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JANESVILLE – Schools in southern Wisconsin are under heightened security this morning as authorities look for a man who burglarized a gun shop Wednesday evening.

In Walworth County, where so much of the economy revolves around tourism, getting people to vacation here is a big deal.

But with an annual tourism budget dwarfed by our neighbors in Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota, state officials have learned how to get more bang for their tourism buck.

By doing so, Wisconsin is able to compete throughout the region with any other state, according to Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett.

Klett highlighted her approach during a speech Friday, March 31, 2017 at the Wisconsin Community Papers annual convention at the Abbey Resort in Fontana.

The trade group represents free weekly newspapers and shoppers in Wisconsin.

Klett said competition is fierce in the Great Lakes area for visitors and the money they spend.

Wisconsin's annual tourism budget is about $12 million, Klett said. That's compared to Michigan's $33.9 million and Illinois' annual tourism budget of $58 million.

But a lot is at stake. In Wisconsin, tourism is a $19.3 billion dollar industry that directly employs 190,000 people, according to Klett

In Walworth County, tourists in 2014 spent nearly $500 million and supported nearly 7,000 jobs, according to the Walworth County Visitors Bureau.

But the tourism message wasn't always as focused as it is today, Klett said.

By 2009, two years before Klett became secretary, Travel Wisconsin had come up with its fifth slogan in 15 years.

Unfortunately, the slogan around that time, "Live like you mean it," turned out to be something other than what was intended.

Klett remembers being at the announcement event when a woman leaned over and said, "Live like you mean it? That's the slogan for Bacardi Rum."

So the next day, Klett said, the headlines blared that state had paid $15,000 to plagiarize a slogan from a rum company.

Since those days, Klett says the department of tourism has focused on what she says in the No. one motivator for people going on vacation -- fun.

But everyone defines fun differently.

"My dad, without a fishing poll in his hand, hit's not fun. If you can touch that nerve of fun, you've got a winner," Klett said.

So, the department's first big splash into fun was to hire Wisconsin native David Zucker, who made a name for himself writing comedy films like "Airplane" and "Naked Gun."

He was excited about the project.

"You know in the 40 year's I've been gone from Wisconsin, no one's every asked me to do something for the state," he told Klett.

Zucker created a slapstick-funny winter spot that earned what Klett said was $10 million in free press.

For their next spot, they called on David's brother Jerry Zucker, also a co-writer on the "Airplane" movies.

Jerry Zucker's ad was filmed in Seymour and featured Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson, who found himself transported from his home in Kansas to Wisconsin.

The highlight of the collaboration, however, was a reunion between the Zucker brothers, fellow writer Jim Abrahams and stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Hays for a series of three commercials promoting Wisconsin based on the "Airplane" movies.

The reunion was a hit here in Wisconsin as well as in Hollywood.

Travel Wisconsin's latest efforts turn toward something that is classic Wisconsin -- the supper club.

The spot was filmed at the Buckhorn Supper Club in Milton, and revolved around making the perfect Old Fashioned.

That spot has been the most viewed so far, according to Klett.

Travel Wisconsin's efforts don't only revolve around TV advertising, however, Klett said.

There are different versions for print and some creative projects aimed specifically at Chicago, a market of major importance to Walworth County.

One project involved wrapping an architectural tour bus in Chicago with a Wisconsin Northwoods camp theme.

The project won numerous awards, as well as a free run in New York.

Klett, a former Miss Wisconsin, still lives in her hometown of Beloit.

Before becoming secretary, she was the host of the long-running tourism show, "Discover Wisconsin."

As she likes to remind people whenever she is out speaking, if you're having fun, she's having fun.

Friday, 31 March 2017 09:42

Welcome to Spring Home and Outdoors 2017

It’s been nearly two weeks since March 20, 2017, the official first day of spring. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the seasons have changed with the extended stretch of cool, cloudy and gloomy weather.

We’re here to help.

This week's paper is a special edition, Spring Home & Outdoors, to get readers thinking about all of the possibilities of the season ahead.

The paper is packed with stories and ads to get your moving as the weather gets nicer.

(More Spring Home & Outdoors stories are HERE.)

(Read our full digital edition HERE: Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap on the edition of your paper.)

