Bike park starting to shape up

Photos by Samantha Christian. A small group of volunteers showed up to craft jumps at the Mel Bakke Bike Park on Thursday, Aug. 28. They included, from left, Mike McLeish, 26, Justin Gibbons, 15, organizer Cal Bleiler, 18, and Kaden Fluckiger, 12.

While some high school graduates are content with spending their summer relaxing, 18-year-old Cal Bleiler, of Stoughton, wants to make a difference in his community. He has been busy organizing improvements to the Mel Bakke Bike Park and is looking for more volunteers and donations to help with the efforts.

The bike park, which has trails, ramps and jumps for people to practice their off-road bicycling, has become overgrown with weeds and somewhat neglected. Bleiler wants to change that and make it a place people of all ages can enjoy.

“The park has a bunch of potential, but it is not being used,” he said.

The Stoughton Street and Parks Department has helped bring in dirt and logs for obstacle courses, but volunteers are needed to help Bleiler shovel and shape the new jumps, weed wack and remove rocks from the existing hills and assist with other improvements.


Book illustrates life in Persia

Photo submitted. Jay Hatheway lived in Iran in the 1960s.

As a young boy living in Los Angeles, Jay Hatheway never thought he would spend his formative years in a Middle Eastern desert.

But in 1959, Hatheway’s father, Joe, accepted a position with Richfield Atlantic Oil Companies as chief petroleum engineer in the southern oil fields of Iran. It allowed the family to live an affluent lifestyle, but it also meant moving from Southern California to the Middle East.

Everything was “radically different” in Iran, Jay Hatheway told the Hub this month. It wasn’t just that the culture and the climate differed from America, but the lifestyle did, too.

The countryside was oppressive, barren, dry and lifeless, much like the life of most natives. But the culture, lifestyle and social class discrepancies gave impetus to new life experiences.


Babysitting class photos

Kids ages 11 and older learn how to babysit safely during a class held last month at Stoughton Hospital. Students learned how to change diapers and handle infants in the class taught by Trish Schleicher.


Stoughton High School dance team wins cheer challenge

Photos submitted. The Stoughton High School Dance Team was named grand prize winner and awarded $2,500 for recently competing in the Cheer Challenge during the Madison Mini-Marathon and 5K.

The Stoughton High School Dance Team was named grand prize winner of the 2014 BMO Harris Bank Cheer Challenge and was awarded $2,500 for its group. The second annual challenge kicked off the Madison Mini-Marathon and 5K presented by UW Health on Saturday, Aug. 16.

The Cheer Challenge is a competitive initiative designed to add energy and spirit to the racecourse to help motivate runners. More than 100 participants turned up the volume to cheer on the 5,500 runners from across the Midwest while competing for the cheer title.

Community-based groups, clubs, youth teams and schools applied for the chance to earn a spot to compete. Teams that applied shared how their group impacts the community, how they would add spirit on to the course and how they would use the prize money if they won.

A group of BMO employees judged competing cheer groups on their energy, spirit and creativity. Runners also voted on their favorite cheer group.


Quilt Expo set for Sept. 4-6

The ninth annual Quilt Expo is taking place the first weekend of September in Madison.

The event will feature lectures and displays of many handmade quilts.

Quilt Expo’s lectures are given by notable quilting authorities, and provide an opportunity for quilters of all skill levels to acquire new ideas.

Quilt Expo runs Thursday, Sept. 4 through Saturday, Sept. 6 in the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center.

Quilters from Stoughton whose work will be on display include Shirley Abel (“Vivian’s Quilt”), Mary Quade (“Snowflake Twisted Log Cabin”) and Elaine Shaw (“Walking Among the Flowers”).

Other highlights include a 10-category quilt contest, hundreds of quilts on exhibit, a vendor mall, stage presentations, Sit & Sew and hands-on workshops, nationally known celebrity presenters, the opportunity to meet public television’s Nancy Zieman, a prize raffle, two special evening events and a “Quilt to Give” community service project.


