Whitewater Park upgrades will bring global competition back to Wausau, committee hopes

By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The committee behind the improvements to the Whitewater Park course is aiming to bring world-class kayaking talent back to the city by moving forward with the next phase of construction. 

The Wausau Kayak/Canoe Corp. is hoping to host another World Cup or Junior World Championship when the competition returns to the U.S. in 2022, according to a Thursday news release. 

The last time an international competition was held at the course was in 2012, when the International Canoe Federation Junior & U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships were held in the park. The competition brought hundreds of athletes and thousands of spectators from all over the world to Wausau and about $1.8 million in economic effect. 

The first phase of the improvements was completed last summer, adding updated walkways to both sides of the course, updated landscaping, improved seating, increased safety for boaters and access ramps for disabled boaters, the release said. 

Now the corporation is looking toward the second phase of construction, which will repair and upgrade water features that have deteriorated from years of erosion, movement and flooding. The release said that these improvements are necessary for high levels of performance, and will likely cost over $186,000. The Corporation hasn't yet released a date for the beginning of phase two.

After the second phase can be completed, the corporation will look to phase three, which will entail the addition of a pedestrian bridge, linking the trails along the east and west sides of the whitewater course, the release said. The total cost of the years-long project is estimated to be about $1 million, which is raised by the organization. 

The committee hopes that the improvements will help to keep the course competitive with others throughout the world, making Wausau a destination for kayakers, and in turn, attracting tourism impact dollars to the community, the release said. 

Whitewater Park opened in 1974 in downtown Wausau, and starts underneath the Stewart Street bridge. The course is about a third of a mile long and is used by paddlers during competitions and for recreation during the summer months. 

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Streetwise: Sweets on 3rd, Evolutions in Design among shops to check out for your Valentine

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By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

It's the time of year to send a bouquet of flowers and some chocolates to the love in your life. 

That's right — the romantic holiday is Wednesday, which means it's probably time to get your holiday shopping done. Whether you want flowers and chocolates or something a little out of the ordinary, these local shops have all the bases covered for you. 

Krueger Floral and Gift, 5240 Business 51

Looking for the perfect batch of roses delivered right to the door? Check out Krueger Floral's selection. Every year, said manager Beth Eiden, the store orders thousands of roses to keep up with the demand. 

If flowers aren't what your Valentine desires, check out the selection of plants, chocolates, stuffed animals, balloons and candles as well. And good news, last minute shoppers — the store has extended hours this weekend and up until Valentine's Day. Make sure to check out its website, www.kruegerfloral.com, for hours or to place your order at any time of the day or night. 

Delivery is available from the store to the Wausau metro area, as well as Mosinee. And if you select to have your bouquet delivered before the holiday, you and your Valentine will be entered to win a $100 gift card to Best Buy. 

Sweets on 3rd, 615 Third St.

If your Valentine has a sweet tooth, make sure to check out Wausau's downtown candy shop. The most popular items this time of year, said owner Valerie Charneski, are the truffles, which can be found neatly lined up on display shelves in the store. The truffles can be ordered one by one, or in a box of up to 32 pieces, depending on how chocolatey you want the day to be.

And for those who may not be able to deliver gifts themselves — 715 Delivery will pick up the sweets for them and take them right to your Valentine for you. 

If your Valentine is more into other types of candy, though, don't despair. There are plenty of gummies, hard candies, and more. You can even put a bow on the Chocolate Shoppe ice cream, which can be sold in pints. There are also coffee and tea sets that allow you to make the perfect cup in the comfort of your own home, Charneski said.

For more information, visit the Sweets on 3rd Facebook page

Evolutions in Design, 626 Third St.

Though roses might be conventionally the most popular flower on Valentine's Day, Evolutions in Design owner Randy Verhasselt encourages shoppers to think a little outside the box this year. 

