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New year brings new questions and old issues

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River Falls, 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

I don't think it will come as any surprise to anyone who reads this column regularly, but I have issues.

Most of them are not very important but are nonetheless annoying. Others figure a little higher on the things-that-matter scale, and then there are the ones that seem to require immediate thought and action. That isn't to say that anything will happen - just that something should.

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So begins another new year and another guilt trip booked for departure.

Some of the things that come immediately to mind include swearing off cream cheese in any way, shape or form until next December. I am considering using the remaining cheese ball as a facial treatment. All that fat should do something for aging skin beyond stretching it out if you eat it.

There is also the whole question of when to take down the Christmas tree. Kevin says March. The rest of us just see it as habitat for something outside right now. How quickly the spirit of the season evaporates into name-calling and accusations of just who does more work around the house and who gets to call it when it comes to throwing out the plant life.

Regular meals have to resume as well. No more getting by with serving mixed nuts, thumbprint cookies and Chex Mix as a three-course vegetarian experience. It was little scary over the weekend when everybody started drooling over the Outback Steakhouse commercial. It's time to bring on the protein, I guess.

We had to clean the basement for Katie's New Year's Eve party, and I came across the exercise DVD I bought last spring. There is something about watching 16 teen-agers run up and down our stairs like it was nothing and having all of them call you "Mrs. Heaton" that really started me thinking about maybe taking the thing out of the box, pulling the shades and giving it a try.

The truth is I have been keeping busy thinking about anything except what has happened in connection with our little town's biggest news story in years. It is hard to believe that it will soon be three years since the horrific murders of Dan O'Connell and James Ellison. When I interviewed criminal profiler Richard Walter a few weeks back, I thought that quote about bananas was among the best I was ever going to get out of a cop, but I really didn't take it too seriously. Then all hell broke loose.

Just like everybody else in town, I hope we find out sooner rather than later if Father Ryan Erickson was guilty of something criminal in Hudson. Whether you were a fan of his or not, it's important to the community to know as much of the truth as is possible based on the information the police have.

I have talked regularly with the Hudson police about the case over the past three years and I know they are committed to solving it. They are also very cautious and careful when it comes to investigating this or any crime in Hudson, and they are always careful when talking to the press about it, also part of their job.

But things are different now. Father Erickson's suicide has made him the "most interesting" of the "people of interest," and I hope we can know why soon. The people who trusted and believed in him in our community need to know more. People who loved and still miss Dan and James need to know why. And the rest of us who still find it hard to understand how any of this could happen here want to understand.

Maybe we should all resolve to do whatever we have to this year to finally learn the truth about what has happened.

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Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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