Memorial Day blooms
One of Meadville's great attractions around Memorial Day each year is a drive through Greendale Cemetery when the rhododendrons are in bloom. Above is the grave of a revolutionary war veteran in among the old flowering trees.
Anna Applegate posted a version of this beautiful photograph of a hummingbird earlier today and it immediately drew me in. This is a harmony of color and tones and very much like a beautiful Japanese print. The like of print that inspired impressionists and especially post-impressionists like Van Gogh and Gaugin. I love this photograph more than you could know. Great work Anna! Check out more of Anna's work at The Nature of Things.
I made this picture the other day just before having to leave for something else. I wasn't sure what happened or even what I was looking at, but I was intrigued and made this photo. On social media I asked the question why were people laughing when it was an obvious injury. I mean the player was carried off the field.
So I asked.
Apparently a hard liner came back and took the legs out from under Franklin pitcher Trinity Edge while I had my lens focussed elsewhere. Folks rushed the field including Franklin's Athletic director/trainer Becky Barnes. As they circled the fallen pitcher I took note that things seemed jovial. So I expected Edge to pop back up and continue pitching. I was surprised a few minutes later when she was carried off the field.
So when I looked at this picture later and saw that I was right, folks were laughing... I had to ask what was going on at that moment. Trinity's mom, Tiffany, replied to my inquiry. "All she was concerned about was her legs needed shaved!" she said.
I love my job!
Her mom said she is OK. Barnes asked why she didn't catch the ball.
Doing good and filling bellies
Thursday morning over 650, 30 pound boxes of food were delivered to Venango County to be distributed to families in need. Sister Tina Geiger, of the Catholic Rural Ministry. heard about a program through the United States Department of Agriculture to distribute food to families who could use a little break during this difficult time.
Local social service agencies across Venango County contacted by Geiger were thrilled to be able to take advantage of this program to provide some needed relief to the families and individuals they serve.
Klapec Trucking offered Geiger a place and manpower to help get these boxes loaded into the couple dozen or so vehicles the representatives brought to the trucking company's location on Route 8. Geiger said she thought each box that contained meat, dairy and some fresh fruit could provide around four good meals to a family. An individual could spread it out even further if needed.
The USDA program "Farmer's to Family" through Coronavirus relief packages begin in 2020 onder then President Trump is in it fifth wave of distribution as a result of continued stimulus money going to the program that both helps American agriculture and communities with people in need. Nearly 180 million boxes of food have been delivered across the country.
Geiger got Venango County on board with this program that delivered a full semi tractor trailor with half being delivered Thursday and the other half being delivered to Oil City schools to distribute to their families.
Geiger said there is a real need in this area.
The Catholic Rural Ministry seeks to help with the communities needs and though this project was largely funded by government relief the ministry still helps with things like gas to get the boxes delivered. They are always in the need of help so they can help others. They've provided much needed assistence to many rural families and individual's in need. They accept donations so they can help even more. Geiger said that donations to help projects like this to help area children and families and be sent to Catholic Rural Ministry, 7 Pulaski Road, Oil City Pa. 16301.
When I think about my photography, I get pretty selfish. I truly want each picture I take to be really good. I admit though, as I grow older, the photograph I capture is less important to me than the life it depicts.
This might sound obvious, but when we are young and in the business of visual storytelling we see images that we think could advance our career. So we grapple with what is appropriate to photograph versus what needs to be seen and what do we need to be present for. One of my great mentors, Jim Stefanucci, who worked over 20 years at The Meadville Tribune, used to say a picture isn't worth a life.
He would tell me this as I was heading out in a snowstorm. In other words, don't risk getting in an accident or worse just to get a photo. The paper will go out if I risk my life and die trying and it will go out even if I don't get a photo.
Jim was (is) wise.
This is a lesson he taught because one of his young photographers didn't return from an assignment once. He died in a car crash heading back to the paper. That stuff stays with you.
No picture is worth a life.
Oddly that lesson came into my head strongly today as I stopped along 322 on my way back to Meadville because I saw two bald eagles in a freshly plowed field. In my experience, because I'm not a nature photographer, bald eagles don't like getting their picture taken. Most of the time when I see one fairly close, they leave before I can get my camera pointed at them.
These seemed weary of me, but didn't just leave even as I approached in my acid green shirt I wore today because it was my dad's and somehow I was missing him (that is another story for another time.)
Anyway, because they didn't leave, at some point in my self-centered voyeurism, I thought.... they are hungry ... and they have this meal.
No picture is worth a life.
