Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trailer explosion

According to fire officials, a natural gas leak likely caused this mobile home residence to explode early Wednesday morning, January 30, 2008 at E9350 Oakwood Lane in the Town of Mukwa, Wis. The resident, who was home at the time of the blast, was seriously injured and found laying in the front yard.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Welcome to the world of trivia... the 43rd annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest based at the WLFM studios at Lawrence University in Appleton.

GMTC is an over-the-(internet)radio trivia contest that goes from about 10pm Friday evening through midnight Sunday... it goes non-stop. Most people compete as part of a team. About 300 regular questions are asked over the course of the weekend... you have three minutes to answer these by calling in. These are not easy questions... they usually require research. The whole thing is incredibly addictive... team members sleep in shifts so enough people can be awake at all hours to answer.

Jabberwocky out of Greenville, Wis., is well into its second decade of participating in the contest.

Always polite with the trivia personnel on the other end of the line even when her team's answers are incorrect, "Fred" Carole Leslie answers a trivia question by phone as part of the trivia team Jabberwocky.

What a cute dog they have. Yodi, 17. I want her.

"I need it to stimulate my brain," said James Steinberg, using a massager on his forehead while participating in the 43rd annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest with his trivia team Jabberwocky.

Jabberwocky teammates "Fred" Carole Leslie, left, and Denney Gaines (cq) pore through decades of trivia records – past questions and accumulated facts – while trying to answer a question. Other computer-savvy team members meanwhile use,, and other reference sites.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Despite surgeries, Kaufert has embraced life like any boy

From our story by Dan VanderPas:

"Please don't baby Ricky Kaufert. Don't feel sorry for his parents, Rick and Sara, and their 10-year-old daughter, Brooke, either.

They're doing fine even though 12-year-old Ricky has undergone open-heart surgery because he was born with three holes in his heart. He has also been operated on four times for his hands and once for a double hernia.

When the likable, talkative Ricky was born Sept. 26, 1995, his left arm was shorter than his right one. He had a total of only seven fingers and no thumbs on both his hands. So surgeons relocated his index fingers to where his thumbs are supposed to be located."

Despite all this, Ricky now writes fine, races go-carts, and, as shown below, plays basketball with other kids his age.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hockey... still trying...

This rink in Neenah is so difficult to make a picture in... the light is flat and awful and there aren't many unobstructed angles to work. I'll keep trying...

Fox Cities Stars' goalie Richie Del Viscio (35) stops a Kenosha Tremper shot on goal in the first period of a game at Tri-County Ice Arena in Neenah, Wis., Saturday afternoon, Jan. 26, 2008.

Kenosha Tremper's Chuck Marcoe (20) shoves Fox Cities Stars' Kyle Cumber (22) into the boards in the first period.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Basketball season... cont'd

Neenah High School's Becca Stern (1) tries to regain control of the ball surrounded by Menasha High School defenders, from left, Angela Gallo (32), Annika Steffens (44), and Sarah Stecker (50), in the third period of a game in Neenah, Wis., Friday evening, Jan. 25, 2008.

Neenah High School's Becca Stern (1) shoots over Menasha High School's Lacey Probst (42), left, and Annika Steffens (44), right, in overtime.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Basketball season... cont'd

Fox Valley Lutheran High School's Natalie Hoogervorst (30) and Xavier High School's Mariah Kersten (20) eye a rebound in the second half of a game at Xavier in Appleton, Wis., Thursday evening, Jan. 24, 2008.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


An outtake from a Life-section story on a multi-generational snowshoeing family... the scene had a lot of potential but I wanted some more space between people... the kid on the left falling is a nice touch though...

In-school meteorologist

This was a scene from a little story we did on a local high school with a trained meteorologist on its teaching staff.

Steve Shelton points out features on numerical forecast models to his meteorology class at Hortonville High School, in Hortonville, Wis., Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 23, 2008.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wandering Sons

This story hasn't run yet, but I was given the go-ahead to post it... I feel like I've been sitting on this shot for too long.

