First post from Nashville…

Here’s a quick one for you. Things have been hectic, getting into the new job and all that and trying to manage all the new things. But I did get time for a quick portrait. (I shot a wedding last week too, but all in good time). So without further delay, here’s my new landlord, Allen Porter.

Seriously, can you look at this fellow and not think that he’s got some awesome stories to tell?

Allen is 80 years old, but I don’t know if anyone told him. He’s obviously worked really hard to keep our place in tip-top shape, a fact that I’ll have in mind as I try to make sure it stays that way. He’s been super-friendly to Meghan and I too. Heck, he even brought me tomatoes.Allen is a U.S. Army veteran. He served in Korea, and then spent more than 20 years in the reserves after that. I look forward to talking with Allen even more in the days and years to come.

On an unrelated note, I mentioned my coworkers throwing a pizza party and getting me a cake when I left the Advocate-Press. Well, I must be blessed, or just really lucky when it comes to coworkers, because at my first day at The Nashville News, my new coworkers brought in a spread for lunch. Plus, Turtle Bars. Chocolate, caramel and a buttery crust…Yep, blessed.


Farewell Photos, Part 4

Yep, there’s a lot of these. Starting to worry I shot enough of them that I’m going to disappoint whoever I forgot. Oh well.

My coworkers. Sally Neville, Delivery; Nancy Bible, Ad Sales; Natalie Berry (expecting young baby Berry near Christmas time. Woo-Hoo!), Classifieds, page design and a lot more; and Jennifer Lewis, circulation manager. Not pictured is Mike Linville, our sports editor. It’s not everyone I’ve worked with. There are some memorable folks missing who are no longer with the Advocate, but these ladies have been amazing to work with. I’m glad to call them my friends. They will be missed.

Yep. Pretty awesome coworkers. You want to know what they did for me on this, my last day there? Pizza, drinks, hanging out. Oh, and Jennifer baked this for me:

*Sniff* I’m gonna miss this place.

Chief John Nicholson of the Flora Police. The Chief has been good to the paper, always filling us in on what’s going on, as much as he can and still be doing his job, which I don’t envy. During the time I’ve been here, I’ve seen a full-scale SWAT demonstration, gotten to try a shoot/no-shoot electronic firearms simulator, and have gotten TASERed (willingly). They have given me some of the more fun stories I’ve been involved with. There have also been stories of tragedies that, necessarily, the police have been involved with as well. I may not remember these as fondly, but throughout it all, I’ll remember how Chief Nicholson and his officers conducted themselves: with courtesy and professionalism, qualities not all departments hold in such high esteem.

Marsha and Graham Dewsbury. Marsha and Graham are correspondents that write and shoot photos for our paper. They have been a joy to work with and most of the time, I end up blowing a lot of time chit-chatting with them. They’re really good folks. After one of the first assignments that I had them do, I came to the office to find a pen and a pin they had given me from the Shriners. I tried to give it back to them and they said, “Oh no, that’s for you.” It’s just the kind of folks that they are. Plus, Graham is a retired culinary teacher and gardener, so we always have a lot to talk about, including me showing him photos here on the blog of stuff I made.

Aubrey Eads. You’ve met Aubrey’s son and daughter before, here and here. Here’s there Mom. Aubrey is a single Mom working a full time job, who is trying to build her photo business too. despite all of this, she seems to have a better handle on things than Meghan and I do together, without kids. Well, without human kids anyways. Aubrey started out as “The red-haired chick at the Movie Gallery,” then became “The red-haired chick at the bank.” I actually got to know her when she took my class, and now shes a friend of Meghan’s and mine. She’s shot our wedding photos, and our anniversary photos as well. So basically, Aubrey rocks.

Kyle Shafer. Former Advocate-Press graphic designer, currently video game playing pal of Alex. Shaf’s da man. Wasn’t sure if I wanted to put this here, because though we’ll be further away, I WILL see Kyle some more. He’s my homeboy. Oh, and you’ve seen his art before too. Here, here, and here.

Here’s a little bonus for you. I sent that picture to Kyle. To show you how far it’s come along, here’s the original:

So I may have done a few things in Lightroom with it. Just auto-levels, really.

I sent him the final above and the original and then, I got this back. Can’t keep an artist down. Here’s Kyle’s “Banksy-ed”  version:

Skull house wants to eat you…

So that’s about it for my farewell pics. I’ve got two more I’m trying to schedule, so I’ll try to get those in. Thank you all for checking them out. Adios!






Farewell Photos, Part 3

Moving right along…

Trevor Bissey. Trevor is the mayor of Clay City. He’s also involved with Clay City’s American Legion and Lion’s Club. One of the things Trevor really does well at is acting as a Booster for his town. In that capacity, Trevor served on the Route 50 Coalition, a group dedicated to seeing U.S. Highway 50 widened to four lanes, as their chairperson. I did a photo for them to use in an ad which I featured here a while back.

