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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It seems extraordinary that a man who spent the past two years submerged in a magical land of Pandora - made famous through the recent hit movie Avatar - dreams of the shores of Lake Irene near the small town of Miltona, Minnesota. TyRuben Ellingson's world is fast-paced, high-tech and focused on innovations of the future. While he now calls Chandler, Arizona home, he spends considerable time in Hollywood working with acclaimed movie directors.
For many years, Violetta Botzet Luetgers carried the story of a young Indian boy around in her mind. As the story grew, so did her desire to put it on paper. The now published author was born and raised on a farm in Spruce Hill Township. She graduated from 8th grade at District 64 Scriven School and from Jefferson High School in 1961. She married Wayne Luetgers from Brandon in 1962, and the couple moved to the Twin Cities area to find work. They have resided in Silver Creek Township near Maple Lake for the past 30 years. Luetgers became interested in Native Americans at a young age.
One of my downfalls is a low patience tolerance for people not following directions. It might be something simple like asking my daughter to empty her backpack and hang it up, only to find later that she emptied it but tossed it on the floor. Or it might be something more complex, like leaving detailed, written instructions for someone only to have them followed incorrectly. I admit, I wasn't always the best follower of directions myself. I learned the hard way. One day in junior high, my classmates and I were given a blank sheet of paper, and another sheet filled with instructions.
May is Mental Health Month, and local advocates are passionate about building community awareness on the topic of mental illness. Two events are being planned - a Balloon Release for Recover and an open house at the Vikingland Community Support Program (see pullouts for complete details). One local woman (referred to as Jane to protect her identity) is thrilled with the mental health services provided locally and wanted to share her story so others are aware that help is available. "Jane" has suffered from mental illness since age 22.
Norman Werk got the scare of a lifetime on February 18. It was the day he almost lost his wife. At about 9:20 that evening, Norman was in the basement of his rural Kensington home when he heard a thump on the floor above him. Thinking his wife, June, may have dropped something, he called up to her. When she didn't reply, he rushed upstairs to find her unresponsive on the floor. She had suffered sudden cardiac arrest. He called 911 on a speaker phone and immediately began CPR.
We've all heard or read about gender inequality in terms of pay. The simple message is that women, on average, don't make as much money as men in the same positions. But things have gotten better, right? After all, it's been nearly 50 years since the Equal Pay Act was passed, which protects men and women who perform equal work in a company from sex-based wage discrimination. At that time (1963) women only earned 59 cents on the dollar compared to men. Today, 50 percent of the American workforce is made up of women.
For the first 44 years of her marriage, Linda Zismer of Alexandria probably wouldn't have described her husband, Dan, as a romantic. But that changed on Valentine's Day 2009, when her husband gave her a gift that honored their long-time marriage in a truly romantic way. It all started in August of 2008 during a trip to Iowa to visit their daughter.
At the annual convention of the Minnesota Newspaper Association last week, one of the keynote speakers was Dan Buettner, New York Times bestselling author of The Blue Zones. Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and longevity professionals to identify locations around the world where people are living measurably better, longer lives. In Blue Zone areas, people live to age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the U.S., and they suffer only a fraction of the heart disease and cancer Americans suffer. Buettner's book examines all the reasons experts believe the Blue Zone residents live
Dennis Dumm's love of photography is helping to promote the safety of those who share his other love - biking. The Alexandria native was a biking enthusiast who rode his bike for fun as well as for transportation whenever possible. Dumm was killed while riding his bicycle in Minneapolis on May 20, 2009. He was traveling from his home to work when a semi-truck accidentally turned into him. Prior to his death, Dumm was planning a showing of his photography.