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Online bullying morphs into fights at Fairmont High

News From Greater Minnesota

It’s been a slow news week in Minnesota. That doesn’t mean that with a little digging, a fellow can’t come up with some interesting stuff.

For example, Kylie Saari of the Fairmont Sentinel wrote a piece on online bullying that has spilled over into fights at the high school. A physical altercation last week in the school lunchroom was handled by school staff, the assailant was suspended for three days, and police were called for a possible fifth-degree assault charge. But the effects lingered in cyberspace with trash talk on Facebook following the fight, including continued threats and insults. Saari got this excellent quote from Superintendent Joe Brown: “There are about 10 girls who are just vicious to each other,” Brown said, adding that the high school has dealt with four or five fights in the nine weeks since school started. “Facebook is going to destroy this country.” As the parent of three girls in grades six through 12, I can tell you that Facebook might not destroy this country, but giving vicious girls another medium to be mean sure doesn’t help.

Sometime this week, four Willmar students and two turkeys (the heir and the spare, I suppose) will be leaving for Washington to be the annual “Turkey That Gets a Presidential Pardon from the President on Thanksgiving.” Carolyn Lange of the West Central Tribune has the details. Rick Huisinga, chairman of the National Turkey Federation and executive vice president of the Willmar Poultry Company, invited the Willmar High School FFA to participate in the process to turn the gangly young birds into stately, mature presidential turkeys. Choosing the National Thanksgiving Turkey started with a batch of run-of-the-mill commercial turkeys hatched July 7 in Kandiyohi County. At 10 weeks, 30 of the turkeys were cornered and caught. The toms have since been housed in special locked quarters that are kept secret and exceptionally clean because of bio-security issues. The students spend at least an hour every weekday with the birds giving them food, water and shelter as well as cuddling, petting, cleaning, singing and hoisting the birds onto tables to prepare them for their televised appearance in front of President Obama. The final selection of which bird and a back-up will travel to Washington, D.C., will be made a day or two before the departure. After appearing at the White House, both birds will spend the rest of their lives at the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. The remaining 28 left behind will be processed and the meat donated to area food shelves.

The picture tells the story on this one. A parking lot repainting job at St. Michael’s Housing in New Ulm hit a snag when it was discovered the only handicapped parking stall was inaccessible, writes Josh Moniz of the New Ulm Journal. The stall was originally located directly in front of the building’s entrance, but when the painting was completed, the stall was relocated directly behind a light pole. Manager Holly Haala declined to name the company that made the incredibly boneheaded mistake, but she said it would be contacted immediately to solve the problem. St. Michael’s is owned by CommonBond Communities, a nonprofit provider of affordable housing and Section 8 housing services.

Who knew? The acronym STEM, used in education circles to identify an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, was coined by Winona State University President Judith Ramaley. Jerome Christenson of the Winona Daily News writes that in 2001, Ramaley was director of the National Science Foundation’s education and human resources division, working to develop curriculum that would enhance education in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. The initial result was labeled with the acronym SMET. “I didn’t like the sound of that word,” Ramaley said. She suggested STEM as an alternative. It stuck. Think the story ends there? It doesn’t. Ramaley points to how Apple, under the direction of Steve Jobs, created devices that are compelling because they are both useful and beautiful, as an example of how the arts and sciences can complement and strengthen each other. STEM is becoming STEAM, she said: The “A” stands for arts. “It gives us the power to create solutions to problems we know we have and the opportunities we didn’t know were out there,” she said.

Tom Hintgen of the Fergus Falls Journal puts a local spin on the deer season. He writes that deer hunting harvest numbers were down during the nine-day gun season that ended Sunday. There were, however, some pockets of success. One of the areas where hunters had good luck was the Dalton area. That’s where Mark Strortroen, former president of the Fergus Falls Deer Hunters Association, hunted with his son Ty, father, Art, and four others. “We were able to harvest five deer on opening day,” Stortroen said. Barry’s Short Stop in Ashby registered only seven deer. Deer hunting also was slow in the Pelican Rapids area where only nine deer were registered between 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. the final day of the gun season. Over in the Perham area, longtime resident Larry Lange said “This was a tough year for most deer hunters, and the ones who were able to come home with deer feel fortunate.” That comment was echoed by Roger Froemming who represents the Parkers Prairie area on the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners. “It was a slow deer season in our area as well,” he said.

You knew this had to happen someplace, and it did in Bemidji. Bethany Wesley of the Bemidji Pioneer writes that for the second time in her life, Eva Magawa’s birthday falls on 11-11-11. Evangeline “Eva” Sampson was born in Eckles Township in Beltrami County to Conrad and Brita Sampson. She was the sixth child of 10, though not all survived. After Eva completed eighth grade, her family sent her and another sister to live with three sisters who were already living in New York. Eva attended high school in Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. After graduation, she worked as a stenographer and Dictaphone operator in New York City with British Insurance. When her sister married, Eva began writing to the groom’s brother, who was serving in World War II. When the brother, Bob, returned from the war, he and Eva met and married when she was 35 years old. Bob was from Minnesota so after the marriage in New York, they drove a Model A home to visit family. They settled in Itasca County on 80 acres near the Chippewa National Forest. Bob was a logger. The couple’s son, Ken, was fraught with medical problems. Every time one doctor said he wouldn’t make it, Eva would find a new one who believed he could. Ken is now 63. The couple remained in their Itasca County home for more than 40 years but, eventually, Bob showed signs of Alzheimer’s and they moved to Bemidji’s Evergreen Acres and, later, Bob went to live in Havenwood. Eva went from Evergreen Acres to Neilson Place and, later, to Havenwood, where she has now lived for nearly six years.

The Occupy movement continues its march across America. About 75 people participated in Occupy Brainerd, a peaceful demonstration in front of the Wells Fargo Brainerd branch Saturday afternoon, reports Jodie Tweed of the Brainerd Dispatch“It went very well,” said Terry Sluss, an Occupy Brainerd organizer. “Everybody that was there demonstrating really felt positive support from the community as people drove by.” The theme of the demonstration was “Make Wall Street Pay.” Sluss said the group chose Wells Fargo because after doing some research, they discovered a significant number of housing foreclosures in Brainerd were mortgages held by Wells Fargo. Sluss said the group was respectful of the Wells Fargo employees working there at the time. He said the branch apparently called Brainerd Police for employees to be escorted to their vehicles after the branch closed at 2 p.m. but there were no problems.

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