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For as long as he can remember, Dakota Carter has been obsessed with fishing.
The 17-year-old Ashland High School student from Marengo can recall innumerable fishing trips with his father, Ron Hmielewski.
"I fished with my grandpa and my dad; it's just something you do around here," said Hmielewski, who passed that tradition onto his own son.
Carter just does it, too — to the tune of eight master angler awards for the different trophy catches he has made in his career.
The awards were made through the Wisconsin Interscholastic Fishing Association, the governing body for the more than 120 school-based fishing teams in Wisconsin.
Carter has been a member of the Ashland High team since it was founded when he was a freshman.
"It's just fun; it is a thrill to have a fish on the end of your line," Carter said. "You just want to reel it in and see what it is."
Being on the fishing team brings rewards beyond the WIFA trophies. Carter loves being on the water with friends, seeing who can catch the most and the biggest fish, and competing with other schools.
He has had more than his share of success as an angler. The eight fish he has caught that have met the minimum length requirement of the program include a 22-1/2 inch whitefish, a 12 1/2-inch yellow perch, a 19-1/2-inch smallmouth bass, a 12 1/2-inch crappie, a 26-inch walleye, a 25-inch red-horse sucker, and a
The program recognizes 34 fish species commonly caught in Wisconsin.
Carter's latest catch is a 39 1/4-inch lake trout that weighed in at 25 pounds, caught in the Apostle Islands area of lake Superior.
"I was out fishing with my brother Holden with my friend Scott Bochler and his dad," Carter recalled.
"We just had the poles set up and I saw my pole was bouncing up and down," he recalled.
Grabbing the rod and setting the hook, he knew immediately he had a big fish on the line.
"It wasn't pulling hard, but it wasn't coming up, either," he said.
The struggle with the unyielding fish took about 20 minutes, as Carter battled what he knew was one of the largest fish he had ever tangled with.
"When it came to the surface, it was still shaking its head," he said, which required some careful management with rod and reel to keep from losing the magnificent lake trout.
After measuring and weighing the fish, Carter thought about having it mounted, but because of the $700 cost and the fact that one of his friends had caught an even larger fish, he decided to smoke it and eat it instead.
In a couple of weeks, Carter will head out with his friend Scott Bochler for a fishing trip on Lake Michigan. He hopes to add a salmon or two to his trophy list.
Hmielewski said that he is very proud of his son's angling accomplishments
"He's a good fisherman," he said, admitting that there was a friendly competition on whenever they hit the water.
"I'm still the better fisherman," he said.
"He's a good fisherman, but I'm better," Carter immediately replied.
Another of Carter's fans is his stepmother Marsha DeGarmo-Hmielewski.
"I've loved fishing since I was a little girl, and it is a blast to go fishing with him," she said.
Fishing techniques and tactics are something that Carter is has happy to pass along. Approaching his senior year at Ashland High School, he's become a mentor for younger anglers in the fishing club, said coach Tom Westlund of Ashland.
"He has been an exemplary role model, and a good steward of our resources," he said. "He is an extremely humble young man. We've been extremely fortunate to have him on our team for the past three year, and now going into his fourth year."
Westlund said that as Carter has mastered angling skills that enabled him to garner an impressive list of trophy catches, he has also picked up something perhaps more important — life skills such as leadership and the willingness to pursue his passions.
As he approaches his final year of high school, Carter said he isn't sure what path he will follow when he graduates. At this point he doubts that it will include college, but may involve one of the trades, or perhaps going to work for his dad at his firm, Landscape Creations and Wreath Company.
But wherever it is, the job will have to include enough free time to pursue his passion.
"There's got to be fishing, that's for sure," he said.
For more than half a century, Raymond "Pucky" Nye has lived with a single abiding passion: to play music, and more specifically, rock and roll.
It is a passion that has seen him and the band he started, Badge, tour throughout the upper Midwest and earn a pair of regional best-selling records. And it's a passion that continues to this day.
As a child Nye fell in love with the guitar after watching The Beatles perform. He took two guitar lessons, but his teacher said he'd never play the instrument well because of a double-jointed thumb.
"I'd start playing and then cramp up, so they said to pick another instrument," Nye said.
He tried the saxophone, but his heart was still with the guitar, so instead of quitting the instrument, he quit the teacher.
"I bought a cheap guitar and basically taught myself," he said.
Within six months of beginning to play he formed his first band. By age 13 he was playing gigs.
The gigs paid a lot better than most young teens their age could make, he recalled.
"Some of my friends had paper routes, but I would make more in one night playing at the youth center or a high school than they would make all month peddling papers," he said.
A career playing local beer joints grew to playing in other communities and eventually finding an agent to handle their bookings. As their reputation for crisp, hard-driving rock grew, they began to open for groups such as Tommy James and the Shondells, The Fifth Dimension, Boston and Ricky Nelson. They also traveled with The Grass Roots.
It was on tour with The Grass Roots that Badge got its name. Nye said the band has gone through about 25 members but always with him as their front man and main vocalist. They have been known as Little Creation, The Mystics, The Living Dead, Black Death and finally Shotgun.
