RHINELANDER - The world spent the last few days looking to the roof of the Sistine Chapel for white smoke. Yesterday we met the new Pope for the first time.
But he takes control of the Catholic Church at a challenging time. Still, Northwoods Catholics are confident.
As tens of thousands of faithful watched for white smoke in St. Peter's square, more than a billion Catholics around the world waited to find out who their new leader would be. That included students right here at Nativity of our Lord Catholic School in Rhinelander.
"The kids were really excited. And then we prayed for him that he would lead us, lead the church in so many wonderful ways into the future," says Mary Mangerson, a Nativity Kindergarten Teacher.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina made history Wednesday in more than one way. He's the first non-European Pope in nearly 2,000 years.
"It's a very positive and very historical change. Because the developing world is being represented now, where many of the poor and marginalized are being left behind," says Father Tom Thakadipuram.
He's also the first Pope to choose the name Francis, after Saint Francis of Assisi. One of the things he represents is rebuilding the Church.
"He heard that call to rebuild the church. I think that is the main message now. Because the Church has been wrought with different issues," says Father Tom.
The Papacy and future of the Catholic Church has been the focal point of international news for weeks. Every network has been on Pope-watch for days. Non Catholics KNOW the Pope's kind of a big deal, but why? What does the Pope mean to Catholics?
"We know that leaders are important to us in our everyday lives and as a Catholic we look to our leaders to guide us in our faith," says Stacie Simkins, a Nativity 2nd Grade Teacher.
"He becomes the face of Christ. He becomes the face of stability and at the same time inspiration to the new world," says Father Tom.
"I think it's a feeling of belonging; everyone belongs to this family, and he is the leader of our family," says Mangerson.
As the world learns more about this reportedly humble man from Buenos Aires, Catholics are hoping for someone up to the task of leading them through the challenges the Church faces.
"I think we need a leader who's pastoral. And he appears to me to be someone who loves people and has a gentle spirit," says Mangerson.
APPLETON - Law enforcement officials say they have exhausted all efforts to recover a handgun thought to be used in the shooting of a 25-year-old man in an Appleton nightclub.
That includes taking apart some of the club's plumbing system.
Outagamie County District Attorney Carrie Schneider tells Post-Crescent Media (http://post.cr/1kFLfi0 ) they will keep following up on leads on the gun's whereabouts but they've so far pursued it as far as they could.
MADISON - If all this snow melts too quickly, there could be severe flooding in areas of Wisconsin.
That's according to the National Weather Service.
Steve Buan, the senior hydrologist for the North Central River Forecast Center in Chanhassen, Minn., says the ripening flood conditions have been caused by higher-than-usual snowfall and frost depths nearing 8 feet in some places.
WAUSAU - Most magicians wow us with their tricks, but Magician Lou Lepore does more.
He teaches his audiences how to do some of the tricks he performs. He spent the last week as magician-in-residence at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau putting on magic shows and hosting workshops.
It was part of the museum's latest exhibit on Mystery, Magic and Mayhem.
Students from local schools visited him during his six-day residency as in-house magician.
"We had schools come in, and depending on the size of the kids, if it was about 20 or under we would do a class, an actual workshop with them and teach them magic," says Lepore. "You would teach them maybe a half a dozen tricks that they can use with friends and family and things like that. If it was more than 20 we did a show."
Lepore specializes in sleight of hand using items like cards or coins. He also dabbles in cabaret.
Lepore has been doing magic for more than 40 years, but this was his first time as an in-house magician.
"They said can you do an artist-in-residency, and I said I have no idea what that is, what do I do?" says Lepore. "They said you're gong to show your art form, being magic, and you're going to teach kids classes and do demonstrations and workshops. I said oh yeah, I've done that for fairs, festivals so I can do all that for you."
Two more magicians will perform at the museum through April.
EAGLE RIVER - Soccer players may need to wait for the snow on their fields to melt. But they know cabin fever is starting to set in, and it's the perfect time to capitalize on it.
The 7th annual Cabin Fever Indoor Soccer Tournament kicked off today at Northland Pines High School. The event raises money for the schoolís boy's and girl's soccer teams.
"This was an opportunity to have an indoor soccer program so the kids can do something in the winter," says tournament director Steve Gilbert. "There was a need for a fundraiser so we thought why not have a tournament. There are other tournaments in the region, why not have one here with this tremendous facility that we have here at Pines."
Nearly 100 5th through 8th graders played in the co-ed soccer matches. Their participation makes it possible for the team to buy new equipment.
"It allows us to buy things that maybe the school can't afford to buy for them, so different types of warm-ups, equipment out on the field," says Gilbert. "One time we bought a camera for them so we could film their games. So it's going to good causes."
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