Tara Bitzan is editor of the Echo Press. She joined the company in 1991 as a news reporter.
A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University.
She and her husband, Dennis, and their children live near Alexandria.
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Jacob Fleming of Alexandria knew exactly what he wanted for his 7th birthday - items that he could "re-gift." "We have lots of toys already," the boy said of himself and his three brothers. "I wanted to give [my presents] away." He also knew who he wanted to give them to. "Nick's dad and the soldiers!" he said of his friend's father, Nathan Borden, who was scheduled to go to Afghanistan. Brian and Cindy Fleming have watched their son go through a lot in the past couple of years.
Numerous studies have shown that children do better academically when their fathers are involved in their school. If that's true, many students at St. Mary's School in Alexandria will be getting straight A's this year. This fall, St. Mary's School implemented the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program. The goal of the national initiative is to get dads more involved in their child's education. (See sidebar for background on the program.) "Traditionally, we get a lot of moms in to volunteer, but we don't see a lot of dads," said Troy Sladek, principal at St. Mary's.
O Lutefisk, O Lutefisk, how fragrant your aroma! O Lutefisk, O Lutefisk, you put me in a coma. Sure, the Scandinavian holiday tradition of eating lutefisk is the source of jokes for some, you betcha!
The Viking Speedway held its annual awards banquet Saturday, November 26 at Broadway Ballroom in Alexandria, honoring the 2011 season champions in five WISSOTA divisions. Information on the top five drivers in each division can be found under the photographs. Rookies of the Year were also named. They include Zach Hintermeister in the Midwest Modified division, Brent Hoium in the Modified division and Brad Parson in the Late Model division. The racers in attendance at the banquet voted for drivers in all divisions for the Sportsmen of the Year honors.
If you're looking for advice on how to live a long, healthy life, it makes sense to ask someone who has already accomplished it. But Hermina Wahlin of Evansville - one of the oldest living residents in Minnesota - isn't going to give you much advice, because she says she has "absolutely no idea" how she did it. Wahlin just celebrated her 107th birthday on Saturday, November 26. "I guess maybe it's early to bed, early to rise," she said of the key to longevity. Despite some hearing problems and some vision problems in one eye, Hermina is a spry, active gal with a phenomenal memory. At home
Let the holiday begin - Museum to unveil upgrades to Fort Alexandria Nov. 25 at 'Christmas in the Fort' When does the Christmas season officially begin in Alexandria? When Santa Claus turns the holiday lights on along Broadway, of course! Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit Alexandria on Friday, November 25 to share in the fun at the annual Christmas in the Fort event at the Runestone Museum's Fort Alexandria. The gates will open for the free event at 3 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by horse and carriage at 3:15 p.m.
Several months ago, a special Echo Press reader told me she had clipped out the Thanksgiving column I had written several years ago and rereads it every once in awhile because it makes her feel good. To a writer, that's the ultimate compliment! I remembered the basics of the column, but not the details. So I dug it up. Too bad I hadn't kept a copy of my own to refer back to every time I felt that life handed me lemons. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I thought maybe you could also use a reminder to be thankful.
Myron Sahlberg of Alexandria loves the great outdoors and finds a lot of enjoyment in the sport of bow hunting. A teacher at heart, Sahlberg has taken his love of hunting a step further, and is educating two area youth in the sport as well. Sahlberg, a communication art and design instructor at Alexandria Technical and Community College, first connected with 16-year-old Isaac Johnson of Nelson a few years ago. Isaac's father, John, talked often with Sahlberg about Isaac's interest in hunting.
On October 19, I took a trip that will go down in my memory bank as one of the best trips I've ever taken. I chaperoned the 9th grade Discovery Middle School (DMS) trip to Washington, D.C. (see facing page) I'd never been to Washington, D.C., but it sounded like a place everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. We had a busy, fast-paced schedule.
When living or working in a long-term care facility, death is a common occurrence. The staff at Ecumen Bethany Community in Alexandria strives to make the dying process a positive experience and a time of celebration. According to Pastor Andrea Olson, chaplain at Ecumen Bethany, a lot of focus has been placed on end of life care in the past few years. "Our goal is to try to change the perception of death, to provide dignity to dying residents and to honor the relationships involved," she explained. About five years ago, a group of staff members, residents and residents' family members came