I'm not sure what it was they were eating, but because it was a freshly plowed field, I'm guessing it was a groundhog or some other poor sort who couldn't escape the blades of science that slashed their way through what they thought was home. (I wonder if anyone got the Neil Young reference I tossed in there?)
I surmised the field might be littered with dead things for these birds to eat. I did not want to scare them off before they got their fill.
I truly wanted a better photo. I have an astoundingly good nature photographer friend who lives in Montana, who gets wonderful eagle photos from his back porch. I wanted to get one to share with him and show I can do it too! But Jim's words came into my head and I thought these birds are hungry and they need to eat. This wasn't near water, this was easy food and they really needed to eat.
No picture is worth a life.
The first bald eagle I ever saw swooped down onto the bypass in Meadville to pick at road kill. That was nearly 30 years ago now. I admit being disappointed seeing our nation's symbol picking at the remains of a possum that was run over by a car. The bird didn't even hunt it down like a warrior, I thought.
I told that story to a naturalist once who told me that all of the wild prefers an easy meal over a hard meal, our national bird is no different.
I enjoyed this moment today and do wish I had a better photo to share - these are alright, but if I was a jerk they could've been better. Thanks Jim for teaching me things you probably thought I was ignoring. Life is important. No picture is worth a life.
At the beginning of this week I had a news conference style, ribbon cutting-esque, open house toury kind of assignment. We haven't seen many of these types of things since a year ago March when we learned phrases like social distancing and Zoom meetings.
So as I was driving to Oil City for the opening press conference for the new CATA Venango County multimodal hub something odd happened to me. I felt nervous.
I've been doing this stuff for more than a couple decades and after the first dozen or so of these kind of events I haven't felt nervous at all. Maybe because I working only for myself now, I'm not part of a team, I can't rely on someone else to pick up the slack. I knew I'd see other members of the press there. They still have their job and I would be there trying to do what they are doing, get information and make a series of photos.
I began to wonder if I was still working at the paper still would my approach be different?
Not really I thought.
So I relaxed and went about my job. It's sorta like riding a bicycle. But then I remembered my dad getting on a bkie for the first time in decades and demolishing one of mom's flower beds. I always feel like I struggle at these events, they typically aren't very exciting, talking heads at podiums followed by controlled tours of empty rooms. But I have a photographer's ego so I want to take a moment that will win awards.
And there is always some moment that happens that if I'm ready for it, will encapsulate the event or at least key parts of the event. Being ready is the key, we see more photos than we capture. Always.
As i began working this event I had a background knowledge of how this came to be and what it was.
This is a $10 million building in Oil City constructed on a fairly expensive parking lot that was built only a few years ago. When it was constructed it was next to an unsafe and no longer used parking garage that has since been torn down. This new building got off to a rough PR start because it was decided that the new parking lot should be the site of this new building and where the parking garage was would become a new parking lot.
The big government haters had a field day, and still do. But the project went forward with a plan that everyone involved seemed to agree was the bast plan. All of this I knew, but wasn't sure if it mattered this day or not. The new multimodal hub is now completed sans some landscaping and finishing touches. The shiny new building was ready to be shown off.
The scheduled event Monday was a big deal for Venango County, that owns the building. It was a big deal for CATA, that will use the facility for maintenance and storage of the their fleet. It was a big deal for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that will also be able to use the facility and who has taken a lot of the heat for the parking lot issue.
This was a big enough of a deal that the deputy secretary for the state DOT made the trip from Harrisburg to tour the facility and speak to those in attendance. And it is a big deal for Oil City to have this development downtown where new things seem hard pressed to happen.
As I worked, my nervousness turned into not wanting to get in the way of my colleagues from other media and searching for ways to layer information. The event organizers put a CATA bus on an angle so that it had a visual beyond just the new building. I determined that this would be my best bet for the speakers. As a visual story teller though I try to avoid redundancies and taking the same picture over and over again doesn't serve the subject nor the reader well. If we bore them, they'll miss the information.
But there I was taking every speaker virtually the same way, in profile with the CATA logo in the background. Normally I would only use one of thos images in my report, but I photograph the key players to later determine which would be the best to use. In this case I felt CATA director Tim Geibel's picture probably best suited this background. I also photographed commissioner Sam Breene, Deputy Secretary Jennie Granger and PennDOT District 1 Executive Brian McNulty the same way. At that time I wasn't sure who would be the best fit for the story.
