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.
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We lost someone very special from our Star-Observer family last week. Catherine "Kay" Johnson died Thursday after gracing this world for more than 96 years. And to say "graced" is not an exaggeration or even a compliment. When it comes to Kay, it is just a fact. Even as I write this, I worry a little about my grammar. When I first started writing for the paper 17 years ago, I was even sloppier than I still can be these days.
It was cold Friday night, and I wasn't exactly looking forward to going out, but it only took a few minutes for the fun and warmth of "The Cemetery Club" to take off the chill and make me glad I'd come. The new Phipps production opened Friday night in the Black Box, a perfect venue for what sometimes seemed like eavesdropping on three old friends. All widows, all Jewish, living in New York, it wouldn't seem like these women would be familiar to us living here in our small, Midwestern town.
To say Joni VanDusartz was blindsided by a cancer diagnosis would be more than an understatement. The news turned the 40-year-old wife and mother's world upside down. But she is moving on with a clearer view than ever of what is really important. It all started for the Hammond woman with a trip to the family doctor in May 2006 for an upper respiratory infection. While there, she asked the doctor to look at a small, red circular rash on one of her breasts. The doctor wasn't too concerned and sent her home with a cream to treat the spot.
While the lawyers are still fine-tuning the paperwork, the contract between the Hudson School District and Hoffman LLC of Appleton calls for the architectural firm to get 5.3 percent of the cost of construction for the new southside elementary school. According to Financial Services Director Tim Erickson, Hoffman's bid was one of the lowest the district considered. While exact construction costs will not be available until after a construction firm is selected, the recent bond referendum was based on an estimated cost of $15,540,000.
After a full day of interviews on Saturday, the Hudson Police and Fire Commission has narrowed its search for a new chief of police to five candidates. The names of the candidates will not be released until salary considerations have been finalized by the City Council and forwarded to the commission. The names of the candidates are expected to be available by the end of the week. Commission Chairman Tom O'Connell said they interviewed seven candidates and are very pleased with the caliber and experience of the five finalists.
More than two dozen middle and high school students gave up a Saturday to learn more about the St. Croix Valley Youth Court. Some were only curious; others knew they wanted to participate. Everyone seemed to understand that the work of the court was important and up to them. The court has been operating in Hudson and some surrounding communities since last fall. It is designed to serve first-time offenders between the ages of 13-18 who are facing municipal ordinance violations like truancy, shoplifting and underage drinking.
At their meeting last week, members of the Hudson Board of Education approved a pilot program that would provide online learning opportunities for students at Hudson High School. Director of Curriculum Service Sandi Kovatch first introduced the idea of online classes at last month's board meeting and received approval for the pilot at the Jan. 9 meeting. The specifics of the pilot will be worked out over the remainder of this year and the summer, and will be available during the 2007-08 school year.
The Hudson Board of Education voted at last week's meeting to have the architectural firm Hoffman LLC of Appleton design the district's new elementary school. Voters approved a bond referendum last month to build the school on property owned by the district at the corner of Coulee Trail and County F in the town of Troy. The school will have capacity for 588 students and will cost an estimated $15 million to build. The firm was recommended by the school board's architect selection committee chaired by board member Dick Muenich.
Hudson Police Sgt. Marty Jensen says he plans to get back to helping his children with their homework now that he has finally completed his own. Jensen graduated with honors from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul last month and was named the class's outstanding student in the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. Jensen has been a member of the Hudson Police Department for 20 years, a sergeant since 1996, and he loves his job. So much so that he hopes to be chief someday. To get there he needed more than experience. He needed a college degree.
The goal sounds simple -- to raise awareness about the genocidal conflict in the East African region of Darfur. But how do you do that among the more than 1,700 teenagers who attend Hudson High School? Answer -- you just start talking. That's how senior Liz Lampman began her effort late last year. Lampman said she learned about the conflict and genocide in Darfur through a television news report two years ago and has followed the conflict ever since. "I was shocked to think that it could be happening again.