Ringing in the New Year in Downtown Wausau

By:  Sarah McGrew - WAOW

By: Sarah McGrew - WAOW

WAUSAU (WAOW)– New Year’s Eve parties were hosted across Central Wisconsin, with several in Downtown Wausau.

Daly’s hosted a New Year’s Eve party for the second year in a row. Dancing, drinks, and a few magic tricks were part of the night’s entertainment.

Party-goers talked about their New Year’s resolutions. Some were to simply enjoy time with family and the community, and others said they had big trips planned.

Owner James Daly has unique take. “If you don’t make resolutions, you can’t break them,” he said.


Shepherd & Schaller of Wausau named one of best Midwest ski shops in national contest

Photo: T’xer Zhon Kha/Daily Herald Media

Photo: T’xer Zhon Kha/Daily Herald Media

By: Elizabeth A Waggoner, Wausau Daily Herald

WAUSAU - Local icon Shepherd & Schaller Sporting Goods is one of the two best ski shops in the Midwest, according to a recent online contest.

Freeskier magazine asked people to vote for their favorite shops across the United States and Canada. Shepherd & Schaller was the only Wisconsin shop named among what the magazine called "Midwest Leaders." The store also held the top spot in the Midwest for a portion of the contest. In the end, it was bumped into second place by a Twin Cities store.

Shepherd & Schaller, at 324 Scott St. in downtown Wausau, will celebrate 70 years in business in 2019. The owners have worked hard to remain relevant, evolving to meet customers' expectations.

With loyal customers from across Wisconsin as well as Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, South Dakota and beyond, owners are proud to offer genuine service and expert advice, co-owner Theresa Shepherd wrote in an email to USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. 

"Transplants to the area, especially those from warmer climates, make us a first stop for advice on coping with and enjoying Wisconsin winters," Shepherd wrote.

The store carries a broad selection of ski equipment, and ski tune-ups are one of its most popular services, according to a news release. Equipment rentals are an option for winter sport enthusiasts who aren't ready to buy.

Daily rentals of skis, snowboards, ice skates and snowshoes will become available after Christmas and when adequate natural snow is in place, Shepherd wrote. For information and reservations, call 715-845-5432.

Young entrepreneurs thriving in Wausau

By:  Sarah McGrew

By: Sarah McGrew

WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW)– Being your own boss before age 25 has become a reality for two young adults in Wausau.

Kayla Ermeling opened Ignite Nutrition in Downtown Wausau when she was 23 years-old. Now, 24, she doesn’t regret a moment of it.

“It’s been a tough, exciting, adventurous year. Lots of learning,” she said about starting her own business.

Ignite serves teas and smoothies in a cozy downtown location. So far, business has been good.

“We’re making smoothies and they’re cold, so I always say if we can it through the first winter we’re golden. It’s up from here,” Ermeling said.

Her advice to other young people interested in business is to just go for it. “I’m 24, if I decide this is not my purpose in life, I’m young enough to change it.”

Down the street in the Wausau Center Mall, Quinn Coyle, 21, is the owner of Flashback.

Coyle started the vintage clothing line when he was just a teenager in high school at Wausau West. He started by selling t-shirts to other students. Now, Flashback has it’s own store front.

“People will come up to me and be like ‘man you’re only 21 and you have a store,'” he said. “I love being here, there’s never a dull moment.”

Flashback sells shirts, jackets, hats and other accessories. Coyle designs them himself.

Both entrepreneurs said the Wausau Community has been supportive of their business endeavors.

“Everybody wants to see someone follow their dreams and do what they want, and not have anybody tell them no,” Coyle said.

Shepherd & Schaller in online voting contest for best in Midwest Wausau sporting goods store up for 'top shop' honor

By Heather Poltrock

By Heather Poltrock

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Shepherd & Schaller is in the running to win bragging rights for Top Shop in the county.

Freeskier magazine created the Top Shop Contest to recognize shops that serve skiers, and skiing as an industry. 

Voting began a few weeks ago. Voting ends Thursday.

Shepherd & Schaller sells outdoor sporting goods. It's located in downtown Wausau.

As of 3 p.m., Wednesday the shop was in second place in the Midwest region.

Downtown Wausau neighborhood spreading Christmas cheer

Michael Leischner - WSAU

Michael Leischner - WSAU

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -- A new Christmas tradition is beginning to take shape along 3rd Street near Downtown Wausau.

The second annual "Christmas Lives Here" event will see an area of 3rd Street near the Glass Hat bar transform into a wonderland of decorated trees of all sizes and colors. Blake Opal-Wahoske is a resident of the area and Director of the Wausau River District, he calls the event an opportunity to continue the revitalization of a growing area.

"With the completion of the first phase of the townhomes and the Riverlife Project, the neighborhood is experiencing a little bit of a renaissance," he said.

Last year's project saw about 14 trees line the street, and this year the group is looking to top that in a big way. Opal-Wahoske says anyone interested in placing a tree in the area can contact either the Glass Hat for placement or his office directly at 715-297-1829. Information is also available at the Wausau River District's Facebook page.