Senior Editor Lynn Greene spearheaded this project with a collection of stories we hope will help you get motivated for the new season.

In our lead feature, Greene interviewed experts in the field of home organizing and clutter control. They offered suggestions about how to tackle our homes and our lives to be more organized and efficient.

We also head to the golf course to preview what’s ahead in the golf season, from the U.S. Open coming to Wisconsin in June to a variety of local events and activities.

Mixed in, there are suggestions for summer camps for our kids and tips for painting.

Hopefully we’ve done our part to get ready for the new season. Now, we just need the weather to cooperate.

Dan Plutchak, editor

Are you looking to get the kids out of the house this summer where they can have adventures and learn something, too.

(More Spring Home & Outdoors stories are HERE.)

Summer day camps are a great way build valuable activities into your schedule.

Here are a few popular programs in the Stateline area:

 Friday, March 31, 2017

Open mic, March 31, from 7 p.m. to midnight, Hilltop International Pub, 121 E. Milwaukee St., Janesville. 608-290-2769.

Lucas Ray, March 31, at 7 p.m., Burlington Coffee House, 492 N. Pine St., Burlington. 262-661-4394, BurlingtonCoffeeHouse.com

Ernie Hendrickson, March 31, from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., Cafe Carpe, 18 S. Water St. West, Fort Atkinson. 920-563-9391,CafeCarpe.com

Open Mic, March 31, and every Friday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Boxed and Burlap coffeehouse, 2935 Wisconsin Highway 67, Delavan. 262-374-5497, BoxedAndBurlap.com

   The Mike Stone Trio, March 31, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Star Rock Bar & Grill, 328 E. Walworth Ave., Delavan

Thursday, 30 March 2017 13:03

Lighten it up with spring salads

What do you think of when I say spring? Do you think of bright splashes of color, fresh green grass, spritzes of cool and crunchy?

After a long winter, we just naturally crave color. In the past, in prerefrigeration days, the urge for color was a symptom of our urge for fresh dosages of vitamins and minerals — all of which are found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

(More Spring Home & Outdoors stories are HERE.)

After living on root vegetables and salted meats all winter, our ancestors were ready for the fresh pickings of spring. Foraging for wild greens such as dandelions and watercress, fruits such as strawberries and vegetables such as mushrooms and wild parsnips were important sources of these much-needed vitamins.

Salmon, shrimp and scallops all provide omega-3 fatty acid (good for the heart), vitamins A, B2 and B6 plus niacin and riboflavin. Use seafood as the base for these healthy recipes. Because we’re still in the Lenten season, I expect you’ll find some nice fresh seafood in the store right now.

Whether it’s signing up youth for their first lessons, participating in the weekly men’s or women’s scramble, teeing it up for bragging rights at a municipal tournament or joining the gallery at a PGA touring event, 2017 will offer Stateline area golf enthusiasts a wide variety of options to enjoy the links.

(More Spring Home & Outdoors stories are HERE.)

One such effort features the Walworth County Visitors Bureau, which is teaming up with nine golf courses in hopes that families and individuals will get out their clubs more often this year through a passport program.

When Susan Tilley’s mom passed away last year, she had been living in her rural Janesville home for 47 years. Tilley went through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

“I was stuck on anger for the longest time,” Tilley said.

In part, it was because of the mess she inherited. The house her mother left was full of stuff that had to be gone through, cleaned up and cleaned out before the house could be sold. Tilley took a week’s vacation from her job to get it ready.

By Philip A. Ketterhagen, Burlington

The Burlington Area School Board has put in motion three referendums for bond issue on the April 4, 2017 ballot.

The referendums apply to buildings and infrastructure. The state report cards rate the district "Exceeding Expectations," and locally administered assessment, known as Measures of Academic Progress, have all grade levels exceeding the national average. Burlington High School was one of 425 schools in the United States and Canada named to the Advanced Placement Honor Role.

In a stunning defeat for a president and party that rode repeal of the Affordable Care Act to improbable wins in the November 2016 election, Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville and President Donald Trump this afternoon pulled a replacement bill that had no chance of passing.

The move on March 24, 2017, was a significant failure for House Republicans, who had voted by some counts 54 times during President Barack Obama's two terms to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

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