WHITELAW - Fighting fires is dangerous, sometimes deadly work. Many volunteer for it.
"You want to do something for the community, your neighbors, and friends. And if you don't do it, who's going to do it?" said Gene Schneider, former Whitelaw fire chief.
That's what has kept 75-year-old Gene Schneider serving as a volunteer firefighter in the village of Whitelaw. It's a job he's loved for 52 years.
"Why I stayed on that long? Once you get into it... it's just hard to step back," said Schneider.
He'd probably still be here at the station, if it weren't for a heart condition. But this year, for health reasons, he decided to hang up his gear, forever. It has been difficult, closing a chapter in his life that has been such a big part of it.
"But it was my decision. And it felt good that it was my decision to go," said Schneider.
"Gene has been a mentor to many of the firefighters, a leader of the department, friend to many of the members, and close to a father figure," said Randy Wagner, Whitelaw firefighter.
"And he knew a lot about fires and fire scenes. I learned a lot from him," said Kevin Naidl, Whitelaw firefighter.
And with all of that experience, more than five decades working for the Whitelaw Volunteer Fire Department, Gene says he's seen lots and lots of changes.
"We used to have rubber coats, which were hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Now, we have a lot better insulation and equipment," said Schneider.
Along with bigger trucks and better equipment, investigating fires is something he watched evolve.
"There was no investigation if you didn't know the cause. Electricity got blamed for a lot of fires that perhaps it should not have. And with investigations, that all changed. That was a big improvement," said Schneider.
"It definitely was a family affair. We worked around dad," said Paula Freimuth, Gene's daughter.
Gene's daughter, Paula, describes her father as the go-to person in the community.
She says he would help anyone, at anytime, with anything.
"I don't think he realizes what he has all contributed to the community and to people's lives," said Freimuth.
"A great leader for the department and community. Everybody really looks up to Gene. That hasn't changed and that won't change," said Wagner.
After almost 80 years, a piece of naval history is on its way home. A model of the Japanese luxury liner Hikawa Maru is being packed up in Manitowoc and returned to Japan.
Visitors to Green Bay's Neville Public Museum will soon see hours slashed. The county-owned attraction is cutting access starting the first of the year.
An 11-foot-long model of the Japanese passenger liner Hikawa Maru is being sent back to Japan after 34 years at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.
Area volunteers are making a difference in the community this holiday season. At this time of the year, many people are looking for ways to help their neighbors. The Salvation Army is one of the many places where you can do just that.
For the second year in a row, St. Norbert College could house overflow of homeless people from the St. John the Evangelist shelter in Green Bay.
A memorial fund has been created for a Grand Chute firefighter killed in a weekend car crash.