As the speakers went about their planned discussion points I tried a few different things. I started pulling out the art. Not just simple documentation, but looking at the different things around, signs, the unfinished landscaping, behind the speaker etc... Try different things to avoid redundancies. Nothing really buttered my toast, however. So I settled back into looking at what was available to me that directly ties to the story. And I documented that.
At one point I even decided I couldn't worry about being in the way and crawled up front. I had a photo I liked but a slipped mask from one of the speakers made me question the appropriateness of using that photo. If the mask was purposely down to make a stance or a point, then I wouldn't question using the photo, but that wasn't the case and no need to get someone in hot water because I was unethically trying to dig at authority.
No gotcha journalism from me unless you deserve to be got.
Making compelling truthful images in a controlled setting is sometimes difficult. It takes patience and the ability to be at the ready in a split second. Sure its easy to make a picture of an event. It's even easy to make several pictures of an event, you can include a lot of details inside your frame and document that something happened at this time and in this space.
But what do the pictures say and what life is in them? This is a huge criteria for me--what life is in the photograph?
Good photojournalists take the mundane and find that little moment that encapsulates the life that makes up the story. And it is always there if you are willing to put in the time.
For me that meant, going on the tour and looking at the empty rooms. I wasn't excited about going on the press leg of the tour, but did and made a few frames, but it was at the end when the next tour of real folks happened by that I jumped in and got a little more excited. Some of those key players where there talking to business and civic leaders as well as the commissioners and Sen. Scott Hutchinson. I began documenting this with the facility in the background.
I knew I had the key players at the podium from before, but here was my shot at getting something real and meaningful with real interaction from the people on tour. Tim Geibel and Dep. Sec. Granger were leading this tour. I still hadn't looked yet to see what I had from the podium photos, so I really worked getting photos of both of them on this tour. I had switched to my cell phone to be a little more mobile and a little less scary pointing my big ole cameras at them hoping to document real moments. It worked.
Geibel was gesturing as he spoke. I love animated speakers. I had a few I liked and one I thought I really liked until I looked at it later and realized his gesture could be misconstrued. I knew that would be out of contention if I were putting these into the newspaper. I only include it here to show how we think as we are communicating visually. Sometimes we have to overthink what we see and record in order to be fair. When I was younger I might not have had the same concern. In the end I felt Geibel at the podium would be the best image of him to use.
So now I wanted to focus on Granger who came a very long way to celebrate this accomplishment. She is less animated than Geibel but I noted how she would look folks in the eye when she spoke to them and not at them. A photograph I made from the side without a lot of backround to it really showed this about her.
I had another where she was further away from the camera and that showed more of the garage with Granger speaking. I felt this would be a toos up if I were giving the photos to my editors back at the paper.
A lot of thought goes into covering events in our community whether they are closed to the public or big open festivals. Wanting to make compelling images, even when the subject is a new building and some politiciams and other officials who want a moment of time to boast, is a responsibility I think of a journalist. I really try to take that seriously.
Having said that, I like this kinda funny picture of a former colleague of mine at The Derrick, who was recently hired by PennDOT as the new Safety Press Officer. He was looking at some equipment one of the speakers was pointing out to Oil City Mayor Bill Moon and the County Commissioners.
The final stages of the project are expected to be completed soon.
From the event press release:
The project was funded through the Federal Transit Administration (80 percent), PennDOT Bureau of Public Transportation (19 percent), and Venango County (1 percent). The contract cost is $10 million.
The contractors on the facility are Hudson Construction, Inc. of Hermitage, PA; Renick Brothers Construction Co. of Slippery Rock, PA; Wm. T. Spaeder Co., Inc. of Erie, PA; and Westmoreland Electric Services, LLC of Tarrs, PA. Johnson Mirmiran and Thompson (JMT) and Michael Baker International provided design and construction management support, respectively.
A page of pictures of the project throughout the process are available online at www.penndot.gov/District1 by clicking on the Construction Projects/Roadway link under the Resources heading and choosing the Venango County tile then Multimodal Transit Facility Project.
Motorists can check conditions on major roadways by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras.
511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
I've watch this crow(or a crow) everyday for three days in a row(or maybe it was three days over four) come flyin' up the road squawking up a storm and landing on this branch across the street, but above the roof on my house. For two of those days shortly after anoth crow comes up a few seconds later and seems to encourage this crow to follow and thay fly around the tree and head west still squawking.
So when I decided to go get my camera yesterday(no surprisingly I don't carry it 24/7) I was surprised it was still perched there when I returned.
