By Jayne Gibson Austin Aspires Austin Aspires and Austin Positive Action Coalition are pleased to co-sponsor the Austin Bright Spots Award.Jayne GibsonRecipients of the Bright Spots award are teachers, community members, organizations, or businesses who demonstrate compassion and availability, support and inspiration and welcome and approachability to individuals in Austin. They show care and concern and are engaged and accessible. They provide encouragement or emotional help. They react to others with enjoyment and approval and are friendly and easy to talk to. Congratulations to each of the nominees for this year’s award. The committee honored the following six nominees at the Positively Austin event held at Ruby Rupner Auditorium on Oct. 10. • Ms. Deborah Cook from Sumner Elementary School was nominated for creating a positive relationship with students by visiting them at their homes, sending postcards during breaks and donating time to get students involved in the community on weekends. Her Dressing Room project allows students to “shop” for dress outfits prior to the holiday music program so everyone can go up on stage feeling and looking like a million bucks! • Justice Tabor and Sarah Wermager were honored for the work they have done with the More Than Pink community education program. This program inspired more than 70 girls in grades third through sixth to be true to themselves and live free from societal stereotypes. Justice and Sarah served as Bright Spots to each of these young women, by being someone they could talk to, trust, reach out for support, and learn from. They served as true role models for the participants in the program. • Mr. Chandler Pratt was recognized for the compassion and calm demeanor he brings to every situation. He gives 100 percent in all aspects of life and makes those around him want to be a better person. As the nomination read, “he would give the shirt off his back if someone needed it.” • Ms. Danielle Nesvold was recognized for the many hats she wears in our community — all with the common goal of helping others. When children of her neighborhood showed an interest in what she was doing in her garage, she showed them how they too could workout, gain confidence, and live a healthier lifestyle while having fun and supporting others. The gathering of the neighborhood children to workout became known as 10th Street Muscle. Additionally, she has been an active voice to raise awareness around human trafficking, bullying, neighborhood watch and more in our community. • Ms. Gretchen Erickson’s tireless work to support readers in our community was recognized through the Bright Spots awards. Gretchen does so many things in our community to support literacy for all. One of those include the Reader’s Café that partners with the summer lunch program at IJ Holton. “Gretchen is a consummate volunteer and shows up ready to engage and work. She is a good listener and is always ready and willing to take the time to talk with children.” Congratulations to this year’s recipients of the Bright Spots Award. Thank you for making our community a brighter place for all.
44 roosters harvested during hunt AUSTIN — By all accounts, this weekend’s ninth annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunt Opener was a success. One-hundred seventy hunters joined Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan Saturday in fields surrounding Austin and throughout the area to kick off the pheasant season. By day’s end, despite wet conditions and delayed field harvests, 44 roosters were taken. On Friday night, 457 people attended the community banquet. But in some ways, the success of the opener was highlighted in two different fields. Gov. Walz broke a years-in-the-making drought with a rooster in the field he was walking. “It’s been a nine-year curse at the governor’s hunt,” Walz said. “I broke it.” Elsewhere, in a field owned by Gus Maxfield, 13-year-old Preston Schlichter scored his first ever pheasant, smiling when the bird was handed to him. These were just a couple of the successes Austin and organizers can claim this weekend. “Hats off to all the people that helped,” Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener committee Chairwoman Sandy Forstner said. “There’s been a lot of people involved, and I think it’s gone as well as it could have.” The day started in picturesque form as the sun painted the landscape in a perfect fall scene. But in the field Schlichter was hunting, along with his uncle and hunter host Guy Kohlnhofer, hunter host Kirk Rolfson, and hunters Mark Norquist and Jamie Carlson, conditions quickly changed in about a half an hour. Snow began falling, and by the time hunters were showing up around 11:30 a.m. at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center to register their take, the snow changed to thick and heavy flakes. Combined with that, winds blew briskly over the fields, further complicating the hunt. In the end, the group had only a scattering of opportunities, resulting in just two birds. The second was taken by Java, Rolfson’s British labrador, who caught the bird as it was running. Yet for all of the group’s challenges, the team still found the day to be a success. “With the snow, it was better,” Carlson argued. “The sun’s out, everybody gets their limit — it’s a perfect day, fun. But these days won’t leave my memories.” “Every experience is fun,” he added. Norquist agreed. “Just being out in this beautiful country,” he said. “The winds were blowing, and it was just fun going for a walk.” Walz reported his group came across eight to nine roosters during his time in the field and they got a couple good shots off. In his mind, the day was another indicator on how the weekend went. “I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he said. “This is why we do it.” Looking back over the two days, Forstner said the event came together on all fronts, highlighting the community and the area. “I think it’s gone great,” he said. “It’s been exciting and enthusiastic, not just with the hunters, but in the community.”