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Eau Claire family's fish photo goes viral

A photo captured recently by an Eau Claire family turned out to be a surprising catch of the day.

The shot depicts three brothers — Levi, 4, Logan, 3, and Landon Daniels, 18 months — proudly showing off the fake fish they landed June 29 at a children’s museum in Brookings, S.D.

But what made the photo become an internet sensation is that the youngest brother had put his fish in his mouth just before the boys’ mother, Marika Daniels, snagged the image.

Marika posted the photo on Facebook the day she took it and a lot of her friends thought it was hilarious, but she never expected such a huge reaction. Once people saw the adorable image, they were hooked and couldn’t resist reeling in others.

Marika estimates that as of Wednesday afternoon her photo had been shared at least 800,000 times on social media, including a viral meme in which someone added a caption over the photo reading “Every family has that one kid.”

Stories about the now-famous photo have been featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” NBC’s “Today” and in countless other media reports across the world, including the India Times. Marika still holds out hope the photo will show up on the “Ellen, Rate My Baby” segment of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

“My friends started sharing my picture and it just started to spread like wildfire,” Marika said. “I honestly was shocked — and I still kind of am — at how many times this picture has been shared. Never in a million years did I think this would go viral let alone turned into a meme.”

She is as happy as a clam that the photo is winning hearts on the world wide web, although the avid amateur photographer who is always seeking the perfect shot acknowledged finding it amusing that a photo she took with her cellphone is the one netting so much attention.

“I am truly humbled by all the likes, shares, smiles and laughs this picture has brought to so many people already. I think the world needs to smile and laugh more and I feel so honored this picture helped,” said Marika, a former health coach who believes laughter can be the best medicine.

All of the attention means the Daniels family has made quite a splash since moving from South Dakota to Eau Claire about two weeks ago.

Marika said the boys have a whale of a time fishing, especially with their dad, Andrew, who is an avid fisherman.

Thus, it was no surprise the fishing pond — where kids can catch fake fish by linking magnets by the mouths of the fish and at the end of their fishing poles — was the brothers’ favorite part of the museum.

As she took the photo, Marika said she was focused on getting Levi and Logan to look at the camera and didn’t realize Landon’s fish was dangling from his mouth until she looked through the pictures on her phone.

“I told everyone to hold the fish up by their face and Landon took it quite literally,” Marika said. “I just giggled when I saw the picture and thought, ‘Oh, Landon.’ “

Thankfully for all of those caught up in the fun, that picture-perfect moment wasn’t the one that got away.

VFW honors area soldiers who leave next week

Veterans, family members, and area community members gathered at the VFW Post 305 on Starr Avenue on Wednesday to honor the first battalion, 128th infantry regiment of the Wisconsin National Guard, which will leave next week for Fort Hood, Texas.

The soldiers will then head to Afghanistan for a tour. All together, the unit is expected to be gone for about a year.

Tom Yetter, who organized the event, said it is important to honor the soldiers.

“We are putting these people in harm’s way,” Yetter said. “They are our neighbors, friends, co-workers. It is important to me to display that support for them.”

The 128th infantry is based in Eau Claire, but it has members ranging from Abbotsford to River Falls to Onalaska, Yetter said.

An official farewell ceremony will be held Sunday in Menomonie with several state-level politicians expected to attend, and the soldiers will ship out Monday and Wednesday, Yetter said. With their deployment coming soon, most of the soldiers were packing on Wednesday and unable to attend the event, Yetter said.

Those who did attend celebrated the veterans and enjoyed camaraderie and food.

Bill Brinkman, 86, of Eau Claire, served in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1955, and was briefly stationed in Korea.

“I’m here to provide moral support,” Brinkman said.

The centerpiece of the event was the area debut of the military documentary film, “Dawn of the Red Arrow,” which traces the history of the unit.

Maj. Brian Faltinson, a public affairs officer and historian with the Wisconsin National Guard, produced the film and answered questions about it after the showing. He worked on the film for 18 months, completing it in April. The film debuted at an event in Milwaukee in May, Faltinson said.