So then with camera in hand I sorta explored my yard trying to summon my inner Anna Applegate, the auther of The Nature of Things blog that we share here at Eight & 322
I love her column each week because she is a tremendous researcher, fun writer and her photos take us through the moment of her journeys with her posse that consists of two goats and three dogs that could also be described as small horses. And she sprinkes in her cat adventures as well.
So yesterday I just did what I could to channel for all of ten minutes or so Anna with the working mantra echoing in my brain...what would Anna do? I found a few things that I felt captured what Anna looks for. Later on in the day while out on my day chasing stories i made a cell phone photo of this dandelion globe. It made me think of my friend Tiffany who I did a story on a few years back about her dealing with trauma. She identifies with the dandelion because of its resilience. She said you can blow me away and destroy me, but I'll just keep coming back stronger. I loved thinking about that making this cell phone photo.
Please visit The Nature of Things and share it around. Anna is pretty prolific with sometime two columns a week when she isn't swamped with over time at work.
Severing my vows of poverty
"I just want 40 cows and make a living, that sounds right to me"
-Lance Mitchell, Mitch Hill Dairy
The above quote has really stuck with me since I did an up-date story on the Mitch Hill Dairy a few months ago. What Lance Mitchell said is really what it is all about. I want to do what I do well and just make a living, I don't want to worry endlessly about stuff.
I am lucky, I was able to do that for over 20 years. I didn't get paid well, but I made a living doing what I love to do. I didn't worry about a paycheck and I was able to pay my bills in a relatively timely manner.
Then....well let's just say... I am worrying a little more now. As my layoff from the Derrick seemed to become more and more permanent and the reality that unemployment cannot last forever, I realized I might need to rethink who I am a bit.
Yes, I started doing stories on my own almost immediately after being handed a pink slip. I was on top of it all. I was honing my story telling skills, but, deep down, I was still expecting to return to the paper. I love that newspaper. So I wasn't trying to collect any kind of advertising or sponsorships at first.
Many people began to offer to help. I was doing ok, COVID relief funding was buying me time so I could simply just return to work. When that began to run out I started a little fundraiser to get me jump started to put out a print product prototype. But then there was an extension to relief and around that time I suffered a bit of an injury that also set me back.
I knew it was time to get my ass in gear and get my life focussed on the next thing. Start a newspaper(even I chuckled at this notion), go back to studio photography, enter the world of professional lawn bowling, become a pauper living on the street or ask mom if she needed a roommate down in Florida.
The last is always an option because... well... mom loves me.
But it really isn't an option for me, neither is becoming homeless. I'm a good lawn bowler(true story) but not much of a living to be made in this country. I love photography and storytelling so a studio also isn't appealing, though likely more profitable than my other options.
So starting a newspaper was my only real direction. Lord knows a real job wouldn't be good for me.
But... business! I am of the ilk that thinks the word "business" is about as scary as words like "scorpion," or "incoming," or "A-bomb." Add "owner" to the end of that word and you just introduced me to the devil, or is that an IRS auditor?
I like to to work, I don't like to think about how to make work...you know...work. The idea of being a "business owner" seemed absurd.
Many friends have offered help and assistance but I have one major flaw, I don't know how to accept help. I really don't. To me I dug the hole so now I need to find what to plant in it. Asking others burdens them. I truly know it does.
In stepped my friend and the queen of Franklin, Ronnie Beith. I won't say she forced me to do something I didn't want to do, but she firmly suggested it is something I need do and basically signed me up for a class.
Yes, a business class. She got me to confront my demon.
She had started the Small Business Jump Start program years ago and it has helped countless businesses around the region. You'd be hard-pressed to find a business in Franklin that hasn't dipped at least a toe or two into the waters of this program.
Gary Svetz, an entrepreneur and business consultant runs the classes now and for the last nine weeks, give or take, I have joined a small group every Thursday to learn what we need to really be thinking about if we're serious about putting out our own shingle.
Gary asked us at one point what our product was and I hesitated. I write stories and make photographs and hope people care. Is hat a product? I am in over my head I thought! He said it is a service and therefore a product.
As the class progressed I began to understand the gestalt of money conceptualization. What seemed foreign was beginning to break down into some pieces that seem a little more manageable - if I keep it simple. And at first that is how Gary suggests keeping it. "You need to make money before you worry about that." he'd say. We all have fears. He broke those down into little things that looked like little things instead of Everest-sized hills.
Learning what cash flow means and how people will work with you as long as you eventually can pay them was important, but emphasis is still on paying them. A service is, in a sense, a product. Hugely important knowledge, And that worth isn't something to be ashamed of, though I think a couple of us in the class are still struggling with that. We have worth. Lets make this a mantra!
