PHILLIPS – As Ruthie Rolfsmeyer fills in cracks on a concrete horse, she can’t help but take a moment to appreciate the artist that created the sculpture more than 50 years ago.
“Fred was kind of a live in the moment kind of guy,” said Rolfsmeyer, who was hired to repair statues at Wisconsin Concrete Park in Phillips.
Unfortunately, that live-in-the-now attitude meant Fred Smith’s statue weren’t built to last.
“To think that they’ve lasted this long in this environment is amazing,” said Friends of Fred Smith Executive Director Pam Retzlaff.
Retzlaff wants the works of art to last for generations.
“We have thousands of tours here every year. We have people that come in and want to see what’s happening here,” said Retzlaff.
Thanks to donations, grants, and the Kohler Foundation, Retzlaff was able to hire Rolfsmeyer and Benjamin Caguioa to restore some of the sculptures at concrete park.
“Trying to reinforce any of the structural breaks is the hardest,” said Caguioa.
One horse statue they were working on needed one of its support rods replaced.
“The metal rod that was through the back leg was just completely corroded,” said Rolfsmeyer.
Rolfsmeyer and Caguioa have spent the last three weeks repairing a dozen of the hundreds of sculptures.
“We’ve been mostly stabilizing bases and ankles of the human figures,” Rolfsmeyer said.
They do all this work to keep the legacy of an artist alive for years to come, even if the artist himself wasn’t thinking that far ahead.
ST. GERMAIN – Looking around Kathy Lass’s restaurant in St. Germain, it’s pretty obvious why she and her husband named it the Wolf Pack Café 19 years ago.
“We had a lot of artwork that had wolves on it, so it was a no-brainer,” said Lass. “We took the pictures off the walls of our house and hung them in the café and decided the Wolf Pack Café was it.”
That theme will carry over to the café’s new sign.
“Well, the old one was ready to fall down, so I thought before it hurts somebody I better replace it,” said Lass.
When it came time to replace it, only one artist came to mind.
“I just couldn’t think of anybody else but Kenny Schels,” she said.
Lass knew of Schels work. She’d hired him before to make the sign on the front of the café.
“Wolf Pack Café has a wonderful reputation here. They have a lot of business. It’s a class act, and I think they need a sign on the highway here to match that,” said Schels.
Schels and his team spent Friday carving wolves on top of the new poles that will hold the already completed sign.
“Just, I can’t describe how amazing I thought it looked. It’s beautiful. He actually outdid himself,”
It’s a work of beauty Schels will always be proud of.
“As I drive by this sign probably for the rest of my life, it will put a smile on my face,” he said.
It’s also one that Lass hopes will inspire that same proud feeling in her town.
“Just take pride in your town, that’s all. I think this sign will do it,” Lass said.
RHINELANDER – Wild Instincts Director Mark Naniot hasn’t treated a snowy owl in 20 years. This year he’s had four.
Researchers think an irruption happens after a good breeding year, which usually happens when there’s a high population of their biggest prey, lemmings.
“When I see one I know it came from a very wild place. They spend their summers up in the arctic well north of us, a couple thousand miles north of us. I feel a connection to that place when I see a snowy owl right here in my backyard,” said Brady.
EAGLE RIVER – Take 3,000 blocks of ice, more than 100 volunteers, and a community built on ice and snow, and you’ve got just about everything you need to a build an ice castle.
“This is volunteerism at its best,” said Eagle River Fire Chief Michael Anderson.
The Eagle River Fire Department takes charge of building the ice castle each year.
It takes about five days to score the lake, harvest the ice, sand the blocks, and build the castle.
“Today is my favorite day. Pulling the ice out of the lake is my favorite day,” said Anderson. “It’s intense. You have to get all the ice out in one day. All the guys working together on the ice, doing this with the deadline that we have to meet.”
Nearly 350,000 acres of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest make up Forest County. Tucked away in the northeast corner of the county is Franklin Lake Campground, one of the most popular campgrounds in the forest.
BAYFIELD, WI- For the third year in a row, Martha Schouweiler won the Beargrease Mid-Distance Race in northern Minnesota. She’s the first person to ever do so. This year, she won it by only five seconds.
The snow cancelled my original weekend plans so instead I took advantage of the warm weather and went hiking around northern Wisconsin.
Holmboe Conifer Forest State Natural Area
Copper Falls State Park
EAGLE RIVER – When you meet Adam Lehl, he skips the handshake in lieu of a pen and paper.
“They look at you kind of strange,” said Lehl.
The Wisconsin native asks random people to write their alphabet in his notebook.
“Pick a page, write your alphabet and whatever you’d like to call yourself,” said Lehl.
But that’s just the start of it. Lehl uses it as way to break down barriers and get people to open up to him.
ATHENS– Maple syrup season usually starts about three weeks from now.
But this unusually warm weather has maple sap flowing and maple syrup producers hard at work.
The early start has potential for a great season, but that’s mixed with concern for producers.
MARATHON COUNTY – Summer in Wisconsin doesn’t last long enough for a lot of people. Those of us who love to hike and camp are left trying to squeeze in those adventures in a short time frame.
But some UW-Stevens Point students don’t let the seasons or the snow stop them from enjoying the outdoors.