Friday, March 13, 2009

Fusion bring home state title

The St. Croix Valley Fusion gathered after Hailey Rock scored the winning goal in double overtime against Mosinee the WIAA state semifinal game on Friday. The Fusion went on to beat Fond du Lac 10-4 in the title game on Saturday to win the title and end the season with an undefeated record.

The St. Croix Valley Fusion, a cooperative of Baldwin-Woodville, River Falls, St. Croix Central and Spring Valley, set out on a mission at the beginning of the hockey season. And that mission was accomplished last weekend at the WIAA state girls hockey tournament in Madison.
The Fusion had been eliminated in the sectional final the last three seasons. This year their goal was to not only get to the state tournament, but to bring home the title. They did just that by beating Mosinee (Central Wisconsin Storm) 2-1 in double overtime in the state semifinal and Fond du Lac 10-4 in the state championship.
And they are the first team in Wisconsin girls hockey to go through the entire season without a loss. There only blemish was a 3-3 tie with North St. Paul the fourth game into the season.
“I had no idea we were the first team to do that,” said Coach Matt Cranston. “You can’t go a whole year without having a bad game, so that’s a credit to (assistant coaches) Karl Erickson and and Ann Rock.”
Cranston said another key to the season was “everyone on the team has respect for each other.”
At the state tournament, Cranston said one of the biggest obstacles was the “hot” rink.
“We’re used a cold rink with hard ice,” Cranston explained. “We did a skate around in the morning to get used to bounces and everything, but the heat was something we had to deal with.”
The Fusion also had to deal with the Storm. “We knew they were the returning state champions,” Cranstonsaid. “They have one of the best goalies in the entire WIAA. But we knew if we kept pounding, one would go in. We dominated the third period and overtimes.”
The Fusion got on a the scoreboard first when Tara Frey slid the puck under Mosinee’s Hillary Drake six and a half minutes into the game while the Fusion were on the power play. Frey was assisted by Tori Klingler and Hailey Rock.
That ended the scoring until just over four minutes into the third period when the Storm also scored on a power play.
No goals were scored for the remainder of regulation or in the first overtime, although the Fusion had plenty of good opportunities.
The Fusion out shot the Storm 18-9 in third period and overtimes, but couldn’t get the puck past Drake until Rock carried the puck in on the right side and shot the puck on the ice through five hole, catching the far post, all while being pulled to the ice.
“That was the championship game for us,” Cranston noted. “We changed the way we conditioned this year and I think it worked. We out-lasted both teams.”
Although the championship game turned out to be a rout, it didn’t start that way. Fond du Lac scored first, just a minute and half into the game, on a power play. The Fusion tied the score four minutes later on a goal by Frey, assisted by Rock to end the first period scoring.
The Fusion took the lead just 32 seconds into the second period on a power play goal by Lily Cranston, assisted by Nikki Plunkett. But Fondy came back less than a minute later to tie the score 2-2.
“I don’t know why we started out so slow,” Cranston said. “We didn’t change anything and then we settled down and got back into our game.”
Then the flood gates opened.
The Fusion scored the next seven goals to take a 9-2 lead before Fond du Lac answered with a couple of meaningless goals.
Adding goals in the second period were Karlyn Sturtevant on a power play, assisted by Tanis Klingler; Lily Cranston got the next two goals to complete her hat trick, assisted by Plunkett (2) and Tanis Klingler; and Rock closed out the scoring by going top shelf after taking outlet pass from Tanis Klinger while the team played short handed.
In the third period Frey had her second goal of the game, with assists from Klingler and Alice Cranston. Alice got the next two goals, assisted by Rock and Tori Klingler on the first and Tanis Klingler on the second, which was the fifth assist of the game for Klingler.
Rock closed out the scoring for the Fusion after picking off a pass while forechecking and again going upstairs.
“We set a bunch of scoring records in the tournament,” Cranston noted.
The Fusion will be losing four seniors to graduation, Cranston noted. “We’re going to miss the seniors. They are all on the honor and all made it a lot of fun.”
The seniors on the team are Karlyn Sturtevant, Erin Thornton, Gail Popelka and Devin Roen.
As a final note, Cranston said the team wishes to thank the First Bank of Baldwin for the donation making the charter bus to and from Madison possible.