"Anyone that wants to spread the Christmas spirit is more than welcome to participate," he adds. The only stipulation on decorations for the tree is that they be tasteful and not offensive.

Hundreds of homemade winter items to be placed around downtown Wausau


By Maria Szatkowski

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Hundreds of hand-knitted and crocheted scarves, hats, mittens and blankets will grace the streets of downtown Wausau Friday night ahead of the holiday parade.

It's all thanks to a local group who makes the items, and then donates them back to the community for anyone who may need or want them.

Chase the Chill first started in Canada, but thanks to a local woman, it's now taking off in north central Wisconsin. 

"It's just interesting seeing people 'oh my gosh, I can have this? It's so pretty' or 'I'm cold.' Whether you like it or need it, you can take it," said Sarah Kreager, founder of the local chapter of Chase the Chill. "A bunch of people that are homecrafters get together, they make scarves, they donate items to make scarves, mittens, anything really for cold weather."

What's been a hobby for Kreager for years, is now a way for her to give back to the community. Chase the Chill Central Wisconsin is a group that collects and makes those handmade winter items. Members place them around fences and light posts in downtown Wausau.

"The amount of people that were interested in participating, or helping out in any way they could, whether it be with yarn or donations for funds to get more yarn, we've had people send stuff up for this year as far as Texas," said Kreager.

The winter items are out in time for Wausau's Holiday Parade.

"It was nice being able to see people throughout the time, either come by us where we were standing watching the parade, that would come and be like 'Oh, what is this? Did somebody lose their scarf?' and just being 'Nope, it's free for the taking," said Kreager.

This year, more than 300 homemade items will be out in the community on Friday.

"It's just spreading joy, spreading happiness. It's something small that I can do that if a kid needs it, or if an adult needs it, or if there's a homeless person that happenstances downtown...letting them know that people care. Even people that don't know them, still care," said Kreager.

The caring will continue, as donations are already being knitted or crocheted for next year.

"I've already started the next couple scarves that I know won't be finished by tomorrow night, so it's good that we're getting a jump start on next year already," said Kreager.

Wausau Holiday Parade draws hundreds of families

By    Jerel Ballard    - WAOW

By Jerel Ballard - WAOW

WAUSAU, Wis (WSAW) -- The annual Wausau Holiday Parade held on Friday drew hundreds of families from throughout north central Wisconsin. More than 50 businesses and non-profit organizations participated in the parade, each one with a unique float covered in Christmas decorations. 

“I enjoy seeing the community come out and support our businesses while being able to spend time with families and friends,” stated Katae Ulrick who attended the parade with her daughter. 

The parade started at Marathon Park and continued along Stewart Avenue ending at the 400 Block of downtown Wausau. Attendees started arriving as early as 4:30 p.m. to claim their spot; despite the chilly weather many people came prepared with chairs, blankets, hats, and gloves.

“We live in Wisconsin, I have gotten used to it,” Ulrick added. “As long as you layer up, you will be fine but luckily, the weather is not that bad this year.” 

Hot chocolate was provided at the end of the parade for participants and attendees. 

“I come to the parade every year,” included Kimberly Bargender who watched the parade with her brother. “Watching how happy my little brother gets as he watched the parade brings me back to when I was growing up,” Bargender said.

Small Business Saturday successful for area businesses



Now that Black Friday has wrapped up shops all across America and right here in central Wisconsin geared up for Small Business Saturday.

Saturday’s rain and muggy weather did not stop shoppers from checking out what their local stores had to offer.

“It reminds people that we are down here and let’s people know what new businesses have come there’s a lot of people that don’t come very often and just around Christmas shopping it is a reminder to the community,” said Katie Crotteau the floral designer at Evolutions in Design downtown.

Crotteau said her store had heavy traffic throughout Saturday morning.

They were promoting 25 percent off items that were on a tree or had a tree in it.

“I think this weekend just proves to everyone that people want to come out and see and experience what Christmas is like in retail and kind of that old school style of decorating and getting out,” Crotteau said.

All throughout our area people were shopping local and taking advantage of the holiday season.

“When you come in here you usually end up seeing our kids running around so you aren’t only supporting us and the local Wisconsin cheese makers and other artisans but you are also supporting our family,” said Maggie Christians the owner of Navieve Fromagerie.

One woman tells News 9 she prefers to shop local rather than chain stores.

“I think the big box store are taking over everything they are driving out local merchants,” said Carolyn Susor.” The local merchants they tend to specialize more and you don’t see that everything and that’s important.”

Shopping local comes with a big benefit to the community, according to experts.

The Wausau River District said if you spend $100 at a local business, $68 of that stays in the community.

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

parking meters.jpg

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

IMG_3952 (copy).jpg

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.

Click Here to read the full story.

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.

Click Here to read the full story.

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

dt parking story.jpg

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.