If you have something people need or want, only getting in your own way will bring about failure.
So I'm taking my skeptical, afraid little self and pushing him aside. I am going to send forward with a hearty pat of good luck on the back, my confident self-assured, camera in hand self. I am severing my vows of poverty right here, right now.
We'll see where this goes. I just want to keep telling this community's story.
So, this community either has, or will soon have, eight brand spanking new businesses.
In this class we had an interesting group of folks I'd like to introduce below. These photos were from our graduation night.
Mindy and Repair Massage Studio were a feature story I did this week as well. I hope to do a feature story on all of my classmates as new business offerings in Franklin and surrounds as I move forward. Check out Mindy's story here!
Aaron Luce was without question the coolest person in the class. He is in the music business which fascinates me in that he's here in Franklin. In this day and age you can be anywhere, right? I'm looking forward to sitting down with him to do a story because in a country western county we have a legit hip-hop, rapper, rhythm and blues dude. The other night I was playing his clips on instagram and was like, "dude I gotta go to bed" but I kept listening to one more.
He is planning to keep recording his own stuff, but wants to offer a chance for people in every genre of music a chance to explore their talent and record some music with his help. He even said he could make me sound good. Not sure I'll give him quite that challenge just yet. Check out his work at www.instagram.com/bammerski/
And then there is me. Here I am holding the cookie that Holly made for me and I admit i almost cried a little. That was so nice of her. If I wasn't socially awkward I would've thanked her better for it. As I've said, I just want to keep telling stories about the communities around Franklin and Venengo County with a few getting up into Crawford and other places. I am fascinated by the lives of people and every single one of us has something that adds to the fabric of society if we're willing to give it to others. I am lucky that an old teacher put a camera in my hand, that I loved watching Charles Kuralt, that my grandfather was a character and that good people saw something in me to push to where I am right now. I have a vision that comes from a long line of documenting the places we live, and that is what I want to do.
You can check out my blog here. But I guess you're already there if you made it this far.
Congrats to my fellow Small Business Jump Start students and new friends. I hope you succeed and I hope to be able to tell more about your successes over the years.
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When you have car problems you go to someone who understands automobile mechanics. If you have issues with your body it's a good idea to find someone who understands body mechanics. Mindy Richards has a lot of knowledge in her head about how everything is connected. She has a lot of schooling behind her including a class where she saw up-close and personal how the body works. She started out as an athlete who wanted to become an athletic trainer, but somewhere along the way discovered massage was her calling.
Richards admits even though she did her high school senior project on message therapy, she did it because she thought it would be easy and her mom knew a practitioner. But looking back, what she learned seemed to set her on a path. The 2004 Franklin High graduate got her massage therapy degree from Pitt-Titusville two years later. She took a cadaver's class and knows exactly where the muscles attach and what they look like from the inside. "I have seen the muscles," she said as she worked on long-time client Liz Kruck of Grove City.
She continued her education and in 2013 earned a bachelors degree with a concentration in health and fitness. The mother of three knows what muscles are doing and why they ache. More importantly she has learned how to relieve those aches and pains for others.
"Whereever she goes I will follow," said Kruck who joked that moms are Richards biggest clients. Richards does have a lot of mom clients, but also athletes and others who need help feeling better. Over the years she has worked on several athletes including an 11 year-old russian gymnast when she lived in Colorado. She has been working for a few years in Meadville, but is starting venture out to get her own clients and bring her know-how to Franklin.
Last week she opened up her own studio on the second floor of the Liberty Vault building at 1243 Liberty Street, where she is now accepting new clients.
To learn more about her services and how she utilizes Spontaneous Muscle Release Technique (SMRT) to help her clients feel better visit her website at https://www.repairmassage.com/home. Booking can be done online. She also shares a lot on Facebook and you can follow her here.
Side note of interest in the businesses supporting business category. Richards uses olive oil that she get downstairs and around the corner at the Olive Vault.
Like more stories about your community, become an Eight & 322 sponsor like Buffalo Street Lanes, just email us at email@example.com for details
Best kept secret in Venango County
Updated Aug. 4, 2021
Penny Weichel has changed the name of her website to www.route8rivalry.com It will be changed in the story below as well. Weichel continues to update and add to this wonderful history of Venango sports. And follow her on Twitter @FootballVenango for what's going on everyday.
It seems the rickety old ticket booths at the entrance to Venango County high school football stadiums are as close to the pearly gates as it can get for longtime sports writer and editor Penny Weichel. "I love Friday night lights. I love the ambiance... when it doesn't rain... that's my idea of heaven," she said.
