Natalie Jablonski

News and Features Contributor

A St. Germain woman has been sentenced to a year and one day in federal prison for filing false information on her income tax return, after she embezzled money from her employer. 58-year-old Cornelia Mutter worked for T.A. Solberg in Minocqua between 2004 and 2010.  She was discovered to be using company checks for personal expenses and credit card payments.   Though the company never pressed charges, the IRS calculated she embezzled more than 500-thousand dollars over seven years, resulting in a tax liability of over 100-thousand dollars.   Mutter pled guilty to the charge in March.  

Eagle River area residents will soon be able to preview design concepts for the Olson Memorial Library’s expansion.  


Library Director Nan Andrews says some of the new features include programming spaces like a youth area and a genealogy research room.  

“We have a lot of wall space that’s been targeted for art," she described, "and we’ve redesigned some community rooms so that those rooms could be broken up, and we could actually  have a special art gallery for one month if we needed it or wanted it.”  


Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

A nonprofit pushing for an off-road vehicle park in Forest County says the plan is not dead, despite a committee’s vote to keep the door closed against allowing off-road vehicles on county forest land.

The Wisconsin Off-Road Vehicle Park Incorporated or WORVPI says some of its members will meet Thursday to discuss next steps.

Plans for a new arts center and powwow venue in Lac du Flambeau are moving forward.


The Waaswaaganing Living Arts and Culture Center has hired an architecture firm to finalize designs for the new Indian Bowl performance area.  


As Project Director Tom Gallaher explains, the old Indian Bowl was an amphitheater that had to be torn down last year due to structural problems.  


At least two people were injured Monday morning in a vehicle crash between a semi and an SUV.  It happened in St. Germain at the intersection of Highway 70 and County C.   The Vilas County Sheriff's Office got the 911 call at 8:42 Monday morning.  The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but the Sheriff's office says the occupants of the SUV were partly ejected from the vehicle.   One injured person was transported by ambulance to Howard Young Medical Center, while another was flown by helicopter to Aspirus Hospital in Wausau.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

The Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest is working with partners to help carry out forest management projects, and that could be good news for the timber industry.

The forest products industry has complained that the national forest isn’t meeting its harvest goals, while the Forest Service says it doesn’t have enough funding to carry out all of its management projects. 

But Henry Schienebeck of Great Lakes Timber Professionals says collaborations have begun to help get work done on the forest.

Many northern Wisconsin counties could see zero-level quotas for antlerless deer for the second year in a row.

County deer advisory councils in Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Iron, and Langlade counties have made preliminary recommendations to give out zero permits for antlerless deer.

Vilas County Deer Advisory Council chair Ken Anderson says the council weighed the fact that even with restrictions…youth, disabled and active military hunters can still obtain an antlerless permit.

Pete Rondello

A plan for a bike trail to connect Phelps and Conover has gotten a financial boost.

The DNR’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund is awarding the project $120,000.  That's about $40,000 more than it initially gave. 

Great Headwaters Trail spokesperson Jeff Currie says it will help fund the second portion what should eventually be 11 miles of trail. 

“The section it was applied for is the middle section that goes from Muskrat Creek Road, to where Songhill Lane meets County Highway K, on railroad grade that runs north of Highway K.” 

Two people who died in a car accident and fire in Tomahawk early Sunday morning have been identified as 58-year-old Mark A. Nelson and 57-year-old Lani H. Nelson, both of Merrill.  

It happened near the intersection of East Somo Avenue and Charlotte Street, where police found a vehicle engulfed in flames around 1:30 am Sunday morning. 

Tomahawk police believe the vehicle left the roadway, struck a tree and caught fire.

The occupants of the vehicle were both pronounced dead on the scene.

The accident closed part of the roadway for about 12 hours. 

A Mercer ice fisherman fell through the ice on Squirrel Lake in the Minocqua area Thursday.

The Minocqua Police Department says it got the call just after 1 pm, reporting that 56-year-old Jay Taylor had fallen through about 100 yards from shore. 

While emergency rescuers were on their way, another man pushed aluminum boat out to Taylor and pulled him out of the water. 

But the two needed help from the Minocqua fire department to get the boat back to shore. 

Taylor was transported by ambulance to the Howard Young Medical Center.  

Royalbroil via

A Rhinelander native is helping launch a new theater company in the Bayfield area. 

Sidekick Theatre will put on its first season this summer at Stage North in Washburn.   

Co-founder Brian Pekol says it will coexist with The Groundlings, a community theater group that performs at Stage North during the off season.

Steven Thomas / US Fish and Wildlife Service

A declining species of bat will be federally protected throughout its range.  But the US Fish and Wildlife’s decision to list the northern long-eared bat as threatened, is drawing criticism from wildlife advocates who wanted stronger protections. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the northern long-eared bat as threatened due to the impacts of the deadly white nose syndrome.  But the agency withheld the more dire designation of endangered.  It’s also exempting activities like forest management from rules that prohibit incidental killing of the bat. 

Mitch Mode / WXPR News

As the days get longer many migratory birds are returning to the Northwoods.

Geese and robins have been reported, and birder Bob Dall says sandhill cranes have been back for a few weeks now. 

“They don’t need open water, they are more likely in search of open fields or areas where they can find food.  Some of them come back when there’s still snow and ice.” 

The annual spring Midwest Crane Count happens in a few weeks, on April 18th. 

U.S Geological Survey via

Science on Tap this week is looking at water quality in the Great Lakes.

Director of UW Madison’s Aquatic Sciences Center Jim Hurley says the nature of Great Lakes pollution has changed over the years, now coming from more diffuse sources instead of point ones. 

“We might have mercury, that used to be discharged directly from industrial sources, where dilution was the solution.  And now we’ve pretty much eliminated most of those, but we find that mercury enters the lake based on rainfall, and from the atmosphere.”

A proposal to disband a board that oversees for-profit higher education is getting some pushback from those in the field. 

The Educational Approval Board, or EAB, oversees about 250 Wisconsin institutions.  Governor Walker wants to shift its duties into other agencies like the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. 

But some educators think that’s a bad idea.