Senator Petrowski receives heart association Legislator of the Year award


By Jerel Ballard of WSAW

On May 19th, 2018, Republican State Senator, Jerry Petrowski, was recognized at the annual Wausau Heart Walk for his continuing contributions for health awareness. 

After helping pass the Dispatcher Assisted CPR Law in April, the American Heart Association awarded Senator Petrowski with a Heart Association, Legislator of the Year award. Before the three-mile walk around the downtown Wausau area, Senator Petrowski was called to the stage to accept the award. 

"It's always an honor to be recognized for work especially on issues that pertain to saving lives,” shared Petrowski. “The real heroes in all of this is everyone here. People that pull together in that same direction to save lives,” Senator Petrowski added. 

The Dispatcher Assisted CPR Law requires dispatchers to be trained in CPR so they are certified to walk people through the process over the phone or in person.

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Wausau hosts 'Downtown Open House'


By Victoria Saha with WAOW

Community members were able to explore downtown Wausau Saturday afternoon and learn a little bit of the history behind it.

'Downtown Open House' is a state wide event to showcase the unique historical assets in downtown.

Participating community members get a list of various businesses to visit.

Organizers said it was a way for residents to get a different look of their town.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for community members to go into a building which they may have been walking past for years," said Blake Opal- Wahoske the executive director of Wausau River District. "To learn what the business offers and the history behind it."

There were 12 different establishments that participated. 

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Tundraland opens in downtown Wausau


By Melissa Langbehn, Anchor, Multimedia Journalist

WAUSAU (WAOW)- About 60 new jobs are expected to be added to the Wausau  area because of a downtown business expansion.

Tundraland began a grand opening celebration on Friday.

The Wausau showroom on Third Street is the Wisconsin-based company's fourth location.

"We wanted to come to Wausau for a long time.  One of the things we love about this community is the focus on the art and and music. That fits right into our wheelhouse.  After all if you take away those things in the city all you have is sidewalks and parking meters," Tundraland President Brian Gottlieb said.

The company president also presented a $25,000 check to Wausau Events and $19,500 to the Wausau River District.

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Streetwise Wausau: A new wedding venue, unregulated water use and Tundraland opens

Image by Laura Schulte

Image by Laura Schulte

By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Pay a visit to downtown Wausau's newest home remodeling store on Friday, and you might just get a gift card, too. 

In honor of its grand opening on Friday, Tundraland Home Improvements will offer a $25 restaurant gift card giveaway for the first 100 customers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, according to a press release from the Wisconsin-based home remodeling company, which focuses on windows, bathrooms and outdoor porches.

The company will also contribute funds to two downtown organizations to help them further their missions of planning events in and around the downtown area. Tundraland is donating $25,000 to Wausau Events and $19,500 to the Wausau River District.

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Explore downtown Wausau's most historical sites


By Stacia Kulakowski of WSAW

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- This weekend, you can explore some of Wausau's most significantly historical sites and learn all about places right here in our community. 

"Downtown Open House is a celebration of Wausau's architectural, cultural, and social history," explained Executive Director for the Wausau River District, Blake Opal-Wahoske. "Some of downtown Wausau's most historic and culturally significant places will open their doors to the public." 

Opal-Wahoske said that an event like this is important to hold, because often times, members of the community walk past these buildings without even knowing about their past or cultural significance. 

"This is an opportunity to learn more about each location from experts," Opal-Wahoske mentioned. 

The following buildings will be open and free for tours to the public during the event: 
Andrew Warren Historical District
Center for the Visual Arts
Downtown Grocery
First Universalist Unitarian Church of Wausau
Marathon County Historical Society
St. John's Episcopal Church
St. Paul's United Church of Christ
St. Stephen Lutheran Church
Stewart Inn
Wausau Center Mall
Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art
Yawkey House Museum

Experts will be inside each locations to give in-depth information about each location. 

The open house occurs on Saturday May 19 from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m. 

Maps are available at the Marathon County Historical Society, and the event is free.

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Painted piano on display in Wausau

By WSAW Staff 

A Local art gallery is going to be adding a pop of color to its garden soon.

Desiree Spoores, the gallery artist at 319 Gallery and Bistro in downtown Wausau, has been painting a piano to be added to the gallery's garden this summer.

Currently, the piano is on display in front of Colossal Fossils in the Wausau Center Mall.