It's possible that is why she is still elbow deep into Venango high school sports in 2021, more than eight years after she retired from The Derrick and News-Herald.
"January 23, 2013."
She, like every great statistician, remembers the exact day.
This attention to detail is why she is still combing old articles to find stats that may have been missing in old reports. One of her missions is to see if Red Law actually was the best we've ever had. Law held many records for decades, but Weichel thinks his numbers might be better than what the school records indicate, especially since records weren't kept as well back in the day. She searches archive after archive to see if yardage or points are missing from the record book totals.
What drives her attention for details after all these years? Why would a retired sports editor in her 70s care?
Because she does.
She began a website to basically have a place for everything Venango County football has to offer.
route8rivalry.com has some feature stories and just about every statistic you can think is important. Maybe even ones you don't think are important. It's loaded with information.
"I do it because I want to, because I like to do it," she said. "It's not unusual for me to get up at 2 a.m. to update the website." She is also quite active on Twitter and follows many of the local squads, tweeting and retweeting results.
Her website now serves as a place for information and research. "It's the best kept secret in Venango County," she laughed. Not a ton of daily traffic, but she had thousands of clicks over the years.
She wants the site to be a valuable archive.
And it is.
Need to know if a 98-yard run is a county record? You can look on the website and see Noah Petro holds record that from just a few years back as well as who else had long runs. You can also check on rivalries and who has the most career yards.
Guys like Red Law, who in the early 60s was a site to behold with a pigskin, are benefitting historically from her dedication. Weichel said she has been looking through newspaper archives because his freshman through junior years are unrecorded in his official record. But since he is only about a thousand yards off the all-time leader, she thinks Law could be the top.
She won't rest until she finds those unaccounted yards.
Weichel spent her youngest years leaving near the Phillies, and has remained a devout fan ever since. "When they had their 23 game losing streak, I listened to every inning."
She came to Franklin when her dad became a school administrator. She graduated from Franklin High School and ventured on to Robert Morris and Penn State universities.
After college, she took job at The Derrick in Oil City and soon after became one of the first female sports editors ever. In 1971, "female sports editor" wasn't exactly in the dictionary. In 2021, it's still not commonplace.
But to her, it wasn't about being a woman in the sports world, it was just about the sports. She didn't carry the mantle for female athletics, she was a journalist reporting. It was up to female athletics to rise or not, and when they did, she took note.
The Cranberry girls basketball team in the 90s caught her attention. A game against Corry stands out among the accomplishments of that team. "I swear, they played a perfect game that night," she said. She recalled contemplating her story for the next day's paper, and feeling the weight of her job. "How can I explain [what I just witnessed] to our readers? You had to see it."
But she did, she wrote about that game and entered it into the annals of history. And she documented thousands of other match-ups too.
In recent years, she has been particularly impressed watching the Oil City football team. "I wish I could've gone to the games last year," she said noting this run has been pretty impressive and special. Though she prefers being in the stands, she is thankful for the live feeds on the internet during COVID-19.
One thing that has helped Weichel maintain her pursuit of sports stats over the years is how she embraced new technology. At the paper she lavished in technology to do her job better. Now she is a big proponent of using Twitter. Her @Venango Football account has a few hundred followers and her live game posts get retweeted all the time.
in 2020, when sports were basically cancelled and her former employer was trying to figure out how to fill sports pages without sports going on, she stepped up and wrote several history pieces to help fill the void.
Those trips down memory lane are exactly why her website is such an incredible resource and a gem for local high school sports.
Visit her website at https://www.route8rivalry.com and see where your kid, or dad, or grandpa fits into the Venango County record books. And if you can't find someone you think should be there and have proof, give her a tweet. Especially if you have Red Law's missing years.
I went to Franklin High School Friday night and wondered why there weren't cars in the parking lot. I thought... I just photographed some kids in the park getting their photos taken, surely the prom was still on?
Little did I realize, aaaaaaaaand I didn't ask the folks at the park what school they go to, but those kids were Oil City kids and not Franklin.
So it was cool, I went to cover Oil City that night and was able to return to Franklin tonight.
It was a blast, I started out at the park again, this time I asked. And made a few photographs before heading back up to the Franklin parking lot. This time it was packed with cars.
Now, I'm going to admit my age a little here, I'm whooped.
As I put this post together my old bones are aching and I realize I don't have another hour or two to go through all my photos from tonight, So I just went through and grabbed a dozen or so to share tonight and will get the rest out in the near future. I took a lot, because it was just fun. A little touch that life might be getting closer to being something that resembles 2019 and before.
