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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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
Austin Baune is a typical 4-year-old boy who loves tractors and skid loaders and playing in the dirt. He's curious and busy and talkative and loves the outdoors. But there are things about Austin that are different from other boys his age. He tires easily, his feet sometimes don't work properly, and he knows how to flush a medical port. Austin suffers from acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. His parents, Tony and Molly Baune of Garfield, noticed him limping the week prior to Memorial Day.
Nearly 100 people gathered at the Parkers Prairie Event Center Tuesday evening to listen to input on a proposed 70- to 100-megawatt wind energy project that would be built one mile north of Parkers Prairie. About a dozen individuals stood up at the meeting to voice their reaction to the plan, which could include as many as 40 wind turbines.
Eventually, it will be a place of beauty, tranquility and solace - a place for the entire community to enjoy. Now, it's a lesson in self-less giving and an opportunity for some local tradesmen to create a work of art on nature's canvas. The Maritime Gardens, located on the campus of the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum in Alexandria, started out as some simple sketches on a piece of paper. Slowly but surely, those sketches are coming to life. Area landscape contractors came together to design and coordinate the garden project last spring.
When Heidi Allstop of Alexandria couldn't find the support she needed to help her through some tough times at college, she created an organization that could provide it. In just two years, that small campus organization has grown into a national company that has helped thousands of students. Supporting Peers in Laidback Listening (SPILL) is an e-mail-based support system that provides peer-to-peer support. Students can "spill" confidentially about their problems and get unbiased support, feedback and resources from other students on campus who have dealt with the same problem.
Leah Hvezda has always been intrigued with blood and gore. That intrigue eventually turned into a passion, and now the 2010 Alexandria Jefferson High School graduate is hoping to make a career out of creating it. Hvezda has always been a movie buff, but it's not the acting or the plot that draws her in - it's the make-up. "I guess I've always been into that," she said.
Former Alexandria resident Wayne Richardson was featured in a short segment on the History Channel show Ice Road Truckers. Richardson, a truck driver who was living in Talkeetna, Alaska, passed away October 12, 2010 at age 58 after a year-long battle with cancer. He graduated from Jefferson High School in Alexandria in 1970.
Cozette Fjordback has a new friend. He's everything a person could ask for of a friend - he's warm, gentle, patient, caring, a good listener, and best of all, he visits regularly. He also gives lots of kisses. Fjordback is a resident at Bethany Home in Alexandria. The 91-year-old has lung cancer and is currently receiving hospice care. She receives comfort and companionship from her new friend - an 8-year-old Labrador named Woody. Woody, a trained hospice therapy dog, has been coming to see Fjordback since February.
The Vikingland Band Festival committee has selected Margaret "Peggy" Atwood as grand marshal of the 2011 Vikingland Band Festival. Atwood was selected for the honor because of her dedication to the School District 206 music department and her contributions to the community of Alexandria.
Don Shelby will share performances of a one-man Mark Twain show entitled Life on the Mississippi at the Alexandria Area Arts Association (AAAA) Theatre. Performances are Friday, June 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door; children 10 and younger are $10. Tickets can be purchased by calling the AAAA box office at (320) 762-8300. The show is a fundraiser for the theater. A LITERARY PASSION Shelby has always been a Mark Twain fan.