Katie Thoresen

News Director/ Vice President

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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.

Forest County Sheriff's Office

The Forest County Sheriff’s Office found more than two pounds of crack and powder cocaine on a man at hotel in Crandon.

Police arrested Lagene McGhee, 48, of Milwaukee on April 1.

Officers say, in addition to the cocaine, they found a gun, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia on him.

McGhee will be facing federal charges. The Forest County Drug Task Force testified before a Grand Jury in United States Federal Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

PIXABAY.COM

In the last year and a half, 6,850 Wisconsinites have died because of COVID-19. 248 of those deaths are people from the Northwoods.

“For the nurses who knew their faces were the last their patients would see. Their hands the last they would hold. For our healthcare professionals on the frontline of this pandemic the numbers are all too real. This past year, over a year, has been a year of loss,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, Department of Health Services Deputy Director.

PIXABAY.COM

In 2018, Wisconsin had more than 3,100 estimated cases of Lyme disease. The average number of reported cases has more than doubled over the past 10 years, according to the Department of Health Services.

“Lyme disease is extremely prevalent here unfortunately just due to the large amount of ticks in the area,” said Tiffany Miller, a nurse practitioner with Aspirus Rhinelander Clinic.

PIXABAY.COM

It’s the time of year when black bears are starting to wake up and get moving. 

After a long winter deep sleep, bears often wake up with a focus on food.

“They’re out actively searching, opportunistically searching for food sources. At this time there’s not a lot of food sources available until that green up occurs,” said Brad Koele, a wildlife damage specialist with the Wisconsin DNR.

PIXABAY.COM

The demand for workers is high across the Northwoods.

“One company is registered they have over 20 openings. That’s just one company,” said Jenny Kowalczyk, employment and training specialist and TAA case coordinator with the Department of Workforce Development.

She said there are more than 50 companies registered for Wednesday’s virtual job fair.

“I know a couple companies have raised their minimum wage increase just to get the job seekers there. There definitely is a need for job seekers for our businesses in the Northwoods,” said Kowalczyk.

PIXABAY.COM

Chaotic, rushed, and mishandled are all words Wisconsin’s Green Fire used to describe the state’s February wolf hunt.

Green Fire is a conservation group that supports science-based management of Wisconsin’s natural resources.

It recently released its assessment of the wolf hunt.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Starting Monday, people driving along US Highway 2 through Iron County can expect some lane and shoulder closures.

It’s the first stage in a four-stage process to build a roundabout at the interchange between highways US 2 and US 51.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Project Manager Kai Kilen said there’s a couple issues with the current road conditions this project will fix.

“The existing interchange, the pavement was shoving a lot of signs of deterioration. The existing bridge is also deteriorating and in need of heavy maintenance,” said Kilen.

Science on Tap-Minocqua

As Wisconsin’s Chief State Forester, a lot of Heather Berkland’s life revolves around trees.

“You got to love trees. Trees are really the answer to an overall healthy ecosystem,” said Berkland.

Berkland says forests are essential to the health of the environment and people.

“It filters pollutants, protects water quality, provides wildlife habitat,” she said.

Trees are also a key part of the state’s economy.

  • Evers hasn’t met with Republican to talk budget
  • Judge rules against Wisconsin GOP hiring lawyer over redistricting
  • Communities come together to clean up Great Lakes
  • Biden climate plan could mean job training for Wisconsin
  • Forest Service & Nature Conservancy partnership rebuilds accessible trout fishing site

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Barrier-free fishing piers along the South Branch Oconto River are now open to the public.

The access points allow for a more accessible way for people to enjoy the trout fishing along the river.

“There was an old structure here and that was completely removed and then they had to drive new pilings and put this new structure on top. And a lot of times change the grade to make sure it was ADA compliant,” said Mike Brown, Lakewood-Laona District Ranger of the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest.

Nicolet College

Nicolet College in Rhinelander has selected its next president.

Kate Ferrel will be taking over the position in July.

“I am so incredibly honored to be given this opportunity to lead this institution,” said Ferrel.

Ferrel started with Nicolet College in 2014 as the Dean of Students.

She then went on to serve as vice president of Student Affairs and eventually to her current position as executive vice president of Academic and Student Affairs.

Ferrel told WXPR she has several priorities.

Raptor Education Group, Inc.

Rain, hail, and snow haven’t been the only things falling from the skies in the last 48 hours.

Local wildlife rehabilitators have been busy responding to calls of grounded loons.

“We see this happen every few years,” said Mark Naniot, Director of Rehabilitation at Wild Instincts in Rhinelander.

During weather events like we’ve been seeing the last of days where it’s cold and wet, it’s not uncommon to see loons land on pavement, especially when it happens during the migration.

PIXABAY.COM

Despite most people waking up to fresh snow Monday, it should start feeling more like spring this week with temperatures in the upper 50s.

The early snowmelt and overall drier spring has meant the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest staff have been able to get work done earlier than usual.

Next month, Rhinelander will be celebrating all things Hodag with the Hodag Heritage Days.

“We want to celebrate our heritage. We want to be proud of each other. This community has really come together and supported each other on the local level. This event is for everyone,” said Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce Event and Program Coordinator Rachel Boehlen.

Boehlen says the idea for the event has been in the works for years.

The Chamber wanted to hold it last year, but like most things, it got pushed back because of the pandemic.

PIXABAY.COM

The Antigo Police Department said the there is no threat to students or staff at Antigo Middle School.

Police were called to the middle school around 6:15 Monday morning. The police department said there was a ‘suspicious circumstance’ and alarms going off.

Officers searched the school and found some damage and items missing from the school. Within an hour, police found and arrested a suspect. Charges are currently pending.

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