You can click on the pictures below to enlarge.
More to come later.
Never assume, but carry on
I'm not sure why,,, I mean the park is beautifu,l but I would think someplace in Oil City or Cranberry would be more meaningful.
But that is me deflecting. The fact is I posted a photo earlier where I said Franklin students get ready for their prom on a chilly night. I assumed. I did not ask and therefore was completely wrong.
Journalism 101. FAILED! I blame COVID!
Anyway once I got it all settled out, I found myself up behind Oil City High School where there was a giant white tent set up and inside were a bunch of hopping teens dancing to a bunch of music I'm too old to understand.
I immediately saw the principal who requested I be very aware that the rules for this prom requires the students wear their mask. No problem.
You try dancing without your mask falling.
I made photos and the more I looked at my images someone was always trying to pull their mask back up into place.
These are young people trying to have a good time. All winter and spring I've photographed sporting events where masks were under chins. Those events went on. So why not the rite of passage that comes with a prom?
I ended up tossing my best photos from the night because it is simply impossible to keep a secure mask while having fun dancing. Even I had to drop my mask below my nose (I'm fully vaccinated) because my damn glasses were fogging up so much I couldn't see. So i kept my distance and hotgraphed with a long lens as best I could.
The prom king was Lorin DeGroat and the queen was Jenna Fischli.
Other than the masks and the pumped in heat, this prom had many of the same features as any other, dancing, music old people don't get, not enough light to make really easy photos and a chance for teenagers to be teenagers.
Franklin's prom is scheduled for tonight outside next to the football stadium.
Pre-prom in Fountain Park
Edited 9 p.m. (This old journalist committed the rookie mistake of assumption.)
High schoolers are about to start their outside chilly prom night. A tradition of getting pictures at the park kicked off the evening. Check back later for more photos from the night.
"Bike Shares can be effective in smaller, rural communities to increase mobility and provide options for people who do not want to drive."
-CATA Bike Share website
CATA will have a table and representatives with more information about the program at the Market House tomorrow during Second Saturday. Geibel said they are testing the program out in Meadville before hopefully expanding it to other area communities including Franklin, Titusville and Oil City.
How it works
The bikes are located in racks at key locations around the city. The back wheels are locked preventing anyone from riding them with out unlocking the wheel using a smartphone. Following the instructions on information signs at each station the bikes can be unlocked and the electronic payment given. The rider can ride for a couple bucks an hour and return the bike to any one of the designated bike racks around town.
If the bike is left somewhere and not returned the meter keeps running and the rider's card will be charged, Geibel indicated.
For more information visit: https://www.catabus.org/meadville-bike-share or pop by the Market House Saturday.
Geibel said he wanted to get a few bikes out to see what interest there might be before launching full-bore.
Without knowing it, the readers of the Derrick and News-Herald were given the gift of a brilliant empathetic soul for over 20 years. Reader's seldom realize as they consume words that those words are incredibly important to the writer too. Some writers, like Sheila Boughner, don't just write words, they craft sentences in order to help us understand the world around us. She would agonize over her stories wanting them always to be accurate and helpful to the community. She brilliantly broke numbers down into understandable bits that we could understand and thus, be informed. When she left the paper in the spring of 2016 it was devastating. Few crafted sentences or researched information better.
But the paper's loss was the city of Franklin's gain as she then went on to help project after project come to fruition.
Sheila was injured very badly in February when she was struck by a car. She passed away yesterday.
I met Sheila in March of 2015 and we worked together for a little more than a year. I remember vividly the first story I worked on with her. It was about a month into my starting at the paper. It was a ballet dance class in Franklin. We didn't really have a clear focus for a story other than they were preparing for a spring dance recital.
I made my pictures and was very happy with them. I showed the photos to Sheila back at the office and she mentioned struggling with how to approach the story. She had written about 20 inches but didn't have the angle she wanted to tell a story.
She said looking at the photos helped but she needed to step away from it and wasn't sure she'd finish it before the end of her day. I needed to know if she would get it finished because I had put all my eggs into one basket and if it wasn't going to be ready the next day I would have to go find something else for the front page. She printed out what she had written and left the office for a smoke, story in hand.
After a little while I walked out to ask her how it was going. She was sitting on the picnic table reading over her story with a long ash on her cigarette. She was occasionally dragging from the cigarette as she grapped with the words. She then did something that surprised me. She asked me to read her storyand give her feedback. This was a PhD in English asking a photographer who struggles not to end sentences with prepositions for his thoughts.
