Downtown Wausau sees heavy foot traffic with return of popular Exhibitour event


By: Mitchell A. Skurzewski, Wausau Daily Herald

WAUSAU - People came downtown to enjoy art, each other's company, sip some wine and enjoy meandering through local businesses on Friday night. The Exhibitour event features local artists' works in downtown shops and at each stop there were snacks and wine available. Downtown businesses were turned into art galleries and were a great way for local artists to be recognized by a wide audience. 

Exhibitour, which hasn't happened in downtown Wausau since 2012, saw people buying paintings, enjoying wine and exploring downtown Wausau and the local businesses. It was a win-win, said local artist Judy Pliskie. 

"I am happy this event is back because it is great exposure for local artists and it brings people in to check out downtown businesses," Pliskie said. "It's good advertisement for everyone involved and gives people a nice night out."

Pliskie makes necklaces and jewelry that are one-of-a-kind items with no two being the same, she said. She has been making the jewelry, including custom pieces, for 13 years. Her necklaces were displayed at Evolutions by Design on Friday and they are available year-round at the downtown store. 

There were 21 downtown businesses that participated in the event, including La Prima, Downtown Grocery, Janke Bookstore and Jefferson Street Inn.

Wausau council approves parking kiosks purchase

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By: Michael Leischner WSAU

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -- The Wausau City Council cleared the final hurdle to implement the city's upcoming downtown parking changes on Wednesday.

Leaders unanimously approved spending $303,064 to purchase and install up to 10 payment kiosks to be located throughout downtown. The stations will replace the city's current fleet of parking meters, which are so old that the city can't find parts for them anymore.

"Later on in the fall all the equipment; the kiosks, signs everything associated with the changes that are coming was approved. Now it's official - it will be coming here in the fall," said Mayor Robert Mielke.

He adds that the response he's gotten to the changes has been largely positive. "Especially from business owners downtown and residents, a lot of this has been a long time coming. I do believe most people are going to be very pleased with the results when everything happens."

RELATED: Downtown parking changes coming to Wausau

The Police Department's parking enforcement division will not begin ticketing violators right away. Mielke says there will be a grace period of up to two months to allow residents and visitors to adjust. Additionally, residents will be given one free warning each year for violating the new rules.

"Yes, change is hard, and I know there are computers involved. It will take some education, but it will be a forgiving process for the first couple of months while this is being implemented," added Mielke.

Mielke says residents who are smartphone-savvy will also find convenience in the fact that the app that will be used to pay for parking is the same one already in use in several other cities statewide. "Oh gosh Stevens Point, Appleton, La Crosse all come to mind. I believe Eau Claire and Green Bay all use the same system, so they can utilize that service here like they would there too."

The Council held its regular August meeting on Wednesday due to the Wisconsin primary election on Tuesday.

Concerts on the Square Season Winding Down

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By: Liz Holbrook, WSAU

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -- Another Wednesday brings another Concert on the Square in the 400 block of downtown Wausau. Tonight's concert features The Last Revel a rockabilly folk string group.

Rockabilly may not be a genre of music that more modern audiences would find familiar. Executive Director of Wausau Events Sara Hujar explains the genre as, "It's really a blend of some rock and roll, a lot of rhythm and blues, and also some folk mixed in there,” She remarks that the band is really easy to listen to and a band to check out even if you don't know the music genre. 

But tonight’s concert is not just about music. Hujar spoke about how a local non-profit will also be a part of the concert experience. "We'll also have Blessings in a Backpack, a great local non-profit. They'll be collecting boxes of mac and cheese that they use for their program to stuff backpacks for children in need." Hujar recommends that those attending the concert bring a box of mac and cheese to donate if they're able. 

While the forecast for this week's concert is clear, there have been recent concerns about weather affecting the series. Hujar explains that concerts affected by weather are not able to be rescheduled. "Unfortunately everything with the contracts, we have to pay the bands on the days they are scheduled to perform."  The Concert on the Square season continues for two more weeks with Porky's Groove Machine on August 15th and Bumpus on August 22nd. 