Evolutions offers a wide selection of colorful, tropical flowers that can be mixed into an arrangement selected from the store's flower menu, or an arrangement designed by the shopper themselves. Pretty much every arrangement made at the store is unique, though, so you don't have to worry about purchasing the same bouquet as everyone else. 

And if you want to send another gift item along with the bouquet, there's an option to do that. Verhasselt said that they've delivered plants, jewelry, bath and body items and other trinkets that can be found in the store. Some customers even bring in candy purchased from Sweets on 3rd across the street to send with the flowers. 

Verhasselt said the store will be able to deliver flowers to the Wausau, Marathon City and Mosinee areas Monday and Tuesday, but on Wednesday delivery will be confined to Wausau, Schofield and Weston because of the volume of deliveries and how long they take. 

For more information on Evolutions in Design and its Valentine's Day offerings, visit www.evolutionsindesign.com

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City leaders hear update on Wausau Center Mall

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By:  By Courtney Terlecki at WAOW

Nearly a week after the last department store announced it was leaving the Wausau Center Mall, city leaders were given an update on the mall.

The planning, community and economic development director Christian Schock told the economic and development committee that the city is in constant contact with the mall owners, managers and the owners of Younkers.

"The city continues to encourage the lender/owner to move forward with listing the mall," said Schock. "If there's any positive lining in the situation, it's that with the departure of Younkers it would hasten or move faster the redevelopment opportunities."

Schock said he hopes there are developments in the coming weeks and says that he'll continue to update the committee monthly.

As for downtown businesses, Elizabeth Brodek with the Wausau River District said she doesn't think losing Younkers will have a big impact on the stores.

"Downtown as a whole is incredibly strong," said Brodek.

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Heart of Wausau project off to positive start

By Curtis Aderholdt with WAOW

Customers can show their love for Wausau with a simple heart.
    
It's called the Heart of Wausau project, an idea originally pitched by the owner of Polito's Pizza.
    
Downtown business patrons can donate a dollar for a cutout heart and write what they love about Wausau on it.
    
The businesses then put the hearts on display.
    
River District leaders said it's a fun way to support downtown.

"The whole idea is that hopefully you walk through the river district throughout the month of February and you really just feel the love," said Elizabeth Brodek, Executive Director of the Wausau River District. "You know, you feel that Valentine to Wausau from the heart of Wausau."

Dozens of hearts are already on display at various businesses in the area. Brodek said that some businesses have already run out of hearts, prompting the Wausau River District to order thousands more.
    
Each dollar donated goes to the Wausau River District.
    
The hearts will be available throughout February.

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Spreading the love with the 'Heart of Wausau'

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By:  WSAW Staff

Valentines Day is just around the corner which means sharing the love through written words.

To tell us how residents can share their love for the city of Wausau, Elizabeth Brodek from the Wausau River District joined the Sunrise 7 team.

Starting on February 1st, residents will be able to purchase heart valentines from participating business in downtown Wausau to share what they love about the area.

It's a Valentine from Wausau to Wausau!

Each valentine costs $1 and will be hung for display by the business. 
A complete list of participating business will be announced the River District's Facebook page.

The money raised will go to support programs and research projects conducted by the Wausau River District.

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Mild winter weather draws thousands to downtown Wausau for 2018 Winter Fest

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By:  Kevin Carr at WSAW

Mild temperatures, lots of sunshine and plenty of activities brought thousands out for Wausau's 7th annual Winter Fest.

Once per year in late January, families like the Boehnens help turn the 400 Block into a popular destination teeming with thousands of people.

"We have kids and it's a fun thing to get out when it has been really cold and really icy and stuff," Nathan Boehnen said.

Whether it's taking a slide down a sculpture carved out of snow, skating around the rink or taking a carriage ride, it's a way for kids and families to have fun - even if they aren't much of winter enthusiasts.

"It's nice to have something that's a little more middle ground for a family like us," Wendy Boehnen said.

