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Tourism-related spending up in Sawyer County in 2018

On Monday, May 6, Sawyer County received some good news from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism: tourism in the county is on the rise.

The department's economic income report for 2018 reported that tourism increased 1.31% from 2017 to 2018. During 2018, the state recorded $92.3 million in direct visitor spending in Sawyer County, up from the $91.1 million spent in 2017.

And in total business sales — including direct visitor spending and indirect (such as business to business sales) and induced sales (such as employee spending) — the increase was even more noticeable, from $121.3 million in 2017 to $123.8 million in 2018, an increase of 2.08%.

Also on the increase is the amount of total labor income generated from tourism. Total income increased .48% from $23.1 million in 2017 to $23.2 million in 2018.

The increase in total labor comes even though the state shows eight fewer workers employed in tourism from 2017 to 2018, from 1,010 in 2017 to 1,002 in 2018.

Representing the state's tourism office for northwest Wisconsin, Julie Fox said the labor numbers represent all those employed in tourism, including full-time, seasonal and part-time workers.

Because other critical numbers are in the positive trend, the drop in tourism laborers could represent a shortage of workers the county, region and state has experienced.

Another category that took a dip from 2017 to 2018 is the state and local taxes generated from tourism. The state recorded $10.6 million in 2017 and $10.4 million in 2018, a decrease of $200,000, or 1.02%.

Fox said the state was asked to review the Sawyer County tax numbers and based on the best data, the amount generated for state and local taxes didn't change after the review.

But it remains curious that state and local taxes would dip in 2018 when other key economic numbers were in the positive range and the county's sales tax — that half-percent added on mostly retail sales — increased by over $100,000 from 2017, from $1.823 million in 2017 to $1.933 million in 2018.

Fox added when more data is available later in the year the

tax data for 2018 might be revised in the 2019 report.

Statewide, 112 million people visited Wisconsin in 2018 and those tourists impacted the economy by $21.6 billion, adding $1.6 billion in state and local taxes, reducing the tax burden on residents by $680 per household, department officials said.

And then there were 9
Rep. Sean Duffy's family preparing to welcome ninth child

(AP) — Rep. Sean Duffy has announced that he and his wife are expecting their ninth child. Duffy, a Hayward native, is the son of Thomas W. and Carol Duffy.

In a post late Monday on his official House website, Duffy wrote: "God isn't done with our family yet! Baby number nine coming to the crew this fall!" He wrote that he and his wife aren't crazy, just full of hope for America's future.

Duffy is a Republican who has represented the 7th District in northwestern and central Wisconsin since 2011. It's the largest district in the state

and covers all, or part of, 20 counties.

Duffy and his wife, Rachel Campos-Duffy, were both reality TV personalities and met through the MTV show "The Real World."

Ex-priest doesn't want a jury trial

A former Catholic priest who faces four counts of sexual assault while he presided over St. Peter's Catholic Church in Winter in the early 1980s has informed the court that he would prefer not to have a jury trial.

On May 3, defense attorney Ryan Anthony Reid told Ashland County Circuit Court Judge Kelly McKnight that his client, Thomas E. Ericksen, does not want to undergo a jury trial.

Reid met with McKnight and Sawyer County Assistant District Attorney Aaron Marcoux in the small courtroom while Ericksen appeared via video from the Sawyer County Jail,

where he is in custody.

The Friday conference hearing was scheduled on April 2 after Marcoux told McKnight two more yet-to-be-filed charges against Ericksen would be coming from Lincoln County. Marcoux said the unfiled charges would come from the City of Merrill in Lincoln County, where Ericksen also served as chaplain for Holy Cross Hospital from 1979 to 1982.

On April 29, a protective order was filed not to release the names of the two alleged Lincoln County victims. The order states that in 1982 when two boys under the age of 12 were patients at Holy Cross Hospital in Merrill that each were fondled by Ericksen, who was then serving as chaplain.

Lincoln County has not officially filed charges against Ericksen, although the protective order identifies a Lincoln County District Attorney Case Number.

Because Reid had recently received new discovery information, McKnight scheduled another status conference for 2:45 p.m. June 6.


Hurricanes football can adapt to 2020 changes, says AD

At a Monday, May 6, information meeting, players, parents and fans of Hayward Hurricanes football were urged to look on the bright side of the recent WIAA Board of Control decision to move Hayward from the Heart O' North Conference to the Great Northern Conference (GNC) starting in the fall of 2020.

Only a few parents, youth coaches and a couple of football players attended Monday's meeting, at which Athletic Director Billy O'Brien and Supt. Craig Olson spoke about the likely scenarios. The Hayward School Board had objected to the Wisconsin football coaches' association and WIAA's plan to move Hayward into the GNC, but the WIAA Board of Control approved the plan unanimously.

O'Brien thanked the community for its support of the board's appeal to the WIAA. He said Hayward school officials considered having a football schedule independent of the WIAA, but with the realignment, all the conferences will have six to eight teams. That means they will play only games within their leagues from weeks three through nine of their seasons.

That means "they wouldn't pick Hayward to play against," O'Brien said.

Also, as an independent,

Hayward would not be eligible for the football playoffs. And if Hayward were to become independent, it could end up scheduling teams even more distant than those in the GNC, in Minnesota, O'Brien said.

O'Brien distributed a tentative varsity and JV football schedule for the Hurricanes for the fall of 2020, noting that two of the away games (Osceola and Mosinee) would be played before Labor Day, so Hayward students would not miss class time.

O'Brien added that he is trying to schedule three more JV games for 2020, and said that the JV game at Osceola would be played before the varsity game on the same night at the same field.

The Heart O' North athletic directors "are more than willing to help Hayward out (with JV and C level games), with the long-standing tradition we've had," he added.

O'Brien added that Hayward will play at Ashland and Lakeland this coming fall, so those teams will come to Hayward in the fall of 2020.

O'Brien said some of the "negative buzz" about the GNC is that those schools are bigger than Hayward High School and people fear that "our kids won't compare to their kids." But Hayward has played Ashland the past three years and "I would consider ourselves very competitive" with the Oredockers, who won the GNC championship last year, he said.

Youth football head coach Barry DePew said, "From this point on, we can't look back. We can't say 'Poor me, we're not (in) the Heart O' North Conference any more.' It doesn't do us any good. We have to rise above and get better. That's all we can do. You (football players) have to recruit your buddies.

"We have to pull together," DePew said. "No more negative talk — it's not an option."

O'Brien concurred, saying, "We have to put our student athletes in the best possible situation to compete at that level and win. We will go down and see some new places and put Hayward football back on the map."

Olson said that from his standpoint, "the kids and parents will be as financially backed as they were in the past, if not more. We're going to do everything in our power to make sure you have the tools to go down there (to Mosinee) and be competitive. We can definitely play with them."

Parent Jerry Thomas suggested scheduling fan buses for the away games, and Olson replied, "We're looking at that for sure."

Parent Brady Gunn said it's difficult for coaches and administrators to get long-time parents and grandparents here "to look at this as not such a negative thing. But the kids, all they want to do is play football. Kids can adapt to change a lot better than we can."

O'Brien said one key will be hiring a coach who will help bring new enthusiasm and excitement to the football program and meet with parents. But athletes need to get stronger over the summer to prepare for the season, he added.

Parent Jerry Thomas said it will take time for people accustomed to traditional rivalries with teams such as Spooner to get used to new football rivalries.

"As leaders of the group, we're not going into the tank," Olson said. "You won't hear one thing from us except 'How do we get better and compete down there, and what can we do to help."

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)