The competition. These guys work for the other newspapers in the area. At left is Lindell “Smitty” Smith, of the Clay County Republican; and on the right is Rob West, of the Hometown Journal. See ya, guys. It’s been real.

A few of the members of Chapter 80 of the Disabled American Veterans. Dennis Lousig-Nont, Chuck Schryer, and Sue and Doug Stout. These guys are awesome to work with. They let their guard down near me, tell jokes, have fun, let me know what the real deal is. For that, I do what I can to try and give them good stories and hopefully, help find them volunteer drivers and money for vans (They drive vets to their hospital appointments). So in other words, if you’re reading this, thinking, “I’ve got free time and can drive a van,” CALL THEM UP. And seriously, don’t these folks look like people you’d want to work with?

Stacy Bullard. Stacy is the Chief of the Village of Xenia’s Volunteer Fire Department. He’s another one who I always look forward to working with. Even when he’s busy, even if it’s at the scene of a fire he tries to talk to me. He doesn’t have to; I won’t be insulted, but that’s just how he rolls. Also Xenia Fish Fry: It’s the fire department’s big annual fundraiser. One of the early times I came there, he ferried me around on a gator. We don’t have gators and ATVs and such in the City (Because that would just be too cool), so that was pretty dang awesome.

Steve and Ruthie Welty. The Welty’s are big in the American Legion in Flora, big on honoring our vets, and big on making sure that future vets don’t get marginalized the way so many Vietnam era guys did. Steve has been the post commander. Now I believe he’s District Vice Commander (expect an edit if I mixed that up) and may be working on a state level position sometime. Ruthie founded the Illinois Women Veterans Group here in Flora. For a number of years, they hosted a POW/MIA recognition day, which featured a parade, a meal for POWs, a program and speakers. Lately, Ruthie has helped to found the Shooting Stars Patriotic Drill Team, a healthy activity for young women (and men).







Farewell Photos, Part 2

And now, part 2, in case you couldn’t read the title above…

ESDA (Emergency Services Disaster Agency) Director Steve Lewis. Steve’s a good guy. Always willing to take a few minutes to chat, even when he’s busy. And whooo-boy is he busy. In addition to a day job as a 911 operator, Steve directs this all-volunteer agency which despite the name, handles a lot more than weather. ESDA has storm spotters, reserve policemen, first responders, rescue crews and much more. Lewis organizes this stuff, plans exercises, and just kind of keeps tabs on it all.

Librarians of the Flora Public Library. From Left, Angela Garrett, Tina McCormack, Lindsey West, Joyce Denoncour, Donna Corry, and Deirde Klein. I’ve done numerous stories for the library. Every summer I can count on their summer reading program giving me shots of kids enjoying the cool performers and educators that come there. They continually try to do more with Flora’s Library than I think anyone expects in this size of town. That’s the other reason I’ll miss them though. This is my library! They’ve made it great and I love getting books or movies here, or just taking a walk in and browsing. And always friendly, oh yeah. Nashville’s Public Library has some pretty big shoes to fill.

Bill Atwood. He owns North Wayne Insurance Agency, but more importantly to me, he’s the President of the Flora Academic Foundation, which is a non-profit that gets things for the schools (to grossly oversimplify). Bill is a pretty patriotic fellow, and when I thought of these pictures, Bill’s had to be by the American Flag he puts out in front of his business everyday. Putting it out is, “The first thing we do here every morning,” he says. Bill is a great talker. I don’t mean that as an insult. I generally think of myself as a talker. I can always call him up about something having to do with the FAF and get an eloquent quote that feels more like something someone would think about and write, rather than just blurt out.

Deena Mosbarger. Deena is a project coordinator (I believe) with the Clay County Health Department. She is the one I’m talking to if I need a comment, and come flu season, when I start hearing superstitious nonsense about vaccines causing elephantitis or whatever, she’s the one I call to help me debunk it. Deena has always been a joy to talk to and to be around. Even when it’s not for a story, she lends me a hand, like sending me in the direction of the Hot Biscuit. Thanks Deena!

Oh yeah, there’s a part 3 too. Coming soon…



Farewell Photos, Part 1

I got a new job. Soon, I’ll be working in and moving to Nashville, Ill., where I’ll be taking over as the Managing Editor of the Nashville News. I am, of course, extremely excited.

Flora, where I live now, has been good to me though. I’ve met a lot of folks I’ve liked, mostly through work. I even met my wife here, but she doesn’t count for this, because I’m taking her with me. Sorry Clay County.

Anyways, I decided to do “Farewell Photos” images of some of those folks who I’ve really enjoyed working with and knowing around here. I’ll try to say a bit about each person or group, but who knows where this will go. The only real prerequisite here is that I like this person or group. That said, not everyone I’ve liked is here, so if you aren’t, don’t be offended. Also, this is just the first post, so there’s more to come. Here we go:

Here’s Flora’s Mayor, Bob Tackitt (Right), and Flora’s Economic Development Director Dan Sulsberger (Left). I had a story about these two I always wanted to get into the paper and never really did. Both of these guys are from Flora originally and both of them found themselves serving their country in a small Southeast Asian nation that was most certainly not Flora, around 40 years ago or so. Well, I don’t know if they met up there, how well they knew each other back here at that point or what, but they ended up having serial numbers just one digit apart. Big coincidence in a small world.

