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Coming to America

A Ukrainian family is forging a new life in America’s heartland, working the land together and embracing a vibrant, organic farming philosophy.

Roksolana Viter enjoyed life in her native Ukraine. Living in Kyiv, the fifth largest city in Europe, she worked as an architect, creating modern designs and assuming that was what she would do for the rest of her life.

Then, in 2014 Russia made several incursions into Ukrainian territory, breaking the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and throwing the region into a state of unrest, political turmoil and in some places, violence.

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A Radio Station Where 'Girls' Rule

Female artists are just better than males ones. That’s the way Tom Forrester feels, and that’s the principle on which his independent radio station was founded nearly a decade ago.

“I’ve always appreciated the girl artists,” he says, sitting in the headquarters of Girls Rock Radio, which also happens to be a downstairs room in his Middleton home. “They sound a lot better than their boy counterparts.”

For a small Internet station – in this case one that specializes in the women of rock, pop and alternative music - to stay on the air for nine years is no small feat, especially in what Forrester calls “the harsh, here-today, gone-tomorrow climate facing Internet radio stations today.”

But while it hasn’t always been easy, Forrester says he’s glad he opted out of his former profession and decided to pursue his dream.

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Ghost Deer Meets its End

Middleton Police responded Tuesday, July 14 to a report of a deer killed by a car on Airport Road at Quisling Park. That, in itself, was nothing unusual in a region where deer are ubiquitous. But this was no ordinary buck – it was a rare white deer. These ghostly creatures held special meaning for ancient cultures ranging all the way from Celts to Native Americans. 
Middleton resident Mike Bauerle said he and his 13-year-old daughter, Megan, observed the deer just hours before its demise, spotting it at approximately 5:30 a.m. on the corner of Evergreen and Airport roads. “I had to look twice,” Bauerle stated. “It still had all white felt on its antlers, which really made me look.”
“I was driving, and by the time I could reach for my phone and pull over, it was gone,” he added.
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Ring Finding is a Family Affair

When I asked Dan Roekle how he and his family got started as metal detectors, his answer spoke volumes, “We got hooked on the stories!” 

While on vacation in Florida several years ago, Dan and his son saw some retired fellows walking the beach with metal detectors.  The stories that those men told about their “finds” led the Roekles to purchase a basic detector when they got home.

For the first year, Dan and his two children went to area parks.  While his daughter played on the park equipment, Dan and his son took turns detecting. They felt like it was a good day when they found a quarter.

Then Dan discovered a website by a group called The Ring Finders.  It was created to help people get reconnected to lost wedding or other special rings.

The Ring Finders offers a directory of people who love going out with their detectors to help in those recoveries.  There is a small fee for the service to cover time and gas. 

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Hard Times

Middleton resident Michelle Shamsee is asking the community for support to help get her life back on track after her car was hit by a man who allegedly robbed the BP gas station on University Ave and fled from police in a stolen car.  

According to Middleton Police, the robbery suspect led three officers on a chase through the residential area near Tiedeman’s Pond, just off Gammon Road on May 31.

Shamsee’s car sustained $10,000 in damages and her insurance had lapsed at the time of the incident.  The auto owner’s insurance of the stolen vehicle will not pay anything because damages caused by theft are not covered in their policy.  Shamsee is entitled to restitution but will not likely receive anything from the defendant.

“Getting restitution from a person who isn’t working and is stealing a car is like getting blood from a turnip, it’s not going to happen, and meanwhile I’m still without a car,” Shamsee said.

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Hard Boiled

The air was thick with pesticides and the shouts of children. Adult voices hurdled down from apartment windows. Gang members, merchants, cops, priests and mothers lived side by side, playing out their individual dramas on concrete stages of streets and stoops.

“If I close my eyes and imagine it, there is always a hint of DDT in the air,” recalls Nick Chiarkas, smiling tenderly as he envisions the housing project where he grew up on New York City’s lower east side. “As kids, we would chase the trucks that drove through the city spraying it. Elsewhere people were shouting from windows. Men would urinate in the street, between parked cars, and that was considered okay.”

The children spawned by that bygone era were “alert and resilient,” whether they became cops, criminals or soldiers. (Chiarkas eventually became two of the three.)

They learned to make enough eye contact to seem tough, but not enough to invite a beating.

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Feralcats roam into Middleton

It’s a blustery Sunday evening in rural Mount Vernon, but the howling of the wind is no match for the countrified thump shaking the white stone walls of the “Donkey Hole.”

It’s a quintessential Wisconsin man cave, rigged with tap beer, neon signs, and even a circular tin of popcorn to act as a boisterous fire alarm if things ever get too hot. A place where blown up amplifiers and a bit of healthy tinnitus are all in a good night’s work.

But the barn wasn’t always this way. The place where the Feralcats currently hone their popular brand of honky tonk was formerly used to house burros – hence its name – and it required a thorough mucking in order to begin its transformation.

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The Heroin Blues

Editor's note: In the last couple of years, an unprecedented number of Dane County residents have died from heroin overdoses. Most recently, Middleton High School graduate Kyle Wood, 32, died following a long battle with addiction.

As authorities struggle with how to contain the epidemic, The Middleton Times-Tribune, over the next several months, will publish the first-person accounts of an addict currently in recovery. That addict, Nathan J. Comp, has contributed to the pages of this newspaper as well as several other publications throughout the state, including Isthmus and The Capital Times.

His work has been recognized by several distinguished organizations, including The American Academy of Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatry for a series he wrote in 2004 on drug use among Middleton teens following the death of 16-year-old Julie Zdeblick, who died of an oxycodone overdose that same year.

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Middleton Community Orchestra named 'Musicians of the Year'

The Middleton Community Orchestra (MCO) rang in the New Year by earning an accolade from The Well-Tempered Ear, a popular blog focused on classical music in the Madison area.

Ear founder and writer Jacob Stockinger on Dec. 31 named the MCO “Musicians of the Year.”

Noting the orchestra’s “admirable achievements in only four seasons,” Stockinger went on to laud the group for keeping alive the age-old tradition of amateur music in a local setting.

“I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the stuff they do,” Stockinger told the Times-Tribune. “And with their featured soloists and the shows in general.”

“I think the Middleton Community Orchestra recaptures the integration of arts into our workaday world and daily life,” he added. “They really do a good job.”

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Haunty’s ‘Take a Bow!’ honors philanthropists

When doctors told Marybeth Haunty her son, Alex, wouldn’t ever walk or talk, they forgot to mention fly. They would have been wrong on that count, too.

Haunty, a 22-year-old Middleton entrepreneur, is known locally for his colorful paintings and note cards, hugs, goodwill, and loquacious conversation. But for over a year he had to keep secret his role in the Overture Center’s 10Fest Celebration, held the last weekend in September.

“Sometimes I got so excited that I let the cats out of the bag,” Haunty confessed in the speech he gave at the Overture Center private reception to honor philanthropists Pleasant Rowland and Jerry Frautschi.

The “cats” were that staff had commissioned Haunty to paint a gift of thanks to Rowland and Frautschi on behalf of the greater Madison community, Overture Center spokesperson Robert Chappell said.


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