Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. She enjoys running and has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon distances.
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The 20 high school seniors in the Brandon-Evansville School District got to turn their tassels today, Saturday, May 27, during their graduation ceremony. Class of 2017 valedictorian, Kylee Hansen, shared some words of advice for her fellow classmates, telling them, "High school has been swell, but now it's time to give it all we've got." Hansen talked about the priceless moments and the countless memories they have all shared but said they all still have quite a bit of growing up to do. "We've only just begun," she said.
This Memorial Day is just like every other one for Joe Steinhagen as he remembers and honors the uncle he never knew, Private First Class Arthur Hesse. Hesse was the brother of Steinhagen's mother. And as Steinhagen got older and learned how his uncle died, he finally made the connection as to why his mother, Margaret, would leave the room when he and one of his brother's would watch war movies on the television when they were younger.
Steve Vrchota has taken on a heavy load — a 240-ton load. Vrchota is taking over the role of executive director of Pope/Douglas Solid Waste Management as Pete Olmscheid will retire May 31. The waste-to-energy facility, which opened in 1987, is permitted to process 240 tons of trash per day and it operates 24 hours a day, seven days per week, 365 days per year. Yes, even on holidays, Vrchota said. The waste material, once processed, goes into an incinerator to generate steam.
Although he didn't know it at the time, working on boilers while in the U.S. Navy would eventually pay off for Pete Olmscheid. Olmscheid, who is retiring from Pope/Douglas Solid Waste Management after 30 years, is the last of the original employees of the Alexandria waste-to-energy company, which began in March 1987. "I think it was my boiler experience that helped me get the job," said Olmscheid, whose last day is May 31.
School District 206 is expected to accept the resignation of Eric Bjurman, the current assistant principal and activities director at Discovery Middle School, at its regular meeting next month. Bjurman, whose resignation will be effective June 30, has accepted a principal position with the Foley Intermediate School in the Foley Public School District.
The spray-painted messages were loud and clear — someone or some people are not happy about the proposed new school for the Brandon-Evansville School District. The vandalism also prompted a volunteer cleanup effort. Shortly after 8:30 a.m. Saturday, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office was notified about graffiti spray-painted on grain bags in Brandon. The bags, near the intersection of County Road 82 and Central Avenue across from the grain elevator, are the property of Pro Ag Farmers Co-op and are filled with corn.
As she was driving to work one day last school year, Lynn Ransom asked herself, "Why can't we have a food shelf? Ransom, a paraprofessional at Discovery Middle School in Alexandria, knew there was a need for a food shelf at the school, but that the middle school had nothing to offer students. "We just have always had to make do," said Ransom.
There are several words friends and family members have used to describe Wayne Lund — friendly, nice, amazing and generous. But the one word used over and over again is private. Wayne Lund, a farmer from Brandon, recently donated 20 acres of land to be used as the site of a potential K-12 school for the Brandon-Evansville School District. The donation is valued at about $400,000, said Warren Schmidt, the district's project facilitator. Voters in the district will head to the polls August 30 to vote on the $38.75 million bond referendum.
The message Wednesday morning came across loud and clear: Put down your phone when you drive. Alexandria Area High School was once again the site of a mock car crash showing the graphic consequences of what can happen from distracted driving. Students watched as two cars, both with teenager actors inside, collide.
After receiving 10 years of tax breaks through a job creation program, SunOpta is asking a tax court to lower its property valuation and tax bill, a move Douglas County Assessor Keith Albertsen called "morally offensive." SunOpta, a food processing company, and retailer Mills Fleet Farm have filed petitions seeking lower property assessments for property taxes to be paid in 2017. The requests were discussed at Tuesday's Douglas County Board of Commissioner's meeting.