African choir to perform Sept. 5 at Old Yahara School

Photo submitted. The Asante Children’s Choir from East Africa will perform its “Jericho…moving forward” tour at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5, at the Old Yahara School.

Good Shepherd by the Lake Lutheran Church of Stoughton is excited to announce that the Asante Children’s Choir from East Africa is scheduled for a performance of their “Jericho…moving forward” tour on Friday, Sept. 5. The one-hour concert starts at 7 p.m. and is free to the public. The performance will be held at Old Yahara School Gym, 900 W. Wilson St.

The choir will perform traditional African and American worship music, as well as African folk songs, drum music and vibrant dance. The choir is made up of 22 children from East Africa, ages 7-15.

Many of the children are orphans or have parents who are unable to provide for them.


New season brings new and repeat acts

Photo courtesy Glenn Hall. Pokey LaFarge will be at the center of a vaudevillian extravaganza to open the new season on Saturday, Sept. 20.

The first day of new-season ticket sales to the general public was another record-breaker at the Stoughton Opera House.

The restored Victorian theater brought in 64 percent more money when tickets went on sale to the public last Monday, Aug. 18, than last year’s opening day sales: roughly $132,000 this year compared to about $84,000 last year (which had set the previous first-day sales record).

“We are constantly surprised by our successes,” said Opera House director Bill Brehm.

The first performance of the 2014-15 season will take place Sept. 20, with Pokey LaFarge’s Central Time Tour. But already the Opera House has brought in more than 50 percent of the revenue that it needs for the 2014-15 season to balance its budget or show a surplus, Brehm told the Courier Hub last week.


‘Small things of great love’

Photo submitted. The Journey of the Heart volunteer group, which travelled to Marvell, Ark. on a week-long mission trip, poses for a picture in front of a Marvell parish center.

Kristen Nett was walking down the streets of Marvell, Ark. when a stranger waved at her. Soon after, another stranger waved at her too.

In Marvell, this is typical behavior.

“Many people would sit out on picnic tables in their lawns, and invite their neighbors or random people walking down the street over just to chat,” wrote Nett in an email to the Courier Hub.

That’s just how the community works.

“80 percent of the kids in the community didn’t live with a biological parent,” she said. “They had to live with a relative or friend who was already struggling to make ends meet. Instead of worrying about their own problems, families would accept any child and love him or her like their own.”

Nett, 17, was visiting Marvell as part of St. Ann Catholic Parish’s Journey of the Heart mission trip. She was one of 52 middle and high schoolers from the parish participating in a pair of mission trips last month – Journey of the Heart and Love Begins, Here.


Fire Department takes the #ALSIceBucketChallenge photos

Some Stoughton Fire Department members cooled off to raise awareness about Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis by doing the “ice bucket challenge.” The popular social media challenge asks people to dump buckets of ice water on their heads and nominate others to do the same. Participants are also asked to donate to help fight ALS. The Stoughton firefighters asked their police officer and EMS counterparts, as well as Brooklyn Fire/EMS, to do the same.


Fish Boil dinner set for Sept. 5

The annual West Koshkonong Lutheran Church Norwegian Fish Boil will be held Friday, Sept. 5, with dinners at 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Entertainment for the evening will be provided by The Promised Band.

The menu will include boiled cod, red potatoes, carrots, onions, coleslaw, bread, lefse, coffee and milk. Traditional Norwegian goodies, such as Krumkake, Rosettes and Sandbakkels, will also be available.

Advance tickets are $13 and will be on sale until 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5, at Old Deerfield Antiques in Deerfield, The Nordic Nook in Stoughton or by contacting the church office at 873-9456.

Tickets at the door are $14 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12 and free for those under 5.

West Koshkonong Church is handicap accessible, and carry outs are also available. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Luke House community meal program and church projects. Supplemental funding is provided through Thrivent Financial.