Every once in a while I'll take a picture, I see it on the back of the screen and it makes me laugh... because it has either failed so incredibly I'm dumbfounded, or much more rarely, something unexpected and cool has happened.

I was sent out one night to photograph a band called Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons, an Appleton band that just got signed by a major recording label in L.A. – to our knowledge the first band from our area to achieve this is in more than half a century. We had covered them maybe a dozen times over the past several years, but this was their last show before moving to L.A. For such a popular band, the venue was a sardine can.

Part of the band's flavor is their eclectic mix of instruments. I saw the guy on the clarinet and he was swaying in and out of the spotlight. The shaved head and designer frames popped out at the right moment and boom... something kinda cool.

They're a great band... I really enjoyed their live performance. I perused the iTunes previews for their album and it seemed too polished for my tastes. Part of what made them great live was their improvisation and free flowing sound, something that I just didn't come across as well in the studio.

An extra shot of Cory Chisel...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Packers lose NFC title game, but spirits remain high...

Packers fans are crazy. Period. I was on the home front in Appleton covering local reaction of the game as part of a story about cinemas in Wisconsin that are showing the games for large groups. As you can imagine, the NFL isn't happy about it among other things, but the fans love it. My personal feeling: the NFL is nothing without its fans... take too much control and you'll end up alienating them.

Here's a couple frames from the evening:

Watching at the Fox Cinema in Menasha, Wis., fans from left, Penny Hughes, Phillip Hanson, and Maria Stuck celebrate a Green Bay Packers defensive play against the New York Giants during the NFC Championship game on Sunday evening, Jan. 20, 2008.

Watching at the Fox Cinema in Menasha, Wis., fans erupt in jubilation as the Green Bay Packers' Donald Driver runs into the end zone for the Packers' first touchdown against the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game.

Watching at the Fox Cinema in Menasha, Wis., Sharon and David Martin, front, steal a kiss as the Green Bay Packers took on the New York Giants for the NFC Championship on Sunday evening, Jan. 20, 2008.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

They might be Giants...

The New York Giants came to town and I was part of the small media pack and group of fans waiting to "greet" them at their hotel here in Appleton.

New York Giants fan Ken Holland of East Northport, N.Y., looks west on College Avenue in hopes of seeing a glimpse of the busses transporting his favorite football team to their hotel, the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, in Appleton, Wis., Saturday afternoon, Jan. 19, 2008.

That's me... bundled up... freezing my giblets off waiting for the busses to arrive. No that's not snot in my facial hair... that's my condensed breath that's frozen onto my face. Lovely stuff...

A Green Bay Packers fan watches the New York Giants arrive from his atrium-view hotel room window at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning arrives with his teammates at the hotel.

The coldest I've ever been...

The past couple days' weather has made me wonder why I moved to this state. Wind chills hovering around -30ºF, actual highs at -3ºF... literally biting cold.

It's hard to illustrate temperature in a photograph or two. Here's my stab at it:

Mist, rapid water, and ice floes roll past two ice-encrusted trees near a dam on the Fox River behind Fratellos Riverfront Restaurant, 501 W. Water St., in Appleton, Wis., Saturday afternoon, Jan. 19, 2008.

Bundled-up for subzero temperatures, Carolyn Von Ruden of Beaver Dam braves the cold walking east on College Avenue towards her and her husband's hotel.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Basketball season... cont'd

These pictures are dime-a-dozen in girls' basketball – they're on the floor scrapping for loose balls more than they're jumping for rebounds – but I like this frame fine for daily coverage.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hockey... marked improvement...

I can't claim the credit for better photos from this hockey game. I was shooting at a different venue this time, with much better light and much better action.

I'm getting better, but I have a ways to go with this sport... I enjoy shooting it, so hopefully more opportunities to practice will come along.

Winter weather...

Another snow storm... another day out finding weather photos... it was kind of fun...