"We definitely wanted to find something where we could bring people out of their houses in the winter when it's kind of a slow time," Wausau Events Executive Directpr Sara Hujar added.

There's also weight pulling, where dogs are capable of tugging thousands of pounds in the snow.

Steve Gatzow of Watertown says the sport is fun, and gives his huskies some extra exercise. But it's getting to meet families and their little ones that makes coming to Winter Fest more special.

I"'m a people person, and like to get out there and associate with people, especially children around," Gatzow explained.

Those that get cold can head inside where lively music and hot mac n' cheese help case some of the chill away. With good food, good music, and plenty of family activities, all in all, it's just a taste of why Winterfest continues to be a hit in the Wausau area.

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200 sculptures and counting; crew transforms snow pile in downtown Wausau

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By: Erin Freiderich at WSAW

The final preparations for this year's Winter Fest snow slide are being completed in Wausau.

A team of carvers transformed a massive pile of snow into an impressive piece of art at Wausau's 400 Block.

Tom Queoff is the team's captain.

“We call ourselves Team USA. We've been together for 33 years. We've carved over 200 snow sculptures, maybe more. We've been in competitions all over the world and I guess we're going to keep carving for a few more years,” he said.

Carving began Wednesday and will finished Friday.

Not only will this be a fun sculpture to look at, it will also be free for kids to take a slide down as part of the Winter Fest festival.

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Streetwise: Compass eyeing vacant Sears, bistro a labor of love

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By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

A downtown business is giving artists the chance to share their work with the community, and Compass Properties may be taking over the development of the vacant Sears space attached to Wausau Center mall. 

Streetwise is the Wausau Daily Herald's business news, keeping you updated on new stores, restaurants and other businesses you should know about. Each week we collect the local business news here to give you a quick rundown of what's happening in your community. 

At first glance, the building at 319 Fourth St. seems a little plain. 

It's a small, gray building, right across from the old Filmore theater building, with a sign hanging outside that reads "319 Gallery & Bistro." 

But inside, jewelry dangles from hangers, photos and paintings adorn the walls. In some places, sculptures take up floor space. It's a warm, inviting boutique selling handmade art. 

The 319 Galley and Bistro is the result of a dream three friends had more than five years ago. They wanted to offer a space for local artists to display their works, with an eye for art that might be excluded from other local galleries, giving more local artists the opportunity to show off their work to more than just friends and family. 

A prominent downtown developer has a proposal to redevelop the vacant Sears building in the Wausau Center mall. 

The Sears store closed in August 2016 and the city purchased the site later that year. In December 2016, the city OKed a plan by Eau Claire-based Micon Cinemas to put a movie theater in the spot, but those plans fell apart in 2017 after Micon and the mall owner Rialto Capital Management did not reach an agreement relating to a the wall the mall shares with the store. That left the city seeking to regroup and find a new way forward, either for the theater or another developer. 

On Jan. 18, the city's Economic Development Committee spent more than an hour in closed session before emerging to announce interest in the space from Compass Properties, the downtown landlord and developer of The Palladian condiminiums and other projects. City officials declined to discuss what Compass's proposal entailed and whether Micon Cinemas would still be involved with a new proposal.

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Downtown developer Compass Properties shows interest in vacant Sears space

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By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

 A prominent downtown developer has a proposal to redevelop the vacant Sears building in the Wausau Center mall. 

The Sears store closed in August 2016 and the city purchased the site later that year. In December 2016, the city OKed a plan by Eau Claire-based Micon Cinemas to put a movie theater in the spot, but those plans fell apart in 2017 after Micon and mall owner Rialto Capital Management did not reach an agreement relating to the wall the mall shares with the store. That left the city seeking to regroup and find a new way forward, either for the theater or another developer.

On Thursday night, the city's Economic Development Committee spent more than an hour in closed session before emerging to announce interest in the space from Compass Properties, the downtown landlord and developer of The Palladian condominiums and other projects. City officials declined to discuss what Compass's proposal entailed and whether Micon Cinemas would still be involved with a new proposal. 

