TOPSoccer program offers outlet for children with special needs

Photos by Scott Girard. Leo Schleck, left, and Liam Hedeman kick and push a giant soccer ball toward a set of stacked cones to knock it down. The activity was one of many in the TOPSoccer sessions that involved some sort of soccer equipment but was not completely focused on the game itself.

Most children’s sports programs are too “rigorous” for 6-year-old Keira Hubert, who can’t participate in contact sports.

Hubert was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 1 and also is on the autism spectrum, leaving parents Natasha and Chris always looking for activities for her.

When Keira’s teacher at Brooklyn Elementary School emailed Natasha about a TOPSoccer program a classmate had tried out the previous Sunday, it was a welcome – and nearby – opportunity.

“Keira’s never done anything like sportsy, really,” Natasha told the Observer. “I know there’s some kids that start soccer at 3 years old, and we never did that, so when I heard that, it was an opportunity to kind of get a feel for what soccer was like. I was really excited, and she was, too.”


Elementary art fair returns Saturday

For 15 years, students at Netherwood Knoll and Prairie View elementary schools have had the opportunity to showcase their artistic talents at the annual art fair.

This year’s event continues to encourage kids to utilize those skills outside the confines of the classroom. The public is welcome to peruse the students’ 2D and 3D creations at the fair from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at Prairie View, 300 Soden Dr. 

The fair will also feature a performance show in the Little Theater from 3-3:30 p.m. and various hands-on crafting tables, where kids can make animal masks, scratch-off bookmarks, glass bead magnets, watercolor paintings and other items. A photo booth and concession stand will be open during the fair and kids can get their faces painted by Paint My Face while adults participate in gift basket raffles. 


‘Fun’ start for new Oregon Public Library director

Photo by Scott De Laruelle. Nikki Busch is the Oregon Public Library’s new director, who succeeded Susan Santner after her retirement last month.

Not many librarians’ paths take them through the Himalayan region of Nepal to find their ideal job, but Nikki Busch’s journey is anything but ordinary. 

The new Oregon Public Library director, who succeeded the retiring Susan Santner last month, has loved reading since she was a girl. But even after serving as library volunteer in middle school and a student council representative to the library in high school, the idea of actually becoming a librarian didn’t hit her until later in life.

Those travels that took her to the other side of the world and back. 

“It wasn’t a direct path,” Busch said, sitting in her office Monday. “I probably should have known earlier in life I was destined to become a librarian.”


Dementia-friendly community coalition takes shape in Oregon

Photos by Samantha Christian. Above, Joy Schmidt, dementia care specialist with the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Dane County, gave a “Train the Trainer” presentation to a dozen people that represent Oregon’s government, businesses, churches and schools at Sienna Crest on Jan. 27, as part of the village’s dementia-friendly initiative.

A task force of nearly a dozen people representing the Village of Oregon and Dane County recently made progress on Oregon’s dementia-friendly initiative. 

Delegates from the Village of Oregon, chamber of commerce, businesses, schools, churches, assisted living facilities and the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Dane County (ARDC) joined to form the dementia-friendly community coalition. Its goal is to bring awareness to the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease so people can be more compassionate, supportive and accepting of those with memory loss and their caregivers.

The group met for a “Train the Trainer” session with Joy Schmidt, an ARDC dementia care specialist, on Jan. 27 at Sienna Crest Assisted Living. Schmidt taught the group how to best communicate the initiative with others, and how to train members of organizations and businesses who want to become more accommodating of those with dementia. 


Submit your Groundhog Day snowstorm photos

We want to see your photos of Tuesday's winter storm! So when you're building a snowman or shoveling the driveway, bring a camera along with you and send us your best shots.


Oregon splash pad planning meeting set for Thursday

Building a splash pad in the village has been a topic of interest since last year, and it’s a project that the Oregon-Brooklyn Optimist Club and Oregon Pool intend to turn into a reality.

The community will have an opportunity to contribute to the planning and discussion of the project during an informational meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4 in the community room of the State Bank of Cross Plains, 744 N. Main St.

At the meeting, members of a planning team representing the Optimist Club and pool will give an overview of other splash pads in the area, as well as possible locations for the local splash pad, the cost and timeline of the project and fundraising possibilities.


Photos: Oregon High School Thespian Club performs at the senior center

Members of the Oregon High School Thespian Club visited the senior center Friday, Jan. 22 to perform a series of short plays, including skits from “Bob Ripley’s Believe It or Not” and an abbreviated version of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”


OHS girls basketball Cancer Awareness night returns Jan. 26

In the several years since the Oregon High School girls basketball program began organizing a cancer awareness event, varsity head coach Corey Sielaff said the community’s response has shown how many people are impacted by the disease.

“It hits home for a lot of people,” Sielaff said. “The girls take it very seriously and the community takes it very seriously, and I think that just speaks for itself.”

The Panthers will host this season’s Cancer Awareness Night during the freshman, junior varsity and varsity games against Madison Edgewood High School on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at Oregon High School. The freshman and JV games begin at 5:50 p.m. (freshmen will play in the OHS fieldhouse, with JV in the main gym), and varsity will begin play at 7:30 p.m.


Local mother-daughter duo publishes cow book for kids

Photos submitted. Ruth McNair wrote the children’s book “Which Moo Are You?” about a day in the life of dairy calves, which was illustrated by her 22-year-old daughter, Molly McNair. The two are pictured with some dairy heifers at their farm, located in the Brooklyn/Belleville area.

The McNairs of rural Oregon are no strangers to clever wordplay.

Ruth and Joel McNair started a family-owned company, No Bull Press LLC, in 2000, which publishes a magazine called Graze. And this month, Ruth and her daughter, Molly, released the company’s first children’s picture book, “Which Moo Are You?”

If it isn’t already clear, they live on a farm – one that has been visited by many different hooves, paws and feet since 1991. 

The family used to raise Highland cattle (which Ruth describes as the “shaggy ones with the big horns”), sheep, chickens, rabbits, donkeys, goats, pigs, cats and a llama. Now that their kids are out of 4-H, the McNairs just have their loyal dog, Rags – who has reluctantly retired from herding – and other farmers’ dairy heifers during grazing season.

“In some ways we miss (the other animals), but we do have a little more freedom now,” Ruth said. 


Oregon Public Library winter reading program runs through March 12

With the temperatures dropping and the Packers out of the playoff race, January is as good a time as any to crack open a good book. 

And the Oregon Public Library is ready to help, offering a winter reading program for teens and adults that started last week and runs through March 12. Oregon Public Library youth services librarian Kelly Allen said a teen portion was added this year to the library’s annual winter reading programs. No registration is required. 

To participate, people ages 12 and older can read or listen to a book of their choice. For each book read, people can turn in an entry slip to be eligible to win one of two grand prizes: a Kindle Fire or stress relief coloring book gift set. Entry slips can be found at the library or online at


Comment Here