Once the concert series is over Wausau Events will turn their focus to the Beer and Bacon Fest taking place in late September.

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Volunteers gear up for the 2018 Komen Central Wisconsin Race for the Cure


By: Melissa Langbehn of WAOW

WAUSAU (WAOW)-- Volunteers gathered at the Central Wisconsin Race for the Cure headquarters in the Wausau Center mall Tuesday.

The group from Church Mutual Insurance in Merrill folded shirts for the walkers and runners in the upcoming race.

 "This is the second year we have done this it is a good cause," volunteer Melanie Roth said.

Organizer Kris Alston said volunteers are still needed for race day on Sunday and anyone who wants to sign up to walk or run can do so here  or show up before the race starts.

The goal of the fundraiser is $100,000.

The money is used to pay for screening and treatments services.

"Everyone knows someone affected by this disease. When it affects you-- it sure puts a spin on you. This race is a great way to celebrate where we are and how far we have come," Kris Alston said.

The race begins and ends at the 400 block in downtown Wausau on Sunday morning.

NEWS 9 WAOW is proud to sponsor the event.

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A story of survival: Lori Brehmer


By: Melissa Langbehn of WAOW

WAUSAU (WAOW) - Lori Brehmer of Mosinee is a breast cancer survivor.

In 2016, after a routine mammogram, she learned she had the life-threatening disease.

"It was a shocking experience," Brehmer said. "You don't anticipate it when you get that call. I had no family history. No signs. Nothing I noticed."

She underwent a mastectomy, beginning a journey surrounded by family and friends.

"My recovery was remarkably fast and I decided I wanted to reach out to help others," Brehmer said. "The experience can be a struggle and I wanted to help others."

She became involved with Komen Central Wisconsin and in 2016 went to the Komen Central Wisconsin Race for the Cure.

The race is emotional as women hug each other as they cross the finish line, Brehmer said. "It is amazing."

She said she is looking forward to Sunday's 2018 Race for the Cure that starts at 9 a.m. on the 400 Block in downtown Wausau.

You can sign up to walk or run prior to the event.

Volunteers are also needed.

For more information you can click here.

News 9 is a proud media partner for the Komen Central Wisconsin Race for the Cure.

Click Here to read the full story.

My Team Triumph benefit concert held in Wausau


By: Brianna Hollis of WAOW


About 200 people gathered on the 400 Block in Downtown Wausau Tuesday evening for a benefit concert to support My Team Triumph. 

The organization gives people with special needs the opportunity to get active through running, swimming and biking programs.

Chad Esker, who plans on running seven Iron Mans in seven straight days next month, will be carrying a 26-year-old woman with cerebral palsy named Autumn Moen throughout the entire course on the last day.

Esker and Moen took the stage to spread the word about their upcoming race. 

Click Here to read the full story.

Raise Great Kids Day held at Wausau's 400 Block


By: WSAW Staff

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Wausau's downtown 400 Block may be quiet now, but that wasn't the cause earlier in the day Thursday. 

Not only was it Marketplace Thursday, it was also the second annual Raise Great Kids Day. The event is all about fun and free activities for kids, like music and crafts. 

"Events like this are important because it gets the word out about resources that are available to children and families in Marathon County, in our surrounding area. We're giving away free books to help with early literacy and brain development," said Laurie Frahm, with the United Way. 

While the kids had fun, parents could learn about counseling services available, as well as, child care.

Wausau planning to make downtown parking easier

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By: Victoria Saha with WAOW


Some new ideas are on the table to help manage those frustrating parking problems in downtown Wausau. 

The number one idea on the list was providing 90 minutes of free parking for everyone.

It's one of the proposals that are being discussed at a City Hall meeting on Tuesday.

Most parking spaces downtown are metered or have very specific rules which give locals a time crunch when they visit.

The manager of Compass Properties who owns buildings in the area said the issue has gotten out of hand.

"We were advocating two hour free parking for everyone every day for third street," said Mark Craig.

One business owner is hopeful the new parking idea will bring in more traffic to her store.

