As Christmas celebrations end, it’s nice to take some time and sit back and think about past events before addressing the challenges of the year to come. For this reason, I spent some time over the weekend browsing through some bound volumes of newspapers and looking at some of the photos that I have taken over the past twelve years.
My first picture for the newspaper was a Blair Boys Basketball EMC tournament game at Plattsmouth High School in February, 2003. At that time the newspaper was beginning the transition to digital imaging. Some of the staff members used a little point and shoot digital camera, but for the most part we were still using film. After ball games and photo shoots I would would retreat to the darkroom to process film and then digitally scan the negatives. That darkroom still exists, but now it is used as a storm shelter.
In the spring of 2003, Joe Lager was named acting Blair police chief and then appointed permanent chief a few months later. The police department also moved into the current headquarters that spring. Previously the department had shared the law enforcement annex at the Court House with the sheriff’s department. Later that year, Aaron Barrow was hired as police lieutenant.
One major story I covered during my first year was the reconstruction of Highway 30 through Blair. Spring rains slowed construction and turned 19th and South Street into a mud hole. The proposed roundabout was a major source of conversation – not all favorable. Work on the highway continued through 2004 and the roundabout at Highway 133 and 30 opened in November 2004.
In September of 2003, I photographed Laura Bloomfield’s South School Kindergarten class for the debut of Classroom of the Week. This popular feature has been running year after year for the past twelve years. Students in those first kindergarten classes will be graduating seniors this spring. During the intervening years I think I have photographed practically every student in the Blair Community Schools and the Fort Calhoun Schools either in the classroom, or participating in an activity or sporting event.
One of the more memorable events I covered was the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Corps of Discovery Festival at Fort Atkinson the summer of 2004. During the first two days of the Festival an estimated 42,000 people descended on Fort Calhoun to view replicas of the Lewis and Clark keel boat and two pirogues docked at Boyer Chute, and to see and hear Native American musicians and dancers. The events commemorated Lewis and Clark’s first first meeting in 1804 with Native Americans.
By far the most newsworthy story I photographed over the years was the summer flood of 2011. High-water began to overflow the river banks in May when the Army Corps of Engineers announced that record amounts of water would be released upstream due to heavy snow pack in the mountains and record rainfalls in Montana and North Dakota. Throughout the summer I explored flooded fields and roads. I attended press conferences. I accompanied tours and photographed elected officials. I photographed the flood from the air with Enterprise Publisher Mark Rhoades, and on the river with the sheriff’s department. It was a summer that I will never forget.
Over the years I have enjoyed working with the Enterprise editorial staff and publishers. I value my associations and friendships with the people of Washington County. I look forward to hopefully spending many more years making images that tell stories important to the people of Washington County.