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.

Wisconsin DNR

Driving west out of Merrill on Highway 64 you’ll notice large breaks in the forest give way to farmlands.

Every couple of miles you come across big barns with tall silos. Cows and horses graze in large pens right along the highway.

One of those farms belongs to Ryan Klussendorf.

“I was born and raised on a dairy farm," said Klussendorf. 

Wikimedia Commons Royalbroil

Rural America isn’t dying. That’s the message sociologist Ben Winchester is sharing with Vilas County this week.

Winchester has been studying rural America through the University of Minnesota Extension. He’s found that small towns aren’t dying, they’re changing.

Winchester has done some of his research in Vilas County. Vilas County Economic Development Corporation board chairman Jim Tuckwell said that’s one of the reason they invited him to speak this week.

Great Headwaters Trails

The Conover-Phelps section of the Great Headwaters Trails is in the home stretch.

The goal is a 10.7 mile paved bike trail connecting the towns of Conover and Phelps in Vilas County.

The Great Headwaters Trails is 1.9 miles away from reaching that goal.

“Biking of course has become on even bigger thing this year and just being outside. The trail certainly allows people to continue to do those things,” said GHT Executive Director Jeff Currie.

To build the final stretch of the trail, the GHT is looking to raise a total of $200,000.

Wisconsin DNR

The Wisconsin DNR is in its third and final year of study looking at the impact of West Nile Virus on ruffed grouse.

The DNR is looking into how present the virus is in the species and the effect it could have on populations.

So far, results show the virus does not have a devastating impact on the ruffed grouse population in Wisconsin.

Park Falls Police

The Parks Falls Police Department says it’s been getting reports of suspicious activity that appears to be related.

On September 8th, the Chequamegon High School and Middle School cross country teams were returning to school after practice.

One child told police that a man in a white car approached him. The man said he was from out of town and asked where the hospital was. The man lit up a cigarette while talking to the boy. The boy’s father was parked nearby. As soon as the father drove up, the other man pulled away.

Daniel Guild

The Oneida County District Attorney has filed new charges against former Rhinelander City Administrator Daniel Guild. 

An amended complaint was filed in Oneida County Court on September 11, 2020. According to the court documents, Guild is facing two new counts of Tampering with Public Records. Both are felony charges.

Wisconsin National Guard

The National Guard is offering free drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Crandon on Saturday, September 19.

It’s being held at the Forest County Highway Department at 5350 County Highway W from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

It’s open to Wisconsin residents and is first come, first serve.

People are being asked to register ahead of time at https://register.covidconnect.wi.gov/en-US/.

The following is a break down of COVID-19 cases in this reigon as of Friday afternoon. 


The Sokaogon Chippewa Community Health Clinic is closed Friday for a deep clean. A health clinic staff member tested positive for COVID-19.The Sokaogon Chippewa Community said that person is self-isolating. Direct contacts are also self-isolating. The person is not an SCC Tribal Member and does not live in the Mole Lake Community.

The SCC Health Clinic suspended all services Friday so the ICS Cleaning Crew can sanitize the facility. It will reopen Saturday for COVID-19 testing only. Starting Monday, the SCC Health Clinic will be available for testing and emergency services only. 


The School District of Tomahawk is reporting a positive COVID-19 case within the district.

The person was at Tomahawk High School on Friday, September 11.

Five staff members and seven students have been identified as close contacts by the Lincoln County Health Department. They’ve all been asked to self-quarantine.

In a letter to staff and families, the district said exposure was limited to just one classroom in the building. That area is being cleaned and disinfected.

Wisconsin DHS

The Forest County case rate or burden is now at 1002. On Tuesday, it was at 544.5 which was the highest in the state at the time. Now it’s nearly doubled the next highest burden.

For persepctive, this is the burden for other counties in the region:

  • Art in the Square in Crandon Canceled Over COVID-19 Concerns
  • Police Warn of Traffic Ahead of President Trump’s Visit to Mosinee
  • Vilas County Works to Improve Broadband to Draw in Businesses
  • Park Falls Paper Mill Operating Once More


Getting your flu shot at VA locations is going to look a little different this year. This year the VA is administering the shots in a drive-thru clinic.

The VA is offering free flu shots for veterans enrolled in VA Health Care.  

“Our veterans can stay right in their cars. Just roll down the window. Wear a short sleeve shirt or slip your coat off and we’ll be able to give the vaccine that way,” said R.N. Infection Control Nurse Ann Mattson. “We don’t want to bring people into the medical facility or to the community-based clinics if they don’t really need to be exposed.”


The Oneida County Health Department reports that a horse in Oneida County has tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), which is caused by the EEE virus.

Several other EEE cases have been reported in counties in northern and western regions of the state.

There have also been two cases of the virus found in humans. Prior to 2020, only three human cases of EEE had been reported in the state between 1964 and 2019.

EEE virus is spread to humans, horses, and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.


Boy Scouts of America teaches scouts everything from outdoor skills to leadership skills.

There are different programs available for boys and girls in kindergarten all the way through age 20.

Samoset Council District Director Amanda Flannery said joining a pack or troop is a great program, especially right now.  

Photo by Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Voters will have a couple different options when it comes to casting their ballots this November.

You can vote in person at the polls or you can request an absentee ballot.

Voting at the polls will be fairly straight forward and similar to previous years, just with more safety precautions in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you request an absentee ballot you have different options on how you return it. You can mail it back.  You can go to your city clerk’s office and put it right in their hands.