I was honored.
I read the feature story over and as I got toward the end a quote and a phrase really just struck me. I told her I thought the story was fine, but the end was the part that grabbed me the most and thought it should be the lede.
Again, this PhD in English, looked at this photographer who says things like "words is hard" and her eyes lit up and said "that's it!" She went back in and in less than 20 minutes she was packing up for the day -page one story done and ready for the editor. She didn't make it her lede, but reorganized the story so it really flowed and gave context to why we were telling it.
Those are moments of team work we seldom get a chance to see or understand. Certainly we struggle to take time to appreciate them because we just move on to the next story.
It's what we do.
Sheila and I worked on a dozen or more stories together over the next year before she left the paper. We had really begun talking a lot about beer in that year. I found out she took old six-pack holders and used the artwork to put on ornaments and coasters. I gave her quite a supply of craft beers that I collected happily for her. We joked that I should try water once in awhile.
So the night before her last day at work we went out for a beer. She always said to me that she only drinks one, but we were in the basement bar of The Franklin and had a nice draft beer that she liked. We ended up having two, well, Sheila only had half of her second. She realized that she still had to get home and let her dog out. I was truly going to miss this new friend and colleague I grew to trust and admire as a journalist.
Over the next few years we would cross paths again and again after she took the job with the city of Franklin.
One time, I remember walking around the Franklin city building feeling a bit down. I needed a feature photo and just wasn't finding anything. I decided to try to make something with the reflective windows of the building. As I struggled, out popped Sheila who was laughing. She said the people inside were having fun watching me "lurking" around squinting and looking in the windows. I must've looked like a creeper peering in the windows as I combed the the reflections hoping to find a photograph.
I didn't have any luck making a picture I was happy with, but enjoyed seeing my friend and coaxing her into another selfie with me.
Another time I ended up in her new office. I noted that her desk resembled her dest at the Derrick. She employed the ordered chaos theory of keeping her desk papers. We laughed when she pointed out a very distinct difference from her desk at the Franklin City building and her old desk at the paper. "That stack over there represents a $150,000 project, that one. $80,000," she said pointing to two foot high stacks over by the window.
She said the work was hard, but rewarding. I imagined, knowing how she approached her work at the paper, that she was very good at what she was doing.
I will miss my friend greatly. Those chance encounters were gold nuggets for me. Her brilliance and curiosity was always refreshing. She always had a story idea or two to pass on.
The last time I saw her was appropriately at the beer distributor. It was a week before the accident and I actually convinced her to buy not one, but two extra six-packs because she couldn't decide which one she wanted more. I even helped carry them to her car.
I will miss you Sheila.
After a long hard day
This was taken with my big boy camera and a 300mm lens, by the time I stopped fiddling with my cell phone and tried to get a different lens for a better shot I lost the moment.
Nathan Luzier's father, Christopher, stood up at the end of the funeral for his son and told the crowd gathered on the infield of the Rocky Grove baseball field that he was at a loss for words. He explained to them that Nathan choose to live where he wanted. He could've lived in Meadville with his dad or Rocky Grove with his mom. "He chose to live here," he said looking at the hundreds of people in attendance. "And today I can see why."
The ceremony for Nathan was held very near third base where he spent a lot of time shagging ground balls and gunning throws over to first as he played youth baseball. Nathan died Tuesday from injuries sustained in an automobile accident not far from his home. Not too far from the ball field where he laid Saturday.
During the hour-long service several folks got up to say a few words including his third-grade teacher Bill Wilson, who is also a longtime Rocky Grove baseball coach. Wilson talked about how Nathan was a team leader and the importance of being a team in everything in life to the other players in attendence.
It was obvious that Nathan loved baseball and being outdoors, so it was fitting to hold the service at the Orioles home firld
Pastor Randy Powell oversaw the ceremony. He said it was his first funeral for someone under 40 and certainly the first on a baseball field. Gardinier Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
At the end of the ceremony guests were asked if they wanted to write a note on Nathan's casket. Many did as more tears were shed and hugs of support surrounded family and friends.
At the end, Nathan's teammates and coaches were the pallbearers. As they carried Nathan off the field they paused at home plate for a moment.
The community said goodbye to own of their own.
Seemed like Franklin again
May Garden Mart kicks off what hopes to be a fuller year than last for Franklin's downtown. The two day festival, which was spread out over both downtown parks this year to help spread people out continues Sunday.
Here are some of the sights from Saturday morning.
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