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 National Guard

The Oneida County Health Department says due to inclement weather forecasted for Thursday, February 4, 2020, COVID-19 testing with the Wisconsin National Guard at Grace Foursquare Church will be cancelled.

OCHD will be working to contact individuals who had previously scheduled appointments for COVID-19 testing.

The National Guard Testing site in Oneida County is usually open Tuesdays and Thursday. COVID-19 testing is also offered at local healthcare providers. 


The National Weather Service reports Hazardous travel conditions are likely from late Wednesday night through Friday morning.

It will start as a wintry mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain before transitioning to heavy snow by midday Thursday. Moderate to heavy snow is likely at times on Thursday afternoon before ending late Thursday night.

Gusty northwest winds may hamper efforts to treat roads on Friday morning, according to NWS.


Schools started making decisions Wednesday afternoon on whether to call a snow day or switch instruction to all virtual on Thursday, February 4. This list will be updated regularly. 


Lakeland Union High School Closed: Closed on Thursday, February 4.

School District of Rhinelander: Closed, no virtual learning. No decision made yet on afternoon activities.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Tuesday mid-morning, the parking lot at the MECCA trails was already starting to fill up with cross country skiers and snowshoers.

“Our traffic has been way up,” said MECCA Ski Club President Mike Shouldice. He says it’s been like ski trails opened in early January. “We’ve had just enough snow to have very good skiing. We got off to a late start. We weren’t able to set track until just after the first of the year.”

The trail system in Mercer is made up of 21 kilometers of ski trails groomed for both classic and skate skiing. There’s also three miles snowshoe trails.


Much of Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula will be under a Winter Storm Watch starting early Thursday morning.

Most areas will likely receive 5+ inches of snow. Amounts may reach up to 9 inches over far northern Wisconsin and the U.P.


Going hungry does more than impact a child’s physical wellbeing.

It can affect their mental health as well as their success in school.

Feed Our Rural Kids or FORK wants to make sure kids in Vilas County don’t go hungry.

FORK President Perry Pokrandt says that’s a challenge in the Northwoods.

“They live in an area that is an economically challenging place for families to raise kids,” said Pokrandt.

Since it started in 2019, FORK has mostly been supporting families in the Northland Pines School District.

Wisconsin DHS

Wisconsin is steadily increasing the number of people getting vaccinated every day.

As of Tuesday, more than 568,000 doses had been administered. Of those, 108,713 people have gotten both the required doses.

Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said the system and demand for doses is where it needs to be.

But the state needs more doses to meet requests from vaccinators.

While they’re harder to find under the layer of snow, fungi are all around us in the Northwoods.

“There are fungi everywhere,” said Tom Volk.

Volk first became fascinated with fungi as an undergrad.

“I took a course in college on fungi and I found out you could get free food and I thought that was pretty attractive thing for a college student,” said Volk.

Now a professor of biology, Volk teaches at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.

He says learning about fungi is key to understanding the woods and world around you.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

The large white bubble that is the Hodag Dome is almost blinding in the February sun. Its soft-looking exterior stands out in stark contrast to the brick, rectangular buildings around it.

Inside, a group of about 50 people spread out on the turf field.

“This is just a very exciting day for School District but also our community,” said School District of Rhinelander Superintendent Eric Burke.

The Hodag Dome is now open to the public.

  • Wisconsin to soon rollout online vaccination program
  • Study: Schools that take proper precautions aren't COVID-19 spreaders
  • People's Map Commission looks to learn from other states 

Forest County Sheriff's Office

Three people are facing drug-related charges after Forest County Deputies stopped their car in Laona last Thursday night.

The K9 unit was used and indicted there were drugs in the car.

Deputies searched the car and found more than a ¼ ounces of meth, cocaine, marijuana, and items used to package drugs.

Lydia John, 25, from Oneida and Matthew Skodowski, 30, from Milwaukee were arrested for possession with intent to sell.

Rebecca Parker, 23, from Green Bay is facing possession charges.

This year, Wisconsin along with all the other states will re-draw voting district lines to redistribute political power.

With Wisconsin’s current mapping system, whichever party controls the legislatures draws the maps, usually to favor their own party. This is what’s referred to as gerrymandering.

Governor Evers created the People’s Map Commission to help draw district lines that don’t favor one political party over the other.

To figure out the best, most fair way to redraw lines, the commission is learning from other states.


Oneida County Health Department will start vaccinating people in the 65 and older age group. Until now, the health department had been focused on frontline healthcare workers and first responders.

To sign up for a vaccine with Oneida County Health Department, please go to oneidacountypublichealth.org or call 715-401-4150. As COVID-19 vaccines are received by OCHD, people who are eligible to receive the vaccine and have completed the sign-up form will be contacted with a date for them to receive their vaccine.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Demmer Memorial Library Director Erica Brewster stands at a computer behind the front desk as she checks in recently returned books.  She’s proud of services the Three Lakes library has continued to offer throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of libraries are working to do creative services and outreach during the pandemic, homeschooling support, and other services that really we’ve had a great opportunity to learn in this year from the pandemic experience and we think we could come out of this so much stronger,” said Brewster.

Department of Workforce Development

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has been struggling with millions of unemployment claims.

Republicans have accused Governor Evers of making people wait for months for payouts.