January scrapbook: Fred Carritt honored for service to community

Fred Carritt retirement reception
Washington County Sheriff Mike Robinson, center, honors Deputy Fred Carritt during a reception for the deputy who was retiring  after 45 yers in law enforcement. Also pictured are Chief Deputy Kevin Willis and Carritt’s wife, Marla.

Deputies, police officers, county employees, friends, family and community members gathered at the Courthouse on January 4, 2018 to honor retiring Washington County sheriff’s deputy Fred Carritt. He began his law enforcement career in 1972 with the Village of Mead. Carritt has served with the Wahoo and Blair Police Department and as a K-9 handler, detective, and school resource officer for the sheriffs office.




Summer snapshots, Washington County 2017

Blair Balloonist Jaworski inducted into Hall of Fame

Jaworski Hot Air Balloon
Over hill and dale. Rich Jaworski pilots his passengers above the hills north of Blair in March, 2016.

We all look up to Blair balloonist Rich Jaworski when we see his brilliant red and white striped balloon float through the skies over Washington County on a calm morning or evening. Following his induction into the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame Enterprise on-line editor and reporter  Leeana Elis interviewed Jaworski, and I searched through my archive for photos I have taken over the years to accompany the article.

I have watched Jaworski and his crew prepare for take off many times, but the most memorable for me was standing in the parking lot of St.Francis Borgia  in the wee hours of a frigid morning in 2007 as the balloonist prepared for a long distance flight.

Congratulations to Rich, and thanks for the joy you provide as we view your balloon floating over the countryside. – Joe Burns

Saturday  Heritge Days
Rich Jaworski greets guests as they climb aboard for a bird’s eye view of Fort Atkinson during Heritage Days in Fort Calhoun.

Jump into the deep end and start swimming

Huesman class
Becket Scott pies South School engineer Steve Ray.

I cannot remember  a new year as fraught with drama and trauma as the one that is upon us.  At this point I don’t think anyone of any political persuasion has a clue as to what the political, social, or economic ramifications of the new presidential administration will be.

But living in fear doesn’t do any good.  Based upon what has worked for us in the past, we must make plans and make choices  that will help us achieve our dreams and goals.

Personally I have always been a fan of fresh starts.  My experience has been that the best way to pursue happiness is to jump into the deep end of life and start swimming.

My first paid teaching experience was working as a substitute teacher in the Omaha Public Schools.  I remember waking up and listening for the phone to ring with feelings of  both anticipation and dread.  I needed and wanted the work, but I never knew quite what the day would bring.

Walking into an unfamiliar school and class room each day was an adventure. The regular teacher may or may not have provided detailed lesson plans. Some times the students were polite and cooperative, and other times they saw me as fresh meat.  I learned to be flexible, to think on my feet and to stay calm no matter what took place.  I learned that each classroom and each child is unique.  Usually I succeeded in teaching the planned lesson, but sometimes not so much.

Substitute teaching was a valuable  experience because whether I ended the day feeling successful or frustrated, I could walk out that door and start all over fresh the next day at another school in  another classroom with a new set of students and a different set of challenges.  Over the course of the semester my self confidence increased. I met and modeled successful teachers who became my mentors. I observed successful teachers and administrators and they observed me.  That spring I was offered a full time position at Benson High School for the following year.

As an English teacher and then as a journalism and photography teacher I liked the idea that each school year and each semester provided an opportunity for a fresh start for both the teacher and student.  Each year I tweaked my lesson plans and prepared new strategies to more effectively engage students and present the material. I never grew tired of reading and teaching Chaucer, Shakespeare Wordsworth and Coleridge, because each time I taught the literature I learned something new myself.

I approach my job as a photojournalist with the same passion. While I have attended hundreds, even thousands of school and sports activities, each event  is a new challenge and an opportunity to tell a new story in a new way.

Over the New Year weekend, I reviewed my images from 2016 to pick out the keepers.  The secret to becoming  a successful photographer is to edit your work and  show and publish only your best images.  Out of thousands of images I captured last year, I came up with maybe a couple hundred keepers.  As I scrolled through the images frame by frame I would often pause to think about the people, the day, and the story associated with one or a set of images.  Some of my favorite photos have more to do with the memories they evoke than with photo composition.  As an example, I love the picture (above) that captures the moment before Becket Scott plants a pie on South School engineer Steve Ray’s face during a school assembly.

Viewing my photos from last year has me psyched to begin the new year capturing  unique and compelling images.

In 2017 I hope to extend my photo treks beyond Washington County. This year marks 150 years of Nebraska Statehood, and I am eager to take part in some of the many celebrations that will take place across the state. I am also inspired by my recent visit to the Joslyn Art Museum to see “Dirt Meridian,”  an exhibit of photographs by Andrew Moore.  The monumental inkjet photographs document the landscape along the 100th Meridian from Texas, through Nebraska and the Dakotas to Canada.  While I have no expectations of making great art, I want to experience and photograph these landscapes for myself.

While I can’t remember a time when I have been less optimistic about the future, I do hope that my fears prove to be unfounded, and I do wish everyone a satisfying and rewarding new year.

WCF Rodeo

Washington County Fair Mutton Busters

Quilts in the Country show and garden walk