“The Red Arrow is a powerful symbol across Wisconsin,” Faltinson said. It was great for them to see where their unit came from.”

Faltinson was proud to be part of the tribute to the troops event.

“Post 305 is very connected to the first battalion, 128th infantry, and this was a perfect venue to host something like this,” Faltinson said.

Nick Messicci, 26, of Chetek, works in Eau Claire near the battalion’s armory, and he said he wanted to show his support for the troops. He enjoyed the movie.

“We don’t hear much about World War I,” Messicci said. “Getting a chance to see them, and their history, was pretty neat. They did a good job.”

Wisconsin GOP: Rewrite constitution to limit governor's veto

MADISON — Wisconsin Republicans want to rewrite the state constitution to prohibit the governor from using his veto pen to increase spending without legislative approval, marking another skirmish in the GOP’s battle to diminish Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ powers.

The Wisconsin Constitution gives the governor one of the strongest veto powers in the country. The governor can strike words, numbers and punctuation in spending bills, bending the Legislature’s will to his own by pumping money toward projects he supports while starving opponents’ initiatives. Evers used those powers last week on the state budget to give public schools $65 million more than Republican lawmakers set out.

Sen. Dave Craig and Rep. Mike Kuglitsch began seeking co-sponsors Monday for a constitutional amendment that would forbid the governor from increasing funding in bills that appropriate money.

They wrote in a memo to their colleagues that Evers’ move to bolster school funding is an abuse of power that could damage the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.

“The legislature’s role in the budget process has been continually eroded by the executive branch, and it is beyond time we right-size the governor’s veto pen to protect taxpayers and restore the legislature’s constitutional authority,” Craig said in a news release Tuesday.

Republicans have been working to limit Evers’ powers since he defeated Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November.

They passed a host of laws during a December lame-duck session forbidding Evers from pulling the state out of lawsuits without legislative permission, a tactic designed to keep Evers from delivering on a campaign promise to withdraw from a multistate lawsuit challenging federal health care reforms. Evers still managed to withdraw from the lawsuit after a court temporarily put the laws on hold this spring.

Evers used his partial veto power to make 78 changes to the budget. The only funding increase he created was for schools, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Evers, a former teacher, spent nearly a decade as the state schools superintendent.

Evers’ spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff, said Evers used his partial veto power to bring school funding more in line with what people wanted to see in the budget. She called the Craig and Kuglitsch’s amendment proposal a “temper tantrum.”

“These sore losers want to change the rules every time they don’t get their way,” she said.

A constitutional amendment must pass two consecutive sessions of the Legislature and a statewide referendum before it can be added to the document. The governor plays no role in approving constitutional amendments.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos both signaled support. Fitzgerald issued a statement saying the proposal “reflects concerns that I have heard from other members of my caucus.” Vos issued a statement saying not allowing funding increases through partial vetoes is “common sense.”

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling and Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz both said Republicans keep looking for ways to undermine Evers.

“The public should be outraged at the repeated attempts to change the powers of the office because they disagree with how those powers were used,” Hintz said in statement.

Partial vetoes have been a thorny issue for the Legislature since at least the 1930s. Fiscal bureau data shows 25 constitutional amendments proposed to limit the governor’s power since 1935. The latest amendment to pass referendum was in 2008. That language erased the so-called Frankenstein veto, the governor’s ability to string together words to form new sentences.

Walker made 104 partial vetoes in the 2015-17 state budget and 98 vetoes in the 2017-19 budget. Former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson holds the record with 457 partial vetoes in the 1991-93 budget. He told reporters during a luncheon in Madison on Tuesday that he supports the Craig-Kuglitsch amendment.

“I’m not going to criticize the governor for vetoes, but there’s one area I do not believe governors should be able to veto and that’s increasing appropriations,” he said. “The legislators have the right to appropriate. Governors do not.”