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New Tundraland store in downtown Wausau to hold gift card giveaway on opening weekend


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Pay a visit to downtown Wausau's newest home remodeling store on Friday, and you might just get a gift card, too. 

In honor of its grand opening on Friday, Tundraland Home Improvements will offer a $25 restaurant gift card giveaway for the first 100 customers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, according to a press release from the Wisconsin-based home remodeling company, which focuses on windows, bathrooms and outdoor porches.

The company will also contribute funds to two downtown organizations to help them further their missions of planning events in and around the downtown area. Tundraland is donating $25,000 to Wausau Events and $19,500 to the Wausau River District, said public relations representative Raquel Lamal. 

Tundraland is known in other cities to invest in art and music, like in Appleton, where it sponsors the Mile of Music festival. 

The community will have the chance to celebrate the opening and donations on Friday, as well as meet with designers to get started on their own home projects.

"This celebration is about being a part of the community we serve," said Brian Gottlieb, president and owner of Tundraland, in the release. "Wausau is known for its community feel with a focus on family, arts and music and we look forward to playing an active role in furthering that growth." 

Tundraland is opening at 305 Third St. in downtown, in the former Kidz Closet storefront. Construction and remodeling for the showroom and design center has been ongoing since early 2018. This is Tundraland's fourth location in Wisconsin, the release said. 

The new store is expected to employ around 60 employees, including builders, designers, sales people and marketers, according to the release. 

The store will open at 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, staying open until 8 p.m. On Sunday, hours will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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Wausau-area first responders participate in photo shoot fundraiser

By:  News Watch 12

 Dozens of officers came together in downtown Wausau on Monday, but not because of an emergency. A special workshop brought police officers, firefighters, and EMS crews together for a photo shoot. 

"This is so awesome," said After Dark photography mentor Dan Davis.

After Dark Education, a photography workshop, was held with a little help from law enforcement.

"The police, and the bomb squad, and the fire department, doing some really cool stuff," said Davis. "We're hoping water hoses are going to fly and we don't destroy any camera equipment in the process." 

Various Wausau-area first responder agencies created mock scenarios for photography students to capture, but this After Dark event wasn't just so photographers could improve their craft.

"Today is special because we're here for a charity event," said Brian DeMint, another After Dark mentor. 

Some of the photos taken will be used in a calendar. Proceeds will go to EMPD Blue Hearts, an organization that supports law enforcement officers and their families. 

"That really hits home, we're really humbled by that support from this photography community," said Wausau firefighter Bob Rode.

Working together was a unique experience for the photographers and first responders.

"It's really neat to kind of work hand in hand a little bit with them. We're coming from a different angle from more artistic backgrounds but try to find that, what works for them in a realistic environment," said Davis.

"Always fun learning, learning something new, so we had a great time," said Rode.

A great time, that should create a great product.

"They should get some phenomenal shots and the calendar should be outrageously good," said DeMint.

"It's really going to be fun, it's going to be a really cool thing," said Davis. 

This particular workshop was titled "After Dark 1274." The 1274 represented Everest Metro Police Detective Jason Weiland's badge number. Weiland lost his life while responding to the Wausau shootings last year. 

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Photographers donate time to capture first responder memories

By:  By Emma Henderson at WSAW

Dozens of Wausau first responders and about 100 photographers took over the 400 Block in Wausau on Monday.

The goal was to get some photos for not only the departments, but an organization formed after the March 22 shootings last year.

The Everest Metro Police Department Blue Hearts is an organization designed to help local law enforcement, their families and honor fallen officers nationwide.

David Junion, a professional photographer out of Weston, helped stage the shoot as part of a national photographer’s workshop called After Dark Education. Junion’s goal is to make calendars with some of the photos to raise money for EMPD Blue Hearts.

"We want to support law enforcement you know because they were out there on the front lines doing all the hard work for us,” said Brian DeMint, a mentor with After Dark Education. "Some of the photographers that are here, the mentors are some of the best in the United States in their field and some of the attendees are some of the better photographers as well."

Different departments like the bomb squad, the Wausau Fire Department, S.W.A.T, snipers and the K-9 Unit had their own stations.

Handler Dan D’Acquisto worked with his K-9 partner to capture the perfect image. D’Acquisto says it wasn’t just fun, it was also a chance for Monty to get some extra training while being in the community.

