“If you build it, people will come” is a sentiment from the 1989 film, Field of Dreams. Peoples State Bank sees the building of the Hodag Sports Complex as the perfect opportunity to impact the greater Rhinelander community. The Hodag Schools Foundation (HSF) is pleased to announce the donation of $100,000 from Rhinelander’s Peoples State Bank. The donation comes in the form of a pledge, designated for improvements to the Hodag athletic multi-purpose complex.
“The project will benefit our youth, student athletes, their families, and citizens in Rhinelander by promoting health and wellness, team building, and social responsibility,” notes Craig Lau, Northern Market President of Peoples State Bank. He continued, “The facility will be viewed by neighboring communities as an excellent cooperative venture, raising the bar for athletic competition for all Rhinelander athletes. Additionally, the economic impact to Rhinelander and the surrounding communities will be felt for decades to come. When teams and athletes travel to Rhinelander, those athletes and families will eat at our restaurants, stay at our hotels, and shop in our stores, providing an economic boost that is not just felt by those businesses but felt by the employees who work at those businesses.”
Peoples looks for ways to give back to the communities where they have bank locations. Founded in 1962 in Wausau, their first northern branch was located in Rhinelander’s Trig’s Grocery store within the Trig’s Mall in 1998. In 2002, Peoples opened at its current location at 8 East Anderson Street. They believe in hiring and retaining many people who grew up in Rhinelander. “Brandon Karaba, RHS Class of 2001, is a perfect example of the type of employee we love having on our staff,” says Lau, “because he devotes his own time to give back to the community in which he grew up.”
Peoples takes pride in the community service and non-profit work of their employees. In 2018, employees donated more than 8,000 hours to non-profits, churches, schools, and other community organizations. Volunteering is part of Peoples culture. As a community bank, they feel customers are also friends and neighbors and work together to make communities better places to live and work. Volunteering so important that in 2019, Peoples provided 20 hours of volunteer time off for every employee to use during their workday to give back to their communities.
“When you work for a company that supports the growth and prosperity of the community you love, it’s easy to be passionate about your job. . .,” notes Brandon Karaba, Assistant Vice President and Mortgage Lender at Peoples. “As a local business, we’re only successful when our customers and communities are successful. One of the reasons we stepped up to help with this project is the impact it will have not only just on our school’s student athletes, but also on the community in general. From an exercise and fitness standpoint, having a sports complex that will be available when weather doesn’t cooperate, means more people staying fit and improving their health.”
“Our bank believes in always seeing potential in building a community,” comments Peoples State Bank President and CEO Scott Cattanach. “That is why we know people will come to Rhinelander when we help build the Hodag Sports Complex. Peoples State Bank is proud to be part of the project.”
Brian Paulson, HSF Board member and Activities Director for the School District of Rhinelander (SDR), states, “Anyone who has competed in school athletics, intramurals, or other sporting events knows how important practice is to perfect the skills to compete at a high level. Unfortunately, in our northern climate, it’s not always easy to stay on top of those skills in the middle of winter. That’s why this donation is so important to all Rhinelander athletes. Our athletes will be able to practice rain or shine, day or night, and winter cold. We sincerely thank Peoples State Bank for supporting this project.” SDR Board member Duane Frey echoes that gratitude, “The school district is most appreciative of the donation from Peoples State Bank. It is gratifying to have the backing of this local business and the incredible impact it will have on our students and community.”
The Hodag Schools Foundation (HSF) is pleased to announce the donation of $100,000 from
Rhinelander Auto Center (Rhinelander GM and Toyota). The donation comes in the form of a pledge
over five years, designated for improvements to the Hodag athletic multi-purpose complex, specifically
the Hodag Dome.
“We feel business owners have a responsibility to the communities where they operate. It's
important to give back and be involved,” acknowledges Dan Towne owner of Rhinelander Auto Center.
Towne who was an entry-level salesman at Rhinelander Auto Center in early 2000, worked his way to
the top of the company over the course of 15 years. A proud Rhinelander native, he credits his start in
the car business to his father-in-law, who worked at a local dealership and encouraged him to apply.
After assisting with the purchase and successful growth of a sister store, Durango Motor Company in
Colorado, Towne returned to Rhinelander in 2016, overseeing Rhinelander Auto Center’s day-to-day
operations as general manager. He became owner in March 2019 and Towne remains committed to the
“Sports and recreation is not only about winning, it’s about helping build stronger, healthier,
happier, and safer communities,” continues Towne. “Communities that participate in sports, recreation,
and wellness activities develop strong social bonds, are safer places, and their residents are generally
healthier and happier. Physical activity enhances cognitive function improving memory, behavior,
concentration, and academic achievement. We here at Rhinelander Auto Center believe sports activities
are a great way for children to learn essential skills such as teamwork and cooperation that will serve
them later in life.”
He goes on to say, “This dome will be versatile so it won’t only cater to our community of Hodag
athletes, but will be useful for Rhinelander High School students and departments like physical education
and band. Additionally, it will give our community a chance to host activities and events such as
tournaments and fundraisers.”
Rhinelander Auto Center believes improving outdoor facilities benefits the community by
bringing people together and providing opportunities for social interaction and networking. They agree
that facilities of this type create positive alternatives for youth, provide a vehicle for inclusion, and bring
people of different backgrounds together, promoting volunteering. “Sports and recreation clubs are the
hub of community life, especially in small rural locations like Rhinelander and its surrounding areas,”
continues Towne. “It balances work and life, fostering community pride.”
Rhinelander Auto Center trusts that building this complex will help grow the athletic department
of the schools and community which in turn will attract future business leaders and their families.
Towne sums up the reason to support this project by saying, “One of our values includes being good
community citizens. We give willingly to and are actively involved in the support of our local communities
because they provide us our success. Donating to local organizations also fosters good will. It shows that
we care about the future of Rhinelander and the youth that will shape it. It’s not about adding to or
growing our bottom line, but about shaping future generations to be proud of where they grew up.
Hopefully, they will see the value in that and want to continue that tradition - to continue building
Rhinelander into a great community.”
Jonna Jewell, an HSF Board member and 1971 graduate of Rhinelander High School, applauds
the coming changes, “Instead of practicing in congested hallways, Rhinelander students will be able to
train in a safe, comfortable place. HSF is fortunate to have the support of local businesses such as
Rhinelander Auto Center.”
“The improvements in these Rhinelander facilities will change Rhinelander, benefiting students,
the community, and businesses, completely differentiating Rhinelander from its neighbor,” says
Rhinelander School Board member David Holperin. “The District thanks Rhinelander Auto Center for its