Micon Cinemas did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

Compass Properties has a strong foothold in the downtown area and owns of many Third Street's storefront buildings. Recently, Compass purchased the H.T. Cobblery building on the corner of Jefferson Street and Third Street, with plans to turn it into a multi-level apartment building with retail space on the first floor. 

Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke said after Thursday's meeting that the idea for the development of the Sears property is still in its early stages, and there are still details to work out. 

"There will be a possible theater discussion," he said. "But it's too early to say." 

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Future of Sears Building to be revisited

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By:  WSAU

The former Sears building in Downtown Wausau could have another life as a movie theater after all.

The Economic Development Committee will meet Thursday night to discuss the latest proposal to for the space, which is owned by the city.

City Economic Development Director Chris Schock talked about the matter last Tuesday during the regular city council meeting, saying there had been positive momentum from the owners of the Wausau Center Mall, MICON, and “the potential developers who are interested.”

Thursday's meeting will be in closed session. According to the agenda the committee will have “Discussion and possible action on redevelopment options related to a proposed cinema theater and developer partners.”

According to the agenda posting the closed session is for the purpose of negotiating the purchase of public properties, investing of public funds, or conducting other specified public business. The committee will also discuss phase 2 of the Wausau marketing and awareness project in closed session.

Original plans called for Eau Clare based MICON Cinemas to build a ten screen theater in the space. The city owns the land the Sears building sits on, however Center Mall management still has a say in the matter because the buildings share a wall.

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I work on YPWeek events because they helped build my connection to Wisconsin

By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

In the meeting, I sat completely still, staring at the little, colorful pieces of paper that hung in lines on the wall of the YWCA Wausau building in downtown.

Each paper carried the name of a possible event and the name of a young professional who will be in charge of overseeing it, making sure it goes off without a hitch during YPWeek at the end of April. We have about 12 weeks to pull it off.

I couldn't help but be overwhelmed. I was part of the group that planned 16 events during the 2017 YPWeek in Wausau, and I thought that was a lot of work. There were a lot more than 16 little colored papers hanging on the wall now. But as I listened to the planners who came up with these events chatter behind me, that feeling was replaced with feelings of optimism, of pride in our community and excitement to start planning the best YPWeek Wausau has ever seen. 

I know there are others across the state that are currently doing the same thing. I have friends in Milwaukee planning events. There are people in Madison bringing together different groups of young professionals to make a cohesive movement. On the shores of Lake Superior, several city and county groups are preparing to join the movement for the first time this April. It's not just Wausau on this boat. 

YPWeek is a week of planning and programming for young professionals (hence the Y and P) that usually populates the final week of April. The movement was started in 2012 in Milwaukee by the company Newaukee, which aims to change the ways that people connect with each other and their city. It started spreading to other communities in 2015. The goal was to provide a "week-long series of events focused on discovery, adventure and meaningful conversations about the issues that matter to young professionals," according to a post from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which helps to sponsor the week

I got involved with YPWeek last year. I helped to co-chair the week for Wausau, overseeing the planners and the events that they put together in our community. It required some long days, some missed sleep and the carrying of boxes of T-shirts up a lot of stairs. I think I slept for like a day and a half after it was over. 

Why would I want to put myself through that again? Because YPWeek is a big reason I'm still in Wisconsin. When I moved here nearly two years ago, I didn't know anyone and had almost no connection to Wausau other than my job. I spent the first months of my time here at home, watching Netflix and planning my move out of Wisconsin. But thankfully, a friend encouraged me to get involved with YPWeek, and more broadly with the community, and here I still am. 

So why put myself through this again? Not only was YPWeek fun, but I also made connections. I started to see the highlights of the community, and all the challenges to be conquered.