Karen Niccum, R.N. retires from BAMC after over 42 years of service

It was with mixed emotions that Karen Niccum retired last week from her position as a nurse at the Baldwin Area Medical Center. "It feels really strange," states Niccum. "Nursing has been such a large part of my life, I can't imagine what it will be like not taking care of patients on a regular basis anymore."
Niccum started working as a nursing assistant at BAMC when she was a senior in high school. She attended Lutheran Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing, graduated in 1968 and began her career as a Registered Nurse at BAMC that same year. She began working as a nurse on the medical floor and within six months became the supervisor of the operating room, a new department that was forming at the hospital. She held that position until just three years ago, when she felt it was time to start orienting someone else to the position. During her time as OR Supervisor, she worked concurrently as Director of Nursing for three years. "I've always loved working in the OR. There is so much satisfaction in seeing people through the surgical process. I have found great joy in witnessing the improvement in people's lives after surgery." Over the years, Niccum has had the opportunity to work with many long-time, dedicated doctors, physician's assistants, nurses and ancillary staff members from the community.
There have been many changes at the hospital in the over 40 years that Niccum has been employed there. "I have been a part of three building projects, observed changes in patient care and witnessed countless medical advancements."
BAMC has played an important role in the personal life of Niccum as well. In 1968, she was caring for a patient named David Niccum who was hospitalized for several days. Before he was discharged David gathered the courage to ask her for a date. Six months later they were saying their wedding vows and will celebrate 40 wonderful years of marriage this April. BAMC was also the birth place of not only Karen, but of her children and grandchildren as well.
"I am grateful that God has blessed me with a meaningful career of caring for my family, friends and community all of these years. I think I will always be a nurse in some way. It is just part of who I am," states Niccum.
The Niccums invite their family, friends and community to an open house at the Coachman Supper to help celebrate Karen's retirement and David and Karen's 40th Wedding Anniversary on March 29 from 1 to 5 p.m.

Rev. Janet Ruark is Interim Pastor at Presbyterian Church

Rev. Janet Ruark has accepted the position of Interim Pastor at First United Presbyterian Church in Baldwin. Pastor Ruark started in the position March 1.
Pastor Ruark said that as an interim pastor, she sees herself as helping the church's session and congregation form a plan for the future of the church and what they need for a pastor and what type of skills are needed. She said that an interim pastor, she is "working yourself out of a job by helping the congregation prepare for a new person."
Other than that, Pastor Ruark said she will have the normal pastoral duties, including holding the Sunday service, attending meetings, visitation and teaching. She will be engaged in her duties on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and of course on Sundays.
Pastor Ruark grew up in Sioux City, Iowa where her father was a biology professor at Morningside College. She attended Marquette for one year before enrolling in seminary at Louisville, Kentucky, where she met her husband who was also attending seminary. She and her husband Chaz graduated in 1982. Since then they have served churches in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. They have always served separate churches.
The Ruarks have two children: Mike who is studying architecture at the University of Oklahoma and will graduate in May; and daughter Courtney who attends the University of Central Oklahoma studying political science and hopes to teach. She was married last May and her husband Phil is a graduate student studying chemical engineering and is interested in medical research.
Since last October Pastor Ruark and her husband have been in Minneapolis where Chaz is Executive Presbyter of the Twin Cities Area Presbytery. Pastor Ruark explained his job is like a district superintendent in an administrative and supervisory role and he also serves as pastor of the pastors.
After Chaz secured the Executive Presbyter job, Janet looked for a job and interviewed for the Baldwin position, for which she then received a call.