The daughters of Everest Metro Police Detective Jason Weiland, who was killed in the March 22 shootings, also took part. They say they loved getting involved in the shoot, and enjoyed working with David Junion.

"He's very energetic and pretty hyper and it was pretty funny, it was pretty hard to keep a straight face,” Anna Weiland said.

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Wausau earns Wisconsin Main Street Award


By:  Wausau Pilot & Review

Wausau has earned a Wisconsin Main Street Award for its Wausome River District Video campaign.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. named the best downtown revitalization projects of 2017 on Friday at the 27th Wisconsin Main Street Awards held at Ripon College.

“All across the state, those involved in the Wisconsin Main Street Program are making a real difference in improving their downtowns by developing new and innovative ways to attract visitors and support local businesses,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, in a news release. “These awards recognize the organizations and dedicated individuals whose efforts not only benefit their communities, but also set the standard for other Main Street communities statewide.”

Wisconsin Main Street is a community development program administered by WEDC that targets Wisconsin’s historic commercial districts. WEDC provides technical support and training to the 33 Main Street communities to help them revitalize their business districts.

Among this year’s winners are:

Best Adaptive Reuse Project

Co-Winner: City Service Brewing – Darlington
Co-Winner: Kickapoo Coffee – Viroqua

Best Business Recruitment & Retention Initiative

Winner: Downtown Kenosha Retail Strategy Team & Façade Grant Program -Kenosha

Best Business Success Story

Winner: Los Amigos Restaurant & Market-Carlos & Carolina Vasquez – Platteville

Best Cooperative Business Marketing

Winner: Whiskey Tasting Event – Osceola

Best Creative Fundraising

Winner: Viroqua Chamber Main Street Membership Drive – Viroqua

Best Façade Rehab Over $10,000

Winner: Mally Building of Kitchen & Floor Décor – Rice Lake
Honorable Mention: Thomas Rogers/APO-231-33 Watson Rear Facade – Ripon

Best Façade Rehab Under $10,000

Winner: Sandra D’s Bridal Boutique – Watertown

Best Image Campaign/Item/Event

Winner: Wausome River District Video – Wausau
Honorable Mention: Omro Historic Walking Tour & Open House – Omro

Best Interior Renovation Over $50,000

Winner: Sepia Chapel – Two Rivers

Best Interior Renovation Under $50,000

Winner: Jewelry by Christopher – Beloit

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The Ugly Mug brings a new coffee experience to downtown Wausau


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Coffee will be served with a new attitude at the Ugly Mug in downtown Wausau. 

The Ugly Mug, previously known as The Paisley Mug and Allister Deacon's before that, switched ownership earlier this year. It's now run by the brother-sister duo Tyler Vogt and Shannon Kozlowski, and their spouses, Stina Vogt and Drew Kozlowski. 

The former owner, Becky Hummer, wanted to move on from the business, Shannon Kozlowski said. Kozlowski had a love of coffee, a desire to run a downtown coffee shop and perfect timing. 

"I've wanted to run a coffee shop for quite some time, I'm a life-long coffee drinker," she said. 

The family also jokes that purchasing the shop was a surefire way to help Tyler Vogt achieve his New Year's resolution to drink more coffee.

Since taking over formally in March, the Vogts and the Kozlowskis have been hard at work transforming the small cafe. So far, they've started redecorating, changed up the menu and added bakery options. They've eliminated lunch options, as Tyler Vogt said they're streamlining the Ugly Mug's offerings so they can more effectively serve more customers. 

Focusing more on the coffee and beverage portion of the menu, will allow for new perks like a roasters menu, which will offer a selection of different coffees from local, national and international roasters, Vogt said. 

In addition to a large selection of coffee, the group plans to offer kombucha on tap, smoothies made from completely fresh ingredients, house-made bread and snacks, stuffed donuts and offerings for those who keep a gluten-free diet. 

The coffee shop will also offer customers the opportunity to be a part of their "mug club" by bringing their own ugly mug into the shop and leaving it on the display wall to use when they sit down for a cup of coffee or tea. The club will give customers access to special promotions and sales throughout the year, Tyler Vogt said. He also plans to roll out an app for the shop soon, too, which will allow customers to order ahead of time, collect points and earn rewards for use on coffee or food. 

Other changes will come to the coffee shop this summer and fall, such as expanded hours, new offerings of food and drink and more. But more than just enjoying a quick cup of coffee or a bite to eat between meetings, the group hopes that the shop will become a central point for the community. 