David Harris and Lucy-Ann Muabe socialize during the Young Professionals of Manitowoc County Sip, Sample and Socialize event at the Artist's Lofts Wednesday, Apr. 26, 2017, in Manitowoc. (Photo: Josh Clark/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

And I'm still involved with YPWeek, and all the work it entails, because I truly believe that it's accomplishing something in Wisconsin. It's giving young professionals a sense of Wisconsin as a place, connecting them to their communities, to a larger statewide network and to friends, which, let's face it, are pretty important to being happy. 

Young people are the next generation of workers, taking leadership roles and making decisions. It's pretty cool to see an investment in those people, a chance to make their voices heard and their creativity seen. 

Those colorful pieces of paper hanging on the wall at the YWCA represent more than just events and the work to come. They represent someone's desire to make our community more welcoming, more fun and passionate. 

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Martin Luther King Jr. dinner highlights efforts to improve unity in Wausau

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By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Members of the Wausau community came together Monday night to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. 

About 130 people gathered at the YWCA Wausau in downtown to celebrate the memory of the man who worked to create a more unified country, while sharing pieces of different cultures in the community. 

The evening started with a dinner of comfort foods such as mac and cheese, vegetables and fried chicken, and then members of the community spoke about issues of equality when it comes to race. After the speakers, the band Unified Soul played music while attendees danced.

It's an event that's been happening in the community for about five years, said organizer Kate Gaines of NAOMI, an organization that strives to eliminate inequality in the area. It was the first time that the dinner event was able to host so many people, she said. 

"This year we wanted to make this a community collaboration," Gaines said. 

NAOMI worked alongside People for the Power of Love, the YWCA Wausau, the Women's Community and the Unity Project to make the event a possibility. 

Gaines said the event was meant to showcase the art, music and passion of community members, and an opportunity to bring all people in the community together to remember the man with a strong message of peace and equality. 

"Martin Luther King Jr. has a legacy, and it's a mission that we still need to work on," Gaines said. "We need to continue the work." 

At the end of the event, Anahkwet, the Menominee Nation Organizer, stood to say a prayer, but first asked everyone to take the message of King into their everyday lives. 

"Yes, we have a lot of work to do," he said. "But the only way it gets done is together." 

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Streetwise: Game Stop leaving mall, Grand Theater ranked No. 5

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Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The Grand Theater makes it into national rankings for yet another year, Game Stop is leaving Wausau Center and city streets will soon see Wausau's first "pedal pub." 

Streetwise is the Wausau Daily Herald's business news, keeping you updated on new stores, restaurants and other businesses you should know about. Each week we collect the local business news here to give you a quick rundown of what's happening in your community. 

Here's the latest: 

Wausau's Grand Theater ranked in top five of theater venues worldwide

The Grand Theater has taken the No. 5 spot in a worldwide ranking of top theater venues. 

The downtown Wausau theater took the spot in a ranking by the trade publication Pollstar, in a category of theaters with a capacity under 1,300. 

According to a press release from The Grand, the theater also went from being ranked 174 out of all venues worldwide to 143, the first time the theater has even broken into the top 150 in the Pollstar rankings. The rankings put the Grand Theater among venues like the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis, the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Overture Hall in Madison and Riverside Theater in Milwaukee also made the list. 

Starting this spring, Wausau residents and visitors will be able to pedal the streets while sipping on beer and wine on a quadricycle. 

Wausau Spokeeasy is the first company to bring a "pedal pub" to Wausau's city limits, allowing groups of up to 14 people to enjoy a ride and a drink or two, Dan Dadabo said. 

The company launched this winter, taking bookings for as soon as March when the weather will start making a turn for warmer. Even if the temperature remains chilly, though, the bike has the ability to be enclosed and heated with a small heater, said Dadabo. 

The Game Stop location will close on Jan. 20, according to management member, James Theobald. 

Theobald said that the store, which has been in the mall for about 20 years, consistently hits sales goals and performs well, and attributes the closing to a dying mall culture across the nation. 

