Pitching in for the Yahara

Thanks to annual cleanup efforts going back two decades, the Yahara River and surrounding walking trails are one of the area’s scenic jewels.

People can help keep it that way this Saturday during this year’s River and Trails Task Force cleanup, set to begin at 9 a.m. at the pedestrian bridge at Division Park. River and Trails Task Force chairman Jon

Lewis said in recent years, as volunteers have had to pull less debris from the river, they have more time to expand efforts to neighboring parks and trails.

“The first time we did this, it was tractor tires and everything,” he said. “We’ve found shopping carts, big tires, and lots of Styrofoam bait containers, which really angers me, because fishermen are supposed to be environmentally aware.”

Lewis credited city efforts to reduce harmful run-off into the river as helping keep it clean from chemicals, as well.


Stoughton Expo photos

There’s no business like a Stoughton business – that’s what visitors found out last week at the Stoughton Area Community Expo. The third annual event – sponsored by the Stoughton Area Chamber of Commerce – gave visitors a chance to mingle with nearly 60 Stoughton-area businesses at the Stoughton Wellness and Athletic Center.


Friends of the Library fashion show photos

The Friends of the Library hosted its annual Spring Fling fashion show Saturday at Banushi’s Bar and Grill. Models showed the latest fashions and accessories as part of an afternoon that helps raise money for the Stoughton Public Library.


Accio Firebolt!

Photo courtesy Waukesha Parks and Recreation Department. Tweens in Stoughton will have a chance to play quidditch this summer through the Stoughton Parks and Recreation Department. Players will try to score by throwing balls through hoops at each end of the field, while another player from each team tries to track down the “snitch.” The first team to catch the snitch is awarded 30 points and match is over, whereas a ball through the hoop only earns 10 points.

Magical powers aren’t needed to be part of a new recreation event aimed at Stoughton youth this summer.

Stoughton Rec will be offering quidditch – a game popularized by author J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” fantasy book series.

The program is open to 10-12 year olds (mostly first years at Hogwarts) and will meet from 6-7 p.m. Wednesdays from June 18 through July 23 at Racetrack Park.

No experience is necessary and you don’t have to be a Harry Potter fan, explained Dan Glynn, who brought the idea to Stoughton after seeing it played in Waukesha last summer.

“It should be a good alternative program for children in non-traditional sports as we are not looking for it to be competitive in nature,” Glynn told the Hub.

Gameplay will be similar to what’s written in Rowling’s series of books - though most participants likely won’t be flying on brooms.


A Healing Hand

Photos by Kimberly Wethal. Katherine Christenson holds up some of the scrapbooks she made from calendars and magazines that she donated to the Stoughton Hospital. They were donated on March 27.

Katherine Christenson has been a caregiver for as long as she can remember.

“(My family) took care of a little old lady down the street,” Christenson said. “We’d go and get her groceries for her, because she didn’t have a car, and if we were lucky, she’d give us a nickel.”

Christensen is now using that caregiver instinct to create scrapbooks that are donated to the Stoughton area, including Stoughton Hospital on March 27. The scrapbooks will be used with patients with varying needs, such as dementia, during their stay.

Christenson started this project when she inherited a cat, named Mickey, from a family member.

“So I took the cat, and of course when you have a cat, you have to have Cat Fancy magazine to know what to do,” Christenson said. “I had accumulated three years’ worth of Cat Fancy magazines, and said, ‘Gee, I could become a hoarder.’ So I decided to make something of the pictures in the catalogs and magazines.”


Annual egg hunt is Saturday

Kids, get ready to track down some Easter treats. The Stoughton Kiwanis Club would like to invite families with children ages 8 and younger to participate in its sixth Annual Easter Egg Hunt at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Mandt Park ball diamond.  

The free event is open to children eight and younger, accompanied by an adult. Local Kiwanians and high school students from the Stoughton Area Key Club will supervise the event. In addition to the actual Easter Egg Hunt, there will be photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny, so parents are encouraged to bring a camera.  

Children should bring a basket or bag to put their eggs in. In case of rain, the event will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 19.

The Stoughton Kiwanis Club meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month at the Vennevoll Clubhouse at 5:30 p.m. For more information on Key Club and Kiwanis, visit or call club president Glen McNaughton at 877-1055.


Chamber’s Community Expo set for April 10

The annual Stoughton Chamber of Commerce Community Expo looks to expand even more this year with a couple of demonstrations from area businesses.

This year marks the third year the chamber has hosted the event as a chance to showcase what local businesses have to offer each other and the community.

Chamber director Erica Dial said two businesses – Moyer’s Landscaping and Atelier on Main – would host demonstrations during the event April 10, at the Sports Enhancement Academy Gymnasium at the Stoughton Wellness and Athletic Center.

“We’ve grown it every year,” Dial said.

Moyers will be the first demonstration at 5:30 p.m. with Atelier on Main taking over at 6:30 p.m. Specific details about the demonstrations hadn’t been fully hashed out as of press time Tuesday.

In addition to the new demonstrations, the expo – which is free and open to the public – will last about a half hour longer. The event runs from 5-7:30 p.m. this year.


Heritage Center construction progresses

File photo. Bryant Foundation trustee Jerry Gryttenholm said a challenging winter has slowed progress, but the new Norwegian Heritage Center is coming along.

A difficult winter construction season and building permitting process have combined to push back the anticipated opening of the Norwegian Heritage Center that the Byrant Foundation is building in downtown Stoughton.

Foundation officials had hoped to have the two-story, 15,000-square-foot building completed by the end of the summer. But Jerry Gryttenholm, a trustee with the foundation, thinks it’s more likely that the building shell will be up by mid-October. He expects the center will be completed in time for an open house sometime in early 2015.

Construction on the project began in early December with excavating at the site.

Gryttenholm said work has been taking place all winter, but “winter hasn’t been very kind to us.”

“There were a lot of things that we had to overcome in regard to the site itself,” he noted.

The excavation is now done and the building’s waterproofing system is in the ground, he said.


‘Never a Dull Moment’

A career of 58 years ends with a sound Stoughton Fire Department assistant fire chief Melvin “Red” Benschop has heard thousands of times before.

As former and current SFD members celebrate at his retirement reception March 27, suddenly, their pagers go off – the room of around 40 guests goes silent. But it wasn’t an emergency, just a playfully planned “thank you” to mark the end of the 81-year-old’s legacy.

Everyone cheers as “Red” throws his fists into the air and his robust smile creeps from ear to ear. That famous smile is just a small part of Benschop’s bright personality and loyalty to the department that members said they’ll miss about the longest serving SFD member.


Following His Bliss

Photos submitted. Paul Sveum takes a break from chopping firewood at camp during his 70-mile trek through the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area in February and March.

The idea of camping in winter would send a cold shiver through most people. You would think the idea of winter camping for 19 days would be out of the question for even the hardiest cold-weather enthusiast.

But camping for 19 days in February and March, while snowshoeing 70 miles in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area of northern Minnesota – that’s Stoughton native Paul Sveum’s idea of a good time and great adventure.

The 1998 Stoughton High School graduate and a group of four others completed their trek this winter, with each man hauling a 150-pound load on a 14-inch-wide toboggan.

They hiked through “incredibly deep snow” in temperatures that plummeted well below zero, Sveum said in a telephone interview from Cornucopia, where he lives in a tent near the south shore of Lake Superior, some 15 miles from Bayfield.

He said the group got off to a slow start, traveling only about 20 miles in the first week to 10 days.