"A lot of people tend to be rushing in and out and they seem to be in a hurry a lot," said Lauren Rosemburgy. "I think with longer parking it will make everyone a lot more relaxed."

Tuesday's meeting will discuss more than providing 90 minutes of free parking.

"The finance committee will be authorizing the purchase of multi pay stations and the license plate recognition software," said Maryanne Groat the Wausau Finance Director.

It will allow cameras to recognize your license plate number and if you want to pay for more time you can do so from your phone.

Tuesday's meeting is just the first step, another meeting will take up on Thursday and then will still need to be approved by the full council. 

If the the proposed plan does get approved it will take effect by the end of the summer.

Click Here to read the full story.

Jazz on the River kicks off on a beautiful summer evening


By: Erin Liu of WSAW

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- The second annual Jazz on the River series kicked off its eight week run on a beautiful summer evening at Kickbusch Plaza in Wausau. 

Each Sunday evening beginning at 5:00 p.m. from July 8th to August 26th, Jazz on the River will offer free outdoor concerts in the Wausau River District. 

"It's relaxing, it's fun. Low-key, and a great time to get outside and enjoy the summer on the river with some great music" said concert goer Cal Tillisch. 

The concerts for the next eight weeks will either be held at Kickbusch Plaza, or if the weather is poor, the concerts will be held indoors at J. Gumbos restaurant near the 400 block.

Click Here to read the full story.

Wausau River District Hires Assistant Director


By:  Logan Wenger at WSAU

The Wausau River District has announced the hiring of a new Assistant Executive Director. She is Tiffany Lee, a Wausau resident. 

Blake Opal-Wahoske, Executive Director of the Wausau River District, provides a bit of background about Lee.

"She comes to us from the Girl Scouts of America. She was one of their Community Engagement Specialists," he said. "She brings with her a bachelor's degree in Marketing and she's actually working on her Master's in Communications right now."

Opal-Wahoske says serving as the assistant director of the district before executive director aided him in the search for a new assistant. He also says because of Lee's background in marketing the position will be changing a bit to better use her skill set. 

Click Here to read the full story.


By:  Haley BeMiller, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Smokers, including those who puff on e-cigarettes, will have to watch where they light up while they enjoy Wausau's parks.

The City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to prohibit smoking in certain areas of city parks and other outdoor areas on city property. Smoking will be banned inside enclosed park shelters, restroom buildings and within the fenced areas of tennis courts. The ban doesn't apply to open-air shelters.

Additionally, smoking will no longer be allowed within 50 feet of playgrounds, sports fields, swimming pool areas and the skateboarding facility at Oak Island Park.

Smoking may also be temporarily prohibited during events sponsored by the Parks Department, or free, public events in which the organizer has requested no smoking. However, an event organizer can ask to have the ban waived to permit smoking for ticketed events.

The ban applies to smoking and vaping, said assistant city attorney Tara Alfonso.

The ban is a response to citizens who are bothered by the practice, as well as concerns about children being exposed to the image of adults smoking, said council member Pat Peckham. It also aims to curb littering, he said, which the city has already been working to address through the installation of cigarette butt receptacles in places such as the 400 Block and River's Edge Trail.

The city will put up signs in parks to enforce the ban. Violators will have to pay a $25 cash deposit to the city plus court costs, Alfonso said, bringing the total to $92.50.

Peckham said citizens could involve the police if they see someone smoking in an off-limits area, but he believes it'll be regulated primarily through signage and community standards.

"Sign says you’re not supposed to smoke here, so let’s not smoke here," he said. 

City officials revived the issue of smoking in parks after the council voted down a blanket ban. Opponents at the time argued it went too far, too fast. 

“I think the community is ready for this step," Peckham said. 

Click Here to read the full story.

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.

Click Here to watch the full story.

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. 

Click Here to watch the full story.

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.

Click Here to watch the full story.

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.

Click Here to watch the full story.

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.

Click Here to watch the full story.

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.

Click Here to watch the full story.

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. 

Click Here to read the full story.

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. 

Click Here to watch the full story.

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.

Click Here to watch the full story.