The Greenheck Group, one of the largest employers in the Wausau area, has promoted five men as a part of a new company organization structure. 

"Tim Kilgore, Dave Kallstrom, Aaron Gotham, Rich Totzke and Scott Graf have been promoted to enhance The Greenheck Group's winning ways in all entities and target markets," President & CEO James McIntyre said in announcing the moves. "These strong and experienced leaders will assume new leadership responsibilities and help guide our future success." 

Greenheck, which manufactures and sells commercial heating and cooling systems, has 3,300 employees globally including 2,100 in Wisconsin. In addition to its local plants, the company has facilities in Kentucky, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Mexico and India.

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Wausau Spokeeasy, city's first 'pedal pub,' to hit roads this spring

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By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Starting this spring, Wausau residents and visitors will be able to pedal the streets while sipping on beer and wine on a quadricycle. 

Wausau Spokeeasy is the first company to bring a "pedal pub" to Wausau's city limits, allowing groups of up to 14 people to enjoy a ride and a drink or two, said Dan Dadabo. 

The company launched this winter, taking bookings for as soon as March, when the weather will start making a turn for warmer. Even if the temperatures remain chilly, though, the bike has the ability to be enclosed and heated with a small heater, said Dadabo.

The Spokeeasy has been months in the making for Dadabo. He's been working closely with the city and the Wausau Police Department to ensure there are no safety concerns, and that the routes the bike, which moves about 4 to 5 miles per hour, will take won't cause traffic backups. 

"The city has been fantastic," Dadabo said. "(They've) been really open to growing the business." 

The company just purchased its first bike, which is about two years old, from a "pedal pub" company in North Carolina. The bike will allow as many as eight to 14 riders to sit and pedal, as well as a hired driver and another hired worker that will ensure all riders are staying safe. The company is currently hiring for the summer season. 

Of course, there will be rules for the pedal-powered pub, like no glass containers or hard liquor. Up to 36 ounces of beer and wine will be allowed per person, and no one who is visibly intoxicated will be able to start a ride on the pub. Riders must wear appropriate footwear and remain on the quadricycle while it's in motion, Dadabo said. Overall, though, he expects the rides to be safe as long as riders comply. 

Dadabo is currently in the process of working out a few different routes for The Spokeeasy, one along the riverfront and one around The 400 Block. Both will start at the new Central Time Distillery in the Wausau train depot, 713 Grant St. He's hoping to work with local businesses, so that riders can stop and visit different restaurants and bars along their route. 

Dadabo said he believes that his new business will only enhance downtown's developments. 

"We're excited for what's to come," he said. "It brings a ton of potential to downtown." 

Rides on the quadricycle will start at $35 for a single rider on a mixer ride and a private tour for eight to 14 people will run $375 for two hours. All taxes and fees are included in the ride price. For more information or to book a tour, visit www.wausauspokeeasy.com

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Downtown churches, businesses meet to discuss the future of the River District

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By Emily Boyer with WSAW

The churches of downtown Wausau, want a new recognition-- one that involves business. Religious leaders and business owner met to discuss how they can accomplish that.

Reverend Phillip Schneider of St. Paul's Church of Christ said the churches bring inherent value to downtown Wausau through their charitable works.

In a traditional sense, churches provide help for the homeless, food for food pantries, and a place of safety for those in need.

As the businesses in the River District change, religious leaders in downtown increasingly want to be more involved with how the River District plans to move forward.

Reverend Phillip Schneider has been active in discussion with the Wausau River District organization and he’s hoping more churches come to the table with their own ideas.

“Historically, churches have been a big part of the downtown business area for many years. And if you look, there's a lot of downtown churches. So, it’s important to be engaged in those conversations that are happening that are current and relevant so we as churches can be current and relevant," Rev. Schneider said.

Executive Director of the Wausau River District, Elizabeth Brodek recognized their proposal for action and said it’s always been about how the parts work as a whole.