Therese Freund, a naturalist at the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve, shovels snow in front of the park's nature center in Grand Chute, Wis., Thursday afternoon, Jan. 17, 2008.

Longtime friends home from college, Heidi Hillebrandt, front, and Molly Staelens, both of Neenah, make use of the winter weather to go cross-country skiing at Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve.

Winter weather can't stop Romelle Herrmann of Appleton from doing her job as a waver for Liberty Tax Service along West Northland Avenue in Appleton.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This really is a great job...

Yesterday my main assignment was to go with a writer to Lambeau Field – the stadium in Green Bay where the Packers play – and come back with a story. It's one of those things where you really have to be a journalist, ask around, and just find something, anything, that's interesting that people will want to look at and read about. You're in control... which can be very frustrating at first, but ultimately very liberating...

Anyways... We found Ken.

Ken Ekstrand drove all the way from Racine on his day off to take a guided stadium tour... a pilgrimage of sorts... before the Packers played the Giants for the NFC Championship. Of course, he wanted to take pictures to send to his daughter who had toured the stadium with him nearly a decade ago. But in particular, Ken couldn't wait to walk down the players' tunnel and onto the field.

Lambeau Field is a place of hallowed history.

After walking through the players' tunnel, Ken Ekstrand of Racine, Wis., takes in the sights of Lambeau Field from field-level during a walking tour of the Packers' stadium in Green Bay, Wis., Wednesday morning, Jan. 16, 2008.

I made use of the rest of the tour to get some other neat images around the stadium that could be used for other purposes.

That's a lot of popcorn. I sincerely hope they pop some fresh stuff for the games!

The "new" atrium outside the stadium.

The Packers invite the public to show-up with a shovel to help remove snow from the stadium whenever it snows. Each participant is paid roughly $8/hr.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sometimes news happens in your backyard... literally...

My day off turned into a six-hour waiting game at my apartment complex... read my written account for the paper below interspersed with my photos:

I'm a resident of the Washington Plaza Apartments on Elsie Street, less than a block (about 50 yards) from where Sunday's standoff and subsequent shooting took place.

I noticed police begin the create a perimeter around the immediate neighborhood between 3:00 and 3:30pm. Appleton Police entered our building saying there was a "situation" in the neighborhood, and asked that we go to the basement or first floor, or stay away from our windows. By this time I was in communique with my boss Dwight Nale and colleague Patrick Ferron who were listening to the chatter on the police radio scanner. They told me that there was a stand-off situation in a house in the 800 block of West Lorain Street.

I admit that I disregarded the police's directives at my own risk. I felt a journalistic obligation to work the story since I had a unique perspective and vantage point of the scene – I was well inside the police perimeter. So i continued to monitor the situation from my window and taking pictures of the activity on the scene.

Police walked cautiously around the building and the rest of the neighborhood with shotguns, handguns and what appeared to be assault rifles. As time passed, more and more officers showed up wearing camouflage, appearing to be part of a tactical or SWAT unit.

As the situation seemed to escalate, I went to a neighbor's apartment who has windows facing the duplex where the standoff situation was occurring. From those windows I had an unobstructed view looking south towards the rear exterior wall of the duplex, and the east side exterior wall of the duplex. I could not see the front porch where everything was occurring, but I was well within earshot of everything that was occurring. I also was listening to chatter on the police radio scanner.

From the window I could see a squad car, about 50 feet east of the residence on Lorain, with the tactical team gathered behind it.

From what I saw and heard on the police radio, they approached the residence's front porch – a handful of them – one in front behind a shield with a drawn handgun, and one in the middle with a phone. The phone appeared to just be a box with a long gray cable. Radio communication made it sound like they placed this rig on or near the front porch of the residence.

Somebody with the police was then on a bullhorn or loudspeaker asking the suspect to come out and get the phone. It also sounded from what I heard on the police radio, like the suspect was from time to time pointing a firearm out of the house towards the police, but I never actually saw this. They wanted to get the phone to the suspect because, from what I heard on the police radio, they went a long time without being able to make contact with the suspect. They also said over the radio that he may have been hard of hearing.

