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.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry won’t be able to do its normal food distribution Monday from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.

The pantry said it’s having water issues that is preventing the distribution.

There will be another Farmers to Families Food Box Distribution this Thursday, April 29th. They hope to start at 8:30 a.m. but it depends on when the truck arrives.

It’s open to the public. Boxes are free and do not require registration.

Search and rescue teams are still looking for a missing Paulding teen.

Cam Besonen, 17, was last seen Friday evening in the Paulding area in Ontonagon County. He was wearing a long-sleeve shirt and jeans, clothes that don’t offer much protection in cold weather.

The Ontonagon County Sheriff's Office said multiple agencies and volunteers have been looking for Besonen all weekend and are continuing their search Monday morning. 

Police ask if you notice anything or anyone in your area, to please call 911.

Wisconsin Department of Corrections

Warning: some listeners may find the details in this story disturbing and graphic.

  The Lincoln Hills-Copper Lake juvenile prisons in Lincoln County were set to close this year under a law passed in 2018.

That deadline won’t be met.

The biggest issue has been where to put the children.

Ahead of last week’s Joint Committee on Finance budget hearing WXPR asked lawmakers about where things stand.

Rep. Evan Goyke (D- Milwaukee) said legislation that would create new facilities have been sitting in the JCF for almost two years.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Rhinelander School District’s Hodag Dome was a main draw for the Joint Committee on Finance to hold the budget hearing.

“This is probably the most unique setting that we’ve ever held a public hearing at which is pretty cool,” said Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) in his introduction at the budget hearing.

Rhinelander School Board Foundation President Dave Heck said the dome has already been a great addition to the community and the state.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Joseph Fehlen has some big plans for the downtown Rhinelander storefront he’s renting on Davenport Street.  He originally rented it as a place for his travel business, Small Town Wanderer, but quickly realized it was too much space.

Now, Fehlen is transforming it into Northwoods Coworking.

“Just having space for people to work. Entrepreneurs, start-ups, digital nomads, they can get out and at a really low level get in to staring a business or just getting their work done,” said Fehlen.

Wisconsin DHS

Wisconsin seems to be in a bit of a holding pattern when it comes to COVID-19 cases and vaccinations.

The 7-day average of new cases has dropped a bit from a slight peak last week.

We’re now averaging 641 cases a day.

Wisconsin hasn’t experienced the jump in cases like Michigan saw with the variant cases increasing.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard says we’re by no means out of the woods yet.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

For seven hours today Wednesday, the Wisconsin Joint Committee on Finance heard from people on their priorities for the state budget.

The budget hearing was held in Rhinelander at the Hodag Dome.

Representative Mark Born (R- Beaver Dam) said he was glad local representatives suggested the location.

In February, board members approved a resolution recognizing March 2021 Social Work Month declaring social workers as heroic and essential.

But before passing the resolution, the board removed language saying Social workers “heal our nation during these times of pandemic, racial unrest, economic uncertainty and political divisiveness.”

PIXABAY.COM

With the snow melted and the occasional warmer day, many of us have been itching to get out on the trail. But unless it’s one close to home, it can be hard to know what kind of trail conditions you’re going to find.

A new tool from Travel Wisconsin could help with that.

Like its snowmobile and cross-country skiing reports, the state tourism office now has a hiking and biking trail report.

PIXABAY.COM

The Wisconsin DNR found elevated levels of PFAS in some fish in Silver Creek in Monroe County.

It, along with the Department of Health Services, has issued a new fish consumption advisory.

People shouldn’t eat more than one meal of brook or brown trout from the creek per month.

PFAS refers to a group of manmade chemicals that, when ingested, is linked to health risks including cancer. 

DNR Policy Advisor Mimi Johnson says this is just the latest advisory the two agencies have had to issue because of the chemicals.

PIXABAY.COM

AARP Wisconsin is laying out five major priorities for Wisconsin’s next two-year budget.

They include support for family caregivers, expansion of Medicaid, expansion of broadband, lower prescription drug costs and retirement security options.

Jim Flaherty, Communications Director for AARP Wisconsin, said all of those priorities are in Governor Tony Evers’ budget proposal, now it’s just getting support from Republican lawmakers.

Rhinelander District Library

Monday, the Rhinelander District Library reopened its doors once again. It’s spent that last week getting ready to welcome people back.

It’s been five months since Rhinelander District Library Director Virginia Roberts has seen many of her patrons.

When COVID-19 cases started rising last November, the library decided to switch back to curbside service only like it had in the beginning pandemic.

Vaccinations are a big reason Roberts feels comfortable welcoming people back.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

After a winter of heavy snow blanketing the woods creating a peaceful silence, the sounds of spring can be almost deafening.

Birds return. Frogs wake from their frozen slumber. The ice melting on the lakes creates its own unique sound.

“Some people tell me it sounds like a groaning whale or like a laser gun, a Star Wars noise, or like you just said a Doctor Who noise,” said Emily Heald, Water Program Coordinator at the North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters.

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center

 

Oneida County Health Department Director Linda Conlon is proud of the vaccination effort in the county.

Nearly 45% of residents have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine which is above the state average of 37%.

“We’re pretty happy about that,” said Conlon.

She also impressed with the 65 and older age group getting nearly 83% vaccinated.

PIXABAY.COM

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress wants your input.

“We’re hoping to hear from anybody and everybody that has interest in Wisconsin’s natural resources,” said Kari Lee-Zimmerman, DNR liaison to the WCC.

The Spring Virtual Hearings survey opened Monday night.

“It’s gone very smoothly. There were no problems with the with launch of the survey, we’re steadily increasing in the input, so I think people are sort of taking their time getting to it knowing that they have 72 hours and it’s not necessarily a mad dash since the beginning, but a slow and steady pace.”

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