"This is the heart of our community-- all of those business and entities working together and mixing together makes a very eclectic, woven fabric that we see as the thriving heartbeat of downtown," she said.

Four out of the eight churches in the River District said they support the partnership and discussions with businesses.

Slowly the perception and money making opportunities in downtown are changing--while that seems like something that happens on its own,
its actually-in part-due to religious leaders and business owners meetings and actions. 

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Mild temperatures draw people outdoors

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By Neena Pacholke at WAOW

Many people stepped outside Sunday to enjoy the bread in the frigid forecast.

One man in Wausau said he's thrilled to be outdoors again.

"It's pleasant to get outside, you can take a breath without your nose tingling," Dennis Mueller, of Kronenwetter, said. "[My wife and I] might take a walk, we like to do a lot of walking we haven't really walked much these last couple weeks it's just been too cold. But today might be a good day to talk a walk. It's nice and sunny and there's no Packers to watch of course. 

Some were seen outside on Wausau's 400 block ice skating, walking their dogs, or simply enjoying each other's company outdoors. 

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ZipRecruiter names Wausau among top job markets for 2018 Jobs Site Ranks Wausau Among Top Job Markets

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By Kevin Carr with WSAW

A national online jobs platform is putting Wausau in the spotlight.

ZipRecruiter compiled its list of the top ten job markets across the country for 2018. Wausau ranks ninth on the list. 10 different factors were looked at, including industry diversity, affordability, ease of commute, and unemployment.

Wausau's Planning, Community, and Economic Development Director Christian Schock said he's not entirely surprised at the ranking.

"It's really a testament to obviously the city's partnership with our employers to expand and to invest in Wausau as a whole," Schock said.

That partnership, in addition to expanding infrastructure, and investing in quality of life project, like the city's riverfront, are important to helping attract talent to Wausau, which in turn helps employers, Schock explained.

"All of those elements provide the kind of vitality that Wausau would need to remain competitive with our peer communities."

ZipRecruiter's chief economist Cathy Barrera said the commute around Wausau helped land the city on the list.

"In particular, we took a look at walk-ability and public transport, using Walk Score's 2017 rating, and Wausau scored very high," Barrera explained.

She also points out to its recent unemployment numbers.

"For October 2017, the unemployment rate was 2.5 percent," Barrera said. "The national average is considerably higher at 4.1 percent."

But staying competitive takes work. The city says retaining talent will be important, as well as continuing to build and invest for the future.

"To stay in the area that you grew up," Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke said. "I don't want to lose those people. Those are the ones for the future of our city."

"We always need to do more, and it's because our peer competition is doing more," Schock said. "They're investing in their urban water fronts. They're building downtown housing, they're attracting new employers, and that's what we're doing too."

Oshkosh also made ZipRecruiter's top ten job markets list for 2018, landing at the number three spot. Fargo, North Dakota was named as the best job market in the U.S.

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Home remodeling company Tundraland to bring 30 jobs to downtown Wausau

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By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

A Wisconsin-based remodeling company will soon open a new location in downtown Wausau. 

Tundraland Home Improvements will open a showroom and design center at 305 Third St. by the end of January, according to a press release from the company. The center is being opened to meet the rising demand for the company's bath and window divisions. 

The company is based out of Kaukauna, and sells only American-made products, specializing in bath remodeling, replacement windows and deck construction, according to the release. The company was drawn to opening a location in Wausau because of the city's passion and culture. 

"The Wausau community aligns with Tundraland's core values of giving back through outlets such as art and music," said Brian Gottlieb, the company president and owner. "The Wausau area showcases (its) unique culture through numerous areas of their community and is the type of area we want to bring jobs to." 

The company expects to hire 30 employees in the area immediately, and to add 30 more over the next 12 months. 

The space Tundraland is filling once belonged to Kidz Closet, a children's consignment shop, which closed in January 2017. 