Robert Ferguson here. Also known as “Bob” and “Fergy.” Bob always comes into the office to talk to us, B.S., and tell us, literally, about how awesome he is. He got the post office building in town named for him, is a Mason and a Shriner, a member of the DAV, a WWII Navy vet and a whole lot more, which he’d love to tell you about. He’s here because I like chatting with him and because now he can say he’s on the Internet, which I’m guessing he’d love.

Here’s Dave Lewis, or “Buddy” Dave. He’s called that because he calls everyone ‘buddy.’ A lot. If you move to Flora and you don’t have a friend, relax, you’ve got one automatically with Dave. He cruises around town in a cherry Red Ford Mustang with license plates that say “HI UALL,” and he does tons of volunteer work, from what I can see, pretty much all the time. When I took this photo, he was painting fire hydrants. One morning I got up and came out on my front porch to get a “Hey Buddy” from Dave as he was out mowing an elderly neighbors lawn. It’s not to much of a stretch to say that if there were more Dave Lewises, we could do away with things like war and hatred and probably anger. The word ‘buddy’ would get used more than the word ”snow’ by Eskimos though…

Mary Anne and Ron Ayers. These folks are retired but spend much of their time on charitable projects and organizations. Mary Anne is heavily involved with NSDAR, especially with Constitution education (She was a teacher). They both have done a huge amount for the Flora Depot, an old railroad building that renovation has occurred mostly during the time I’ve been in town. Here, they’re standing in the Depot’s museum in front of Hobo Barn Boards, which display carvings hobos would make to let others know whether a town or residence was a good place to stop or not. They also are familiar with my friend Don Morris, whose statue of George Rogers Clark is in front of the Depot.

The Flora Kiwanis include, front row: Dave Barnes, Gerald Klein, and Chuck Schryer. Back row: Jan Phillips, Ted Richardson, Jackie Richardson, and Jill Lewis. Not pictured are Dave and Sarah Hudson. These guys are a relatively small group, as the local non-profits go, who do a lot of different stuff here in town. Kid’s Day Parade, Spring Fling, Flora’s 4th of July Celebration, and they even have a park in Flora they manage and take care of known as “The Rocket Park” by excited children who come from neighboring towns and counties to play there. It’s called that because of a slide shaped like a rocket ship. They do a lot and if you’re volunteer-minded and living in Clay County, I beg you, give these folks a call. They could use a hand, and they are nice folks to be around too.

George Dickinson and Tom Barbee, leaders of Clay County Scout Troop 282. George is the Scoutmaster and Tom is the assistant, but they both are pretty ever-present in the running of the troop. I volunteered for these guys for a while. I got a little disillusioned when I realized being an adult leader in a scout troop is not the same as being a scout. You’re supposed to be responsible for all these 11-18 year-olds who would like nothing better than to see how flammable the woods really are. These guys are great though. When I told him I was leaving town, George looked pretty sad, but gave me the name of a Scout leader in Nashville. “You really ought to get back with the scouts.” I chuckled and said, “Well George, I was kind of thinking Meghan and I might try and make some.” He liked that.

Easter Pictures, belated

Here’s a gallery of pictures I shot for my friend Aubrey of Creative Creations Photography. One of the kids here, “NaNa” was in an earlier post, but now she had to get dressed up nice to get Easter pictures taken with her little brother, Jude.

Zoo Pics (part 1)

With Meghan and I living in Clay County, where she grew up and me being from Chicago, where my parents still live, there are plenty of roadtrips to make. I’m pretty close to my parents and I have a good group of friends I’ve had since High School or earlier that live there, so our trips are usually made on a monthly basis.

This last weekend’s trip was our first since we got married though and while it was for my friend Bill’s bachelor party, my Mother, Mary Sue, said she wanted to take us to Brookfield Zoo, where she is a member. My Dad, Jim, came as well. It was a hot Friday and we arrived at about 11 a.m.

Mom and Dad. Guess which is which!

First thing we did was beat feet for the dolphin show, but I’ll put some of those pics in a later post. Here’s some pictures of us and some animals at the rest of the Zoo. We’ll post dolphins, butterflies and cute kid candids later.

King of the naps.

If that guy is king, I've gotta at least be a baron of naps. Photo by Meghan.

Just because this polar bear is against global warming, doesn't mean he has to like Al Gore.

Sorry, I'm not coming up with anything as far as eagle-based puns to caption this with.

Lot of competition in the arena of napping on hot days at the zoo.

Apparently, even camels aren't huge fans of getting their picture taken while eating.

Here's Meghan. I took this right after me. I think we'll end this post with a picture of one of her favorite animals....

The stately giraffe! Picture by Meghan. That's all, thanks for reading.