From the Exchanges
    Interesting News Items from
         Surrounding Communities

TRIBUNE PRESS REPORTER (GLENWOOD CITY): Charges have been filed against Michael C. Graff of West Fargo, North Dakota for shooting a 700-pound black bear in its den on the morning of November 25. Graff has been charged with hunting bear during a closed season, shooting or harming a hibernating bear, and shooting a bear without a license. Though the charges are misdemeanors, Graff could face up to 27 months in jail and $30,000 in fines. But Graff has stirred up a mess that goes beyond his poaching attempt. Graff left the bear in the field and a day and a half later, the monster bear was struck by Neil Schlough in the evening while combining the field. Believing the collision killed the bear at the time with darkness concealing the bear's stature, a game warden sold the Schloughs a possession tag. After discovering the bear had been shot, DNR authorities confiscated the bear. The Schloughs contend that the combine dealt the final deathblow to the bear and that the bear was legally sold to them while DNR authorities are certain the bear died from the gunshots and prefer to have the bear remain in the possession of the state and be displayed locally. What will happen to the remains of the bear has yet to be determined and will have to wait until the case has been closed. Graff is due in court March 22.

THE SUN (OSCEOLA): More than a year ago, teacher Abby Brown envisioned a classroom full of activity, where instead of fidgeting in uncomfortable desks and chairs, students can stand, stretch and wiggle and move about while they learn. With the help of some grant monies and a little innovation from a company based in nearby Centuria, Brown has not only seen that vision come to fruition, she's seen it on display in newspapers and television stations across the nation. "The word is out now," said Brown excitedly during an interview last week. Brown, a sixth grade teacher at Marine on St. Croix (Minn.) Elementary School, has, in the past year been interviewed by ABC News, the New York Times and most of the major Twin Cities media outlets about her "Standing Up for Learning" project. The project is simple and logical, really. Instead of possibly encouraging a sedentary lifestyle by having children sit in one spot all day, let the students choose between sitting on a stool, or leaning or standing at a waist-high desk, to keep their bodies active, and, hopefully, their minds engaged.

RIVER FALLS JOURNAL: A state commissioner was justified in denying parole to a man who shot his wife to death 22 years ago, ruled Pierce County Judge Robert Wing last week. In May 1987, Wing sentenced Richard John Kusch, now 65, to life in prison. A jury had found Kusch guilty of first-degree murder for shooting his wife in front of their son and an employee of Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Abuse. In a single-page ruling filed Feb. 24, Wing affirmed the state commission decision that delayed any further parole consideration for 18 months. Last June Kusch, a prisoner at Racine Correctional Institution, Sturtevant, filed a civil complaint, claiming his conduct during two decades as an inmate has been exemplary and that parole would be appropriate. In his ruling, Wing says Parole Commissioner Steven Landreman's decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious. "Kusch planned and committed the murder, the murder was committed in the presence of a social worker and one of Kusch's children and he shot his wife multiple times," summarized Wing. Based on those facts, wrote the judge, the commissioner was justified in finding that Kusch hasn't served enough prison time. Kusch claimed Landreman's decision was "nebulous" because it says "more time is warranted" and suggests "eventual transition through reduced security" but doesn't give guidance or explain what those phrases mean.

NEW RICHMOND NEWS: Charges have been dismissed against a New Richmond School bus driver who allegedly had alcohol in her bloodstream at the time of a minor accident December 11. A motion and order to dismiss charges against Billie Jeanne O'Keefe of New Richmond was signed Feb. 25 by St. Croix County Court officials. According to police reports, preliminary breath tests indicated O'Keefe recorded a .046 blood alcohol level at the time of the accident. O'Keefe allegedly told officers she was out celebrating her birthday the night before. A test conducted later on O'Keefe registered a .026 alcohol level. The bus driver, who was placed on administrative leave, eventually pleaded not guilty to the charge that she was operating a commercial vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration of .04 or more. "Upon further testing and clarifying, she did not have a prohibited concentration (of alcohol in her blood)," said O'Keefe's attorney Shirlene Perrin. "Clearly the PBT (portable breath test) was inaccurate. Perrin said it's important for the public to know that charges have been dismissed in the case. "There has been a lot of on-line discussion about this case and Ms. O'Keefe has been judged by some," she said. "Now we can see she is innocent." New Richmond school District Administrator Morrie Veilleux said O'Keefe has apparently returned to work as a bus monitor. She has not been driving a bus since the incident. Veilleux said the district will invoke a portion of its bus contract that allows the school to ask the contractor, New Richmond Bus Service to replace any school bus drivers who maybe "detrimental to the best interest" of the district and its students. "We're going to insist that this person not be allowed to operate a bus," Veilluex said.