"We want it to be a social hub," Vogt said. "There's a lot going on in this little space." 

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Downtown Wausau Dining Week Restaurants say slow start on Monday won't affect overall success

By:  Emily Boyer at WSAW

 Participating Wausau Dining Week Restaurants took a hit on Monday during the kick off of the event when a major snow storm forced people to spend their day digging out rather than eating out.

Blake Opal-Wahokse said the storm did cause a lot of people to stay home and took a toll on profits for the day, but added that Monday was the best day it could have happened.

"Whenever we have a snow storm, things downtown slow down a little. But now that the weather has slowed down, business is picking up. Most people tend to come out on the weekends anyway and some restaurants are closed on Monday."

Now restaurants are preparing for a busy weekend. Opal-Wahokse said there is something for everyone-- even those who would rather enjoy their meal from home.

"If you don't have time to sit around at a restaurant for dinner, we do have a lovely option over at La Prima Deli where you can pick-up your entrees to-go, and then take them home and cook them at your own house"

There's still time to take advantage of the three-course meal options-- which comes at a discounted price. Downtown Wausau Dining Week ends on Friday the 20th after businesses close. For more information you can watch the videos at the top of this web page.

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Wausau Downtown Dining Week Returns on Monday


By Logan Wenger at WSAU

Downtown Wausau Dining Week is set to begin on Monday, April 16th. 

Blake Opal-Wahoske, Executive Director of the Wausau River District, explains what exactly will be going on during the event.

"Downtown Wausau Dining week is Wausau's favorite feast featuring three fixed course prices at a set price at ten of our downtown eateries," he said.

Opal-Wahoske also says this event has a great economic impact on the downtown area.

"By exposing people to new businesses, I think that benefits our downtown exponentially," Opal-Wahoske said. "But then, also, just the drum of economic impact this event has on our downtown is exponential."

Participating eateries will have a lunch menu ranging in price from $7-$15 and a dinner menu ranging from $12-$35.

The restaurants participating is this year's Downtown Wausau Dining Week are 319 Bistro, Back When Cafe, City Grill, Daly's, La Prima, J. Mumbo's, Jalapeno', Malarkey's/Townie's, Polito's, and Peking Restaurant. 

Those restaurants will also be serving their regular menu throughout the week and reservations usually aren't needed to attend. 

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Wausau's 'Spokeeasy' Pedal Pub open for business

By Stacia Kulakowski at WSAW

Their motto is, 'You don't exactly know what it is, but you know you want to try it," and that's exactly what many in the area are doing with the new 'Spokeeasy' Pedal Pub.

The 'Spokeeasy' is an eco-friendly, pedal-powered trolley that is used to make pub crawls throughout the Wausau area.

The bicycle can fit up to 14 people at a time, who all have to pedal in order to make the trolley move.

The rules are that riders have to bring their own beer, not glass or liquor, and have fun!

The pedal pub has two different routes that riders can choose from ranging from downtown Wausau to the riverfront area.

If you have a special occasion coming up, or would just like to give the bike a try, 

Watch the full story by clicking here.

Terradea Salon in downtown Wausau prepares to move, with help from city loan


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

 Terradea Salon will soon have a new home in downtown Wausau, but it won't move far. 

The salon, which is housed at 608 Third St., will jump to 614 Third St. in about a month, said co-owners Kelly McCarthy and Josh Hayes. The two have been renting Terradea's current space for about nine years but were ready for a more permanent location when the former Arts, Books & Banter building went up for sale last year, McCarthy said. 

"It was spur of the moment," she said. 

The sale went through in November, and since then, Hayes and McCarthy have been refurbishing the building to make it into a trendy salon, doing most of the work themselves. Admirers of the outside Tudor-style architecture need not worry. They plan to maintain the outside of the building, while they update windows and repair the roof. 

"It's a beautiful building," McCarthy said. "We love the downtown and feel lucky to own this building." 

The team will be helped in their renovation by a $76,000 commercial rehabilitation loan from the city. The Wausau Economic Development Committee voted Tuesday to give the loan to the salon owners to help them replace old electrical wiring within the building, as well as repair the outside. 

