It comes on the same day Wisconsin DHS announced COVID-19 vaccine eligibility will open to those 65 and older starting January 25.

Wisconsinites age 65 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning January 25. Wisconsin Department of Health Services made the announced Tuesday. 

Currently, frontline health care workers, residents in long-term care facilities (nursing homes and assisted living facilities), and police and fire personnel are eligible.

There are approximately 700,000 Wisconsinites who are 65 and older and Wisconsin currently receives around 70,000 first-dose vaccines per week from the federal government. It will take time to vaccinate this population in Wisconsin.


The housing market it in Wisconsin overcame a slow start in 2020.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association says home sales broke records last year. The WRA released its year-end report Monday.

January and February start off on a good note, but the market took a downward turn in March when the recession hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • No Eagle River Ice Castle in 2021
  • Michigan DNR Pilot Program to Keep Boat Launches Clear of Snow
  • Kenosha Sergeant Dies in Iron Count Snowmobile Crash
  • Wausau Father Arrested After Child Dies from Brain Injury
  • Wisconsin Enters Phase 1B, COVID-19 Cases Remain High

Dan Dumas/Kim Swisher Communications

The Eagle River Fire Department won’t be able to create its well-known Ice Castle this year.

The department usually pulls ice from Silver Lake. The ice needs to be at least 12 inches thick for the volunteers to create block big enough for the castle and for it to be safe enough for them to cut and pull the blocks out the ice.

In a Facebook post, the Eagle River Fire Department said the ice is 11 inches thick and the forecast doesn't show cold enough days ahead to gain that extra inch.

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center

Monday, Wisconsin opened vaccine enrollment to police and fire first responders. They’re the first part of Phase 1B.

Aspirus is working to help vaccinate this group.

First responders can get vaccinated at Aspirus Wausau Family Medicine or Aspirus Stevens Point Clinic.

Vaccinations are by appointment only. Fire and police first responders can call 715-847-2812 to schedule an appointment.

Aspirus said its working to expand vaccine access in additional communities for those who qualify within Phase 1B.

Wisconsin National Guard

Local and tribal health departments are getting more funding from the state to help with COVID-19 vaccinations.

Governors Evers and the Department of Health Services announced the funding last week.

The $86 million is being divided among Wisconsin’s local and tribal health departments.

DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said the funds are meant to help with cost of coordinating and administering COVID-19 vaccines as well as keep up with COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Wisconsin National Guard

Wisconsin is launching a mobile vaccination teams to help vaccinated more people, more efficiently.

The teams are a collaboration between the Department of Health Service, Wisconsin National Guard, and local health departments.