It was as Shotgun that they went on tour with the Grass Roots. One day as band members were relaxing on a rare night off in a hotel in Bismarck, S.D., with members of The Grass Roots, Nye got a call from their agent, who said the band had to change names as another band named Shotgun had released an album that hit the Billboard Top 100.
It was Grass Roots lead vocalist Rob Grill who suggested the names Badge and Thumb, but it turned out Thumb was already taken.
In their time the group has had a couple of regional hits, including a cover of The Grass Roots "Glory Bound" backed with their own "She Put Me Down." The songs are crowd favorites and still get played by the band. Their second hit was a novelty song called "Boogie 'til You Puke."
But it's not the regional hits that have defined Nye's career. It is the hundreds of gigs he and Badge have played throughout the region.
For more than four decades Nye and Badge have entertained crowds throughout the region, playing rock standards for new generations of fans.
That has had an impact in the communities where Badge has become a regular institution.
"Pucky has become Ashland's musical son," former band member Gary Jaskowiak said. "He was and still is the man."
Jaskowiak, who now lives in Portland, Ore., said none of the band members anticipated the kind of success the band enjoyed in its heyday.
"It was a case of being in the right place at the right time," he said, noting that Nye's organization and managerial skills were as important as the considerable talent the band brought to the stage.
One of the newest members of the band, Tom Marincel of Ashland, said Nye "is the glue that has held Badge together for these 40 some years."
Marincel said it wasn't the fact that they were once a touring band that keeps them popular with fans, many of whom weren't even born when Badge was at its height.
"It's the fact that they were still hometown guys who came back to town," he said. "They didn't go to LA."
Another factor, Marincel said, is the passion with which the band approaches its music, something that is particularly true for Nye.
"He has a passion for music that you just can't kill," he said
Nye, who has survived life-threatening bouts of liver disease and oral cancer, said that passion is one of the things that kept him going in the bad times and keeps him going today.
"I intend to keep playing as long as I am physically able to," he said. "Music, along with my family, is my life."
The Ashland Police and Fire Commission set a timeline for selecting a new police chief but has yet to settle on final job description or how it will make the selection.
Members agreed to begin posting for applications some time next week, or by Aug. 1 at the latest, and keep accepting applications until their next meeting on Sept. 8, when the commission will decide whether to close acceptance of applications or keep them open.
The city is seeking to replace Chief Jim Gregoire, who retired at the end of June from the job that pays about $80,000 a year.
Human Resources Director Jennifer Boulley told the commission this week that she hoped to have the posting listed with the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association by Aug. 1.
"Of course if we make any major foundational changes to the position description, that would obviously come back to the commissioners to review," she said.
Boulley also recommended that the city employ the job search services of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Network and the Wisconsin Job Center. She said listings made at the Job Center would be picked up by the online nationwide employment services LinkedIn and Indeed, which she said would vastly increase the search area.
Commission member Kate Siegler said it made sense to use outside services like WILENET and Wisconsin Job Center to widen the search area.
"I think we should not be getting the word out that we want to hire local and that we are not looking at outside applicants," she said.
Sigler chided Gilbertson for a quote he gave to The Daily Press when Police Capt. Bill Hagstrom was named to the post of interim chief of police.
At that time Gilbertson said finding a candidate who fit in with the community was the most difficult part of the process.
"You can bring people in from out of town and they will tell you the sky is blue and this and that, but when it comes to the job, they don't do as well as they thought," he said in the interview.
"Gordy, your quote to the Daily Press made it seem that
we are really not interested in anybody from the outside; they don't work out here," Siegler said. "We should be looking at outside applicants, and if Bill gets the job, that's great, but we should give this a fair chance, to the qualified applicants who apply for this job."
Commission member Ed Monroe said he agreed with Siegler,
"If you go out immediately talking about preference given to local candidates, candidates outside are just going to blow you off," he said. "You aren't going to get anybody who is seriously looking for the job. It has got to be a fair process, I agree."
Boulley said she also posts city job openings with local agencies, in a job service aimed towards WITC graduates and with the Daily Press.
Gilbertson said he planned to meet with Boulley to finalize the job description and posting details. He said a specialized assessment center, made up of senior law enforcement professionals, could bring expertise to the selection process.
But Monroe objected to delegating responsibility away from the commission, and said a collection of outside chiefs or other high-ranking law enforcement officials would do just that.
Gilbertson countered that the outside assessors would report to the commission, giving their input into the qualifications of the applicants.
"They are the ones living in this field and working there. By them interviewing, talking and posing questions, it will give us a better insight into what the management style of each candidate is," he said.
Gilbertson also brought up the possibility of getting residents' input into the hiring process, perhaps setting up a citizen's interview board.
"People are saying that we are not including the citizens of Ashland when me make these decisions," he said.
Commission member Matthew Horning said he supported the notion of an assessment by outside experts as a way to winnow the field to a given set of finalists, but he said residents should turn to members of the commission to voice their opinions.
"We are the people they should be contacting and we are all available. That is the way for them to give input to this process," he said. "I don't know if I am in favor of adding another layer, especially with COVID."