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Wausau looks to implement new and improved parking system for downtown

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By:   Amber Luckett  at WSAW

The city of Wausau will be revamping its metered parking system to make parking a little more convenient for people heading downtown. The city stared looking to a parking payment app after a parking study to improve the city's parking was conducted back in 2014.

The city will implement a new system using the Passport Parking app. The app allows drivers to pay for downtown parking, in metered spaces as well as parking lots and ramps, from their smartphones free of charge.

The app would also provide digital parking permits for those looking to purchase annual and monthly passes. Maryanne Groat the city's Director of Fiances said updates will also be made to certain meters and parking kiosks will be installed so users can still pay with cash and credit card if they don't want to use the app.

"Right now there is zoned parking where people can park for one hour or two hours free. Right now there are no formal plans to change that," said Groat.

The city hopes the changes will make Wausau a more progressive place to live. The new system is expected to be up and running by 2019.

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MAIN STREET IS FAR FROM DEAD

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By:  The Laconia Daily Sun

Teens of the '80s may recall shiny new shopping malls as the hot place for hanging out, their food courts the cafe society of adolescence. These chain-store palaces knocked off local mom and pop retailers one by one, turning their downtown habitat into drab places for the poor and dysfunctional.

Now online commerce is knocking off the malls, but guess what. Not only is downtown retail coming back but also the stores are proving themselves to be among the fittest of the bricks-and-mortar survivors.

Wausau, Wisconsin, for example, has not one vacant storefront in the entire downtown shopping area. The Wall Street Journal singled out Wausau as an important case study because it is America's most middle-class city. People there spend 30 percent more than the national average. Sales tax collections in the county are up 20 percent since 2011.

So wallets in Wausau are definitely open. But stores are fleeing the Wausau Center, a local mall at the city's edge. The mall's owner walked away as his tenants — Sears, J.C. Penney, Payless ShoeSource and such — closed their doors. (Dying malls are especially numerous in the rural Midwest, where distances to them make the trips even less appealing.)

What's happening? Like consumers everywhere, the people of Wausau now do a lot of their shopping online. And they will make pilgrimages to warehouse stores — Costco and Sam's Club — for their two dozen rolls of paper towels. But they also are likelier to patronize smaller stores offering unusual items, personal attention and proximity to other downtown excitement.

The venerable Janke Book Store in Wausau is apparently doing very well, as are other independent bookstores. The number of independent bookstores nationally has jumped by over 30 percent since 2009, according to the American Booksellers Association.

Books are the easiest thing to buy online, but these intimate stores provide the added value of local authors, games, greeting cards and recommendations. And however speedily Amazon can whisk a book to my front door, only the bookstore offers instant gratification.

Successful bookstores make the most of their reputations as "third places," places to go other than home or work. They provide community in the form of book readings, and the ones for children are often jammed.

I prefer real stores for my clothes, and not because I haven't tried buying them online. What happens online is that the item idealized in the photo doesn't resemble what comes in the box. What size to order is anybody's guess.

I know, I know. Things can be returned, but that requires taking additional steps. So when an item arrives that's just a bit off, I keep it, figuring a return is not worth the hassle. In the end, I'm stuck with something that I would not have bought at a store.

Downtown retailers know to display merchandise you can't get clicking on Amazon. And there's another category — things you never knew existed but that, once eyed, become absolute, positive must-haves.

What will the retailing future bring? Drones dropping sets of barbecue utensils on the back deck? Three-D gadgets taking your measurement? Robots programmed to assess one's mood and have access to a databank of past purchases? Not exactly "The Shop Around the Corner."

I recall watching one of the "Home Alone" movies years ago at a multiplex in some cavernous mall. There's this scene where little Kevin McAllister finds magic in the window of an old-fashioned toy store nestled in a downtown streetscape. Here was a dream version of Main Street America, not unlike the real one that stood largely abandoned a few miles away.

They've tried to kill Main Street, but no luck yet.

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