They kept repeating over the loudspeaker for the suspect to come out and get the phone. From what I heard over the police radio, he did exit the residence out onto the porch to get the phone. I gathered that for some reason he may have had trouble finding the phone because the police kept specifying over and over again on the loudspeaker where it was, on and in relation to, the porch.

They told him things like, "Nobody wants to hurt you. Pick up the phone so we can talk to you."

They addressed him with the name "Steve."

Eventually he must have gotten the phone. I distinctly remember him yelling back at the police: "Your f***ing phone doesn't work."

A minute or two passed. I could feel the tension building as the suspect seemed to become more argumentative, the scene got louder. At one point he yelled at them, "Just shoot me."

I can't say for sure what the suspect's actions were at that point. I didn't have a visual. It was just moments later that I heard three shots ring out. The first shot sounded different from the subsequent two. I don't know if that means that the suspect shot first and then the police shot at him, or if the first shot was just a different type of firearm, or if he shot himself, or what. The tactical team was still behind the squad car when this happened, but there were other tactical personnel all around the area so the shots really could have come from anywhere.

Over the loudspeaker they said, "Steve, an ambulance is here and we're coming to help you."

Shortly after that, the tactical team advanced towards the suspect who, from what i heard on the radio, was hit and was down. Once they reached the fallen suspect, the police announced over the radio he was unconscious but breathing. Gold Cross was then called in to transport him. The scene remained secure for about a half hour after that. Police then cordoned off the area with yellow tape.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Girl scouts...

Every year, the local Girl Scout council hosts a cook-off at the mall, involving local restaurants making upscale desserts and somehow incorporating one or more Girl Scout cookie types into the recipe.

The contest is judged and then samples are given to the public. And you know what that means! Because it was available to the public, it was available to me! For once I got to eat what I shot!

And you know what? I ate so much sugar and butter-creme frosting I could have puked. I'll pack my lunch next year.

The Machine Shed executive chef Rick Hoerth places some finishing touches on his brownie mint delights before the 2008 Girl Scout Cookie Cook-off in the Macy's wing of the Fox River Mall in Grand Chute, Wis., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008.

Danielle Eaglin, 6, a Brownie Girl Scout from Neenah, is proud to partake in the Peanut Butter Pat-A-Cake offered by Waupaca's Green Fountain Inn chef and baker Jackie Griffin.

Guess what...

...more basketball and wrestling! Loving it...

Appleton East's Jessica Litsheim (20) drives on Appleton West's Marklie Munroe (15) in the second period of a game at Appleton East in Appleton, Wis., Friday evening, Jan. 11, 2008.

After recovering a loose ball, Appleton East's Kayla Burkman (44) lands on Appleton West's Courtney Buth (35) while passing off to teammate Heidi Baerenwald (42) in the second period.

Appleton West's Courtney Buth (35) and Appleton East's Brittany Weiner (22) fight on the floor for a rebound in the third period.

Iowa Grant's Justin Washburn inflicts some pain on Wrightstown's Ben Vanden Wymelenberg in a 135-pound match at Kaukauna High School during the Cheesehead Invitational in Kaukauna, Wis., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

When you have the time, try something different...

I've been shooting so much wrestling and basketball recently my head is starting to spin. Part of the disillusionment is that it's at least 2-3 times a week and always on deadline.

I recently shot a wrestling meet that started earlier than normal, allowing me to spend some time. I came out with two photos I'm genuinely pleased with... they go a little beyond the norm...

Appleton North's Tremayne Williams takes control of Oshkosh North's Cody Morgan in a 189-pound match as Menasha High School hosted wrestling-duals in Menasha, Wis., Thursday evening, Jan. 10, 2008.

Appleton West sophomore Kyle Fellinger crashes under the Menasha High School bleachers after losing to Neenah's Tyler Nation in a 135-pound match during wrestling-duals in Menasha, Wis., Thursday evening, Jan. 10, 2008.