Once the salon makes the move, there will be a few changes to Terradea. There won't be as many spa services as the business now offers; instead the team and the business will focus mostly on hair, McCarthy said. Terradea also will upgrade its tools and equipment, including new massage chairs for customers to sit in while their hair is washed.

Terradea will remain an Aveda concept salon, however, meaning it will offer Aveda products for sale and use them during haircuts and styles, she said. 

Hayes and McCarthy told the Economic Development Committee that once the remodeling is finished and the salon is open in its new site, they intend to update the second level of the building to create a high-end apartment with an open concept floor plan available for rent. 

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Exhibitour wine, art event to return to downtown Wausau in October


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Get your traveling wine glasses ready, because Exhibitour is returning to downtown Wausau this fall. 

Exhibitour, which hasn't happened in downtown Wausau since 2012, is an event that opens up local downtown businesses as art galleries and allows participants to roam between them while enjoying wine on the walk. The event will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 5.

The event was originally put on hold in early 2013 because the event was in violation of several state statutes regarding alcohol and sales during events. But in 2016, those rules were changed, making it legal for stores to serve wine during a "wine walk" event during a set number of hours. The legislation made it possible to issue up to 20 wine-only licenses to participating stores, making it legal for them to serve wine. Legislation also changed to allow stores to sell items while the wine walk is ongoing. 

Exhibitour was started in 2005 by Tom Neal. Neal and his wife, Jane Neal, had recently moved to Wausau from Fort Worth, Texas, where they had lived in an arts district and enjoyed frequent art outings that often included browsing different galleries with glasses of wine. So he reached out to Wausau Events and the Wausau River District and brought the idea to life. Each year that Exhibitour was held, it drew thousands of participants, according to Neal. 

There will be changes to the reboot of the event this October, though the premise will stay the same. Attendees will have to pay for a wristband to be able to participate, though there isn't a set price yet, said Blake Opal-Wahoske, the interim executive director of the Wausau River District. And there may be a cap to how many attendees can participate, but organizers aren't sure about that factor yet. 

Other than that, participants will be able to see art mostly from local artists, placed in shops throughout the downtown, which will also offer wine and snacks. Neal said the event will help get new customers into downtown stores to enjoy not only wine and art, but the goods and services the shops offer. 

"It's a good way to start building your customer base," he said. "It's about networking and getting people into stores that have never been in before." 

Opal-Wahoske said that Exhibitour is an event that people have requested make a comeback in downtown, and he's happy that the River District can be a part of it. 

"There's always been interest," he said. "There's always been a need an a want to bring this back." 

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First Presbyterian Church plans to set up free health clinic in downtown Wausau


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

A new free medical clinic for those who can't afford health care may be coming to downtown Wausau.

The First Presbyterian Church, 406 Grant St., has proposed a free clinic in a portion of its basement, according to documents submitted to the city. The clinic would offer primary care services to uninsured and under-insured low-income residents in the area, especially the homeless. The clinic is the brainchild of Dr. Jeffrey Oswald, a family practitioner with the Marshfield Clinic. 

Oswald, who practices at Wausau's Stettin Center, said that after years of volunteering at The Salvation Army warming center, he felt moved to open a free clinic, a resource that the community didn't have. 

"Some people just weren't getting access to care," he said. 

Oswald began talking with The Salvation Army about using some of its space for a clinic, but there wasn't enough room in the building. That's when he turned to the community for ideas, and someone suggested the First Presbyterian Church in downtown. 

"They were enthusiastic about it from the start, and they had the space," he said. "It was never a question of whether they were going to do it." 

Since then, Oswald has been working closely with Jeff Todd and Chuck Schlitz, who are elders of the church, to finalize planning and find the perfect location in the church's large building. Though the clinic will be located in the church, patients will not be required to be a member of the church or subscribe to the beliefs of the church, Oswald said. 

The group settled on a portion of the basement, which has enough space for four exam rooms, a waiting room, large restrooms and storage, among other rooms necessary for a medical clinic, said Todd. 

"The church has been looking for a use for the space," he said. "We were more than happy to jump on board." 

Over the past several months, the team has been researching free clinics, talking with other professionals in the area and drawing up plans. The church has approval from the city for the clinic, but there's no set date as to when construction would begin or end. The team will have to raise money for construction and costs. 

Initially, according to the proposal, the clinic would offer acute treatment, meaning that patients would be treated for colds, the flu and minor injuries. According to plans, the clinic would operate two afternoons per month, from 2 to 6 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays, and the staff would be volunteer-only, Todd said. 

