Dancers highlight Destination Weekend

Another day of Scandinavian entertainment is coming up in February.

The annual Norse Afternoon of Fun will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, in the Stoughton High School gymnasium. The afternoon features the high school’s Norwegian Dancers, as well as drawings for prizes, several awards and the presentation of the Syttende Mai king and queen.

The Sunday event is the culmination of another “Destination Stoughton” weekend held by the Norwegian Summit group in an effort to draw visitors to Stoughton.

Norse afternoon

The annual performance is billed as a Norwegian, family-friendly event that offers a way to beat the with some lively song and dance.


Super Opportunity

Photo submitted. Stoughton residents Ryan McGrath and Paul Pellet of the Ryan McGrath Band will perform at a Super Bowl event next week in Tempe, Ariz. The band will also perform in Madison on Feb. 6.

When they first met, Tom Pietras was a veteran drummer thinking about resurrecting a music career, while Stoughton’s Ryan McGrath was a teenage guitar player thinking about getting one started.

Both Oregon residents at the time, they were part of a new contemporary worship group at Holy Mother of Consolation Catholic Church. Despite a 29-year age difference, they soon bonded on their love of the blues, forming their own band and playing nearly every week.

Five years ago, McGrath went off to college, but last March, they reconnected. And after just a few months back together with a new group that plays in the area, the band got that much-hoped-for  big break: They’re the opening band at a Super Bowl week event in Arizona on Jan. 29.


Family medicine

Photo by Kimberly Wethal. From left, Erin and Sheri Wurtzler join their mother, Tracy, and sister, Stephanie Hillis, for a brief encounter at Stoughton Hospital, where all are employed.

Tracy Wurtzler jokes that visitors can’t “turn a corner at the hospital without running into one of us.”

That’s because the Stoughton Hospital surgical services manager is one of four people in her immediate family – along with her three daughters, Sheri, Erin and Stephanie Hillis – who work at the hospital.

Most employees at the hospital have become accustomed to the four family members all working there and don’t make much of it, said Sheri, 27, the last of the four to settle there.

“Occasionally someone will say they should rename the hospital or something along those lines, but that’s about it,” she said.

Once in a while, a patient will get the curious experience of being transferred from one nurse to her sister.


Cooksville Family Winter Night photos

Residents of Cooksville and surrounding communities attended the Family Winter Night, hosted by the Cooksville Community Center, on Saturday, Jan. 17, at Cooksville Lutheran Church. Activities at the event included dancing lessons taught by Chris and Emily Beebe and a variety of board games to play. Upcoming Family Winter Nights will be held at the church from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Saturdays Feb. 21 and March 14.


Stoughton Community Foundation awards grants

The “official” season of giving may be over, but for the Stoughton Area Community Foundation, it’s a year-round effort. The group recently announced grant recipients for 2015.

Additionally, the Stoughton Arts District received $2,000 for signage in the newly designated arts and entertainment district in downtown Stoughton, and the Stoughton Village Players received $1,500 for equipment to enhance audio at performances.


Beat the winter blahs with books

Winter is here in all its frosty glory. But for those who would rather spend the cold season indoors, reading, learning and talking about books and authors, the Stoughton Public Library has plenty of book discussion groups to choose from.

The traditional adult book discussion group meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. Titles are varied, but include mostly fiction with an occasional non-fiction title. The reading for January 27 is “How to Save a Life,” by Sarah Zarr. Feb. 24 is “The Art Forger,” by Barbara Shapiro. This book discussion will also be held the next day at the Stoughton Senior Center, beginning at 1 p.m. The reading for March 24 will be “The Weight of Blood,” by Laura McHugh.


Lamers retirement party Jan. 21

The city is holding a retirement party for Fire Department chief Marty Lamers next week.

He is retiring Feb. 1 after starting as a volunteer on the Fire Department in 1972 and becoming its first paid chief in 2005. The event begins at 4 p.m. and will be held at the fire station, 401 E. Main St.

The event is free and the public is invited. Mayor Donna Olson and organizations involved in supporting the department will be on hand to recognize Lamers’ years of service. For more information, contact the department at 873-7218.


Building Community

Photos by Scott De Laruelle. Workers are finishing construction of the Norwegian Heritage Center on the corner of Main and Page streets.

Construction has taken longer than expected, but that’s not a big concern for the organizers of a Norwegian Heritage Center being built downtown.

More important is that it’s built right and includes all the necessary components, said Jerry Gryttenholm, a trustee with the Bryant Foundation.

The foundation is the sole owner and funder of the two-story, 15,000-square-foot building at the corner of Main Street and Page Street. The center’s main floor will be approximately 9,000 square feet.

Construction on the building began in early December 2013, and Gryttenholm anticipates a “soft opening” or two before the center opens permanently to the public.

“I would say the big opening would be late spring,” he said. “That’s assuming that the contractors and subcontractors are going to be able to stay on schedule.”

Construction progresses


Elvis at the Senior Center photos

The Stoughton Senior Center celebrated Elvis’ birthday this week with impersonator Alan Graveen and his “Strictly Elvis” show on Tuesday. With around 75 people in attendance, the show featured Graveen singing classic Elvis songs and getting the audience involved with his act. 


Rosemaling classes offered in Feb., March

Two rosemaling classes, organized by Nancy Odalen, will be offered at Sons of Norway - Mandt Lodge, 317 S. Page St. There will be a pre-beginning class, for students who have not rosemaled before, and an adult class, for individuals with some experience.

Pre-beginning rosemaling class

This is a basics class that will provide beginning painters with a firm foundation in the art of rosemaling. At this level, students will learn brush control and technique, complete a basic scroll and a flower form in the Ryfylke (old Rogaland) style.

Students will also learn how to background woodenware. The final task will be to paint a Ryfylke design of at least 3-4 inches in both height and width.

The class will be taught in oils and work will be done on practice boards. Supplies will be provided.