Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at http://lagniappe.areavoices.com/.
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GEORGE, Iowa -- When she needs to take a message or jot down a note, Agnes Kruse never has to look too far to find a writing implement. There are at least a couple thousand pencils and pens hanging around in her George home. Now 90 years old, Kruse has collected pencils, later expanding into the realm of pens, since she was in her teens. "I suppose I was about 14, 15 -- something like that," she related about her hobby's origin. "I had to do correspondence for my dad.
WORTHINGTON -- They range in age from 7 and 11. They come from Africa, from countries with some of the greatest needs -- Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana. Many of them are orphans, having lost parents to poverty and disease. But now, they are members of the African Children's Choir and have a chance to attend a school that will provide food, shelter, education and love. As part of its fall and winter tour, the African Children's Choir will perform a concert at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Worthington.
LISMORE -- Gloria Wieneke has yet to meet Loretta Lynn, but she's been told it's only a matter of time before she comes face to face with the country music icon. "I hope I'll be able to not fall over" when it happens, she said. "I hope I'm able to be cordial, hope I'm able to converse with her." Performing under the name Gloria Jean, Wieneke is part of a tribute show to Lynn and has spent every weekend over the past several months singing for tips at Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
WORTHINGTON -- Kevin and Kami Lease were reveling in having their daughter, Lindsey, home safely Tuesday after two days of distress about her safety and whereabouts. "We're tired, Lindsey's tired, but she's home," said Kami Tuesday afternoon, explaining that Lindsey had been resting for most of the day. "She's just exhausted. Kevin and I slept for a few hours; our baby was home." The Leases were notified shortly after 11 p.m.
WORTHINGTON -- Retirement doesn't sit too well with John Berry. "I just quit teaching two years ago," related Berry, who recently turned 85. "I'm a little unhappy not doing it still. I have energy, I'm alert, and I just love to make life miserable for the students. Fifty years -- do you think that's long enough? I taught full-time for 35 years and was an adjunct professor for 15." Berry may no longer teach formally, but he continues to share his love and knowledge of art with students.
WORTHINGTON -- After finally navigating through several years' worth of paperwork and red tape, Rena Willardson thought the U.S. citizenship ceremony would merely be a formality. She didn't expect to get choked up. "It was (a formality) until the last 10 minutes, when they played the message from President George Bush on video, then they sang 'Proud to be an American.' That's the moment it hit," Rena explained. "I thought I was going to coast right through, but it got a little touchy at the end." Rena was among 32 immigrants from 14 countries who were welcomed as new U.S.
WORTHINGTON -- Liz Radtke is a native of Florida, and her husband, Ryan, hails from Wisconsin. So when this pastoral couple started thinking about job placement after seminary, they hoped for a location somewhere between. "When our assignment said Region 3 (the Upper Midwest), we were in shock," recalled Liz. "Region 3 was not at all on our radar. At first, it really did scare me. I'm originally from a populous area, and we knew that Region 3 included North Dakota.
LUVERNE -- Morning showers brought a sea of umbrellas to Luverne's Main Street but didn't keep people away from the 57th annual Tri-State Band Festival. Proud parents and marching band enthusiasts lined the sidewalks Saturday to watch area students strut their stuff in the morning parade competition. This year's event attracted 15 bands to the parade competition and 17 bands to the field competition later in the day at Luverne High School Athletic Field.
PIPESTONE -- Two centuries ago, Minnesota had 18 million acres of tallgrass prairie. That prairie has mainly disappeared, tilled under by plows, with less than 1 percent of the original acreage remaining. But pockets of native prairie still exist, such as the land surrounding the Pipestone National Monument.
WORTHINGTON -- One out of every 10 people has a hearing loss. That means one out of 10 people, and probably even more in a community with a large elderly population, isn't hearing and understanding the message being relayed in a church service. David and Cathy Harrison, missionaries with Silent Word Ministries who currently live in Chattanooga, Tenn., want to help churches reach out to hard-of-hearing people and will conduct a Hearing Accessible Workshop Oct.