According to the proposal, the Marshfield Health System, Ascension Wisconsin North Central Region and the Marathon County Health Department have indicated their support for the clinic. 

Oswald said that the free clinic won't work against any of the other resources already available in the community, such as the Bridge Community Health Clinic or North Central Health Care. 

"We're really not trying to duplicate anything," he said. "We really want to collaborate." 

According to Katherine Gaulke, the executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, there are 90 clinics throughout the state that offer free services to communities, covering 60 counties. She said she's excited to see the potential addition of a clinic in Wausau. Although Bridge Clinic offers services to those with Medicaid in the city, there is still a gap of people who are unable to afford their own insurance but are above the threshold for help or might be waiting for health insurance to start after a waiting period at a new job, she said. 

"Folks who don't have access anywhere else will get help," she said. "It will save individuals thousands (of dollars) and save the health system and the community thousands." 

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Wine Walks may return to Wausau


By:  Michael Leischner at WSAU

The once-popular Wine Walks may soon become a staple of downtown Wausau once again.

The city Public Health and Safety Committee moved an ordinance on to the full council during their meeting Monday. The proposal cleans up language in a current city ordinance that would call for for special licenses to be granted allowing intoxicants to be consumed in a public right of way.

Committee chair and Council President Lisa Rasmussen said that when the city had previously allowed the wine walks, they were actually breaking state laws. "Other communities would call and say 'how is Wausau getting away with this?' Come to find out we were in violation. We never should have been giving those waivers in the first place."

The wine walks originally operated in the early 2000's but were stopped after the discrepancy with state law was discovered. Rasmussen said the city actually worked with the state to clean up the law that would allow for operators to bring the events back. "Communities are now able to grant event licenses specifically for wine walks. [It] creates an exception that allows those beverages to traverse the right-of-way."

Rasmussen said organizers were actually trying to put together an event in 2017 but couldn't make it happen. She says now that the legal red tape is cleared up it could come back this year if organizers can make it happen. "It was not a bad event, it just ran counter to state law."

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Elizabeth Brodek leaves Wausau River District after years of downtown revitalization


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

She brought a little more color, fun and excitement to downtown Wausau over the past three years, but Elizabeth Brodek's time in the city is coming to an end. 

Brodek, executive director of the Wausau River District, will leave her position on March 9 to become promotions and communications coordinator for the city of Eau Claire. Blake Opal-Wahoske, who is currently the assistant director will serve as interim director while the River District board looks for someone to fill the spot according to a press release from the organization.

The Wausau River District is a nonprofit organization that advocates for downtown businesses and organizations that make Wausau an appealing place to live in. The organization also helps to plan events highlighting the downtown area and all it has to offer. It's partially privately funded, and partially funded by the Business Improvement District. 

The board expects to hire a new director within 30 days, said president Joseph Mella.

"We're going to carry on the initiatives that have been implemented," Mella said. "But we're looking forward to the next chapter for the River District." 

Brodek started at the River District in December 2014, working to bring downtown businesses together and to plan events that bring the community into the central shopping district. The Wausau Daily Herald and United Way of Marathon County named Brodek one of their top "20 Under 40' honorees, and the Daily Herald identified her as a Person of the Year in 2017.

Her work in Wausau also has been honored by the National Main Street organization, which has nominated the community multiple times for its Great American Main Street Award. 

During her time as director, the Wausau River District has added programs such as First Thursdays, which brings visitors downtown for an evening of food and entertainment the first Thursday of each month during the summer; Downtown Dining Week, which creates a price-fixed menu at downtown restaurants so customers can sample different dishes; and Jazz on the River, which brought local jazz musicians to a new stage behind the Marathon County Public Library on Sundays last summer.

Brodek also helped to spearhead, along with Glass Hat tavern owner Gisy Marks, a competition that resulted in 18 murals painted on the city's north side, brightening a neighborhood that hadn't received much attention in recent years. 

Brodek, a native of Racine, said there are a lot of things she'll miss about the Wausau community, including the people she met and especially the outdoor recreation, like running at Fern Island. 

"There's a lot that I got to know and love," she said. 

She said the River District will be in good hands as the organization's board searches for her replacement. 

"Blake is going to bring new ideas in, and I couldn't be happier to hand the reins to him," she said. 

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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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