Biomass debate is a matter of trust
The battle over a proposed wood-burning energy plant in Rothschild pits neighbors against neighbors and leaves others in a plume of confusion over who’s right and who’s wrong. I worked on this joint report for more than a month with another Daily Herald reporter, seeking to explain the project and the arguments made by opponents and proponents. I explained our reporting process here.

$60,000 spent on Gov. Scott Walker’s travels
Wausau Daily Herald
Using the state’s open records law, I requested the expenses associated with the governor’s travel in the state fleet and passenger manifests of those flights. We found that Walker spent more than $59,000 flying around Wisconsin during his first six months in office, with the bulk of the travel coming during the contentious battle over the Republican governor’s legislative agenda and budget.

Kronenwetter approved dozens of new homes despite high groundwater warnings
 After several weeks of reporting on high groundwater flooding homes in a portion of Kronenwetter, I dug into the village’s archives. Surveys and other documents produced at the request of the township in the 1990s  and available to current elected officials warned the municipality to closely regulate new construction in the same area.

Kronenwetter must use chunk of property taxes to pay off debt
Kronenwetter incorporated as a village in 2003, the most recent of the six communities I cover in Wausau to do so. But the move has left public officials with high debt obligations totaling millions of dollars in the next several years. My curiosity about the debt obligation came from attending the village’s 2011 budget hearings, resulting in this story explaining where that high burden came from.

GOP’s Sean Duffy takes Obey’s seat
Shortly after beginning work at the Daily Herald, I began covering the contentious campaign to replace retiring Rep. Dave Obey in Congress. Republican Sean Duffy defeated Democrat Julie Lassa after an exhaustive and expensive campaign. This recap was written on a tight deadline from Duffy’s election night watch party, with contributions from another Gannett reporter at Lassa’s campaign headquarters.

Former lumberjack, reality TV star, makes his way to D.C. as a lawmaker
Can a freshman congressman compete with a senior?
Post-election, I sat down for an interview with Duffy and his wife, Rachel Campos Duffy. These two stories resulted from that time and other interviews with political veterans in the 7th Congressional District. One is a profile of Duffy, the other attempts to answer the question of what being represented by a freshman member could mean for the district.

Rothschild pool loses $300,000 in three years
The Rothschild-Schofield Aquatic Center has lost more than $318,000 over the last three years, and taxpayers in the two municipalities are being forced to pick up that tab.

Blastomycosis outbreak hits Weston
The Marathon County Health Department refused to release information about outbreaks of blastomycosis, claiming the information could affect property values and didn’t serve the public interest. I filed an open records request for more specific information about the location of the cases.

Blastomycosis blankets Wausau metro area
This story followed up on the open records request. The Health Department released a map identifying clusters of blastomycosis cases, many located in communities outside of those previously identified.

Wausau-area gas prices higher than much of Wisconsin
A Wausau Daily Herald analysis of gas figures compiled by the AAA found that prices in Wausau routinely are a few cents higher than the state average. They also are pennies per gallon higher than average prices in surrounding central Wisconsin cities and other major metro areas in Wisconsin.

Tidal wave of political ads coming
Ads already have flooded local airwaves during the primary season and political observers expect the 2010 election season to set records for advertising spending across the country by campaigns and outside groups. The combination of competitive races, high stakes for both political parties and a Supreme Court ruling permitting corporate money to enter the political scene created a “perfect storm” likely to result in record spending, the University of Wisconsin’s Advertising Project predicted in March.

Other work:

Use of food stamps doubles in Marathon County
The number of people applying for and receiving assistance to buy food increased dramatically  from 2008 to 2011 in Marathon County, yet another indication that many members of the community continue to struggle economically.

Waiting for a new heart
A heart attack destroyed two-thirds of Lucy Cuellar’s heart. Now the 54-year-old mother of a teenage boy is one of thousands awaiting organ transplants in Wisconsin. Cuellar shared her emotional story to promote organ donation in February, “Heart Health Month.”

Kronenwetter homeowners under water with flooding issues
The idea for this article came from a meeting agenda, and reporting revealed a conflict between village officials and residents over flooding in two subdivisions.

Lifelong Lincoln County residents manage tornado relief effort
When a tornado tore through Lincoln County in early April, towns and villages looked to two officials to provide guidance and assistance. As part of the Daily Herald’s coverage, I spent some time with those men and described their emotional connection to the communities affected by the storm.

State Sen. Pam Galloway goes from surgeon to gun law proponent
After a round of stunning victories for Wisconsin Republicans in November, Pam Galloway landed as a freshman lawmaker with no political experience whatsoever in the midst of Wisconsin’s most heated political climate in a generation. The former surgeon took a primary role in developing and passing concealed carry through the Legislature. This profile examines her path to Madison and what she learned in six months on the job.

Business leaders say economic growth is separate from Wisconsin’s political conflict
As thousands of protesters descended on the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison to protest a proposal that would end collective bargaining for union employee, Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s “open for business” message faded to the background. This report examined whether business leaders — who strongly backed Walker’s campaign — felt their primary concerns had been forgotten since he took office.

Kronenwetter, Weston had fastest population growth in the area
Two of the communities in my local government beat territory saw comparatively large population growth when the 2010 U.S. Census data was released in February. I took those numbers to local builders and homeowners, asking why these communities could grow so significantly when others experienced minimal growth or shrank.