Elvis at the Senior Center photos

Randy Kiel was on hand at the Oregon Senior Center Friday, Jan. 9, to help celebrate the 80th birthday of Elvis Presley. Kiel kept the crowd clapping and moving during his set of Presley hits. 


Super opportunity

Photo submitted. Long-time Oregon resident Tom Pietras, drummer for the Ryan McGrath Band, performs recently at Whiskey Jack’s in Madison. The blues band is playing at a Super Bowl event next week in Arizona.

When they first met, Tom Pietras was a veteran drummer thinking about resurrecting a music career, while Ryan McGrath was a teenage guitar player thinking about getting one started.

The Oregon residents were part of a new contemporary worship group at Holy Mother of Consolation Catholic Church. Despite a 29-year age difference, they soon bonded on their love of the blues, forming their own band and playing nearly every week.

Five years ago, McGrath went off to college, but last March they reconnected. And after just a few months back together with a new group that plays in the area, the band got that much-hoped-for  big break: They’re the opening act at a Super Bowl week event in Arizona on Jan. 29.


Art Time at the Library photos

The Oregon Public Library held an Art Time! program for toddlers and preschoolers this week. Projects, books and games were inspired by author Eric Carle, who starts paintings for his children’s books using tissue paper and brushes. Another session of the program will be open to all ages from 10-11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 23.


Music Together photos

Eliza Tyksinski hosted a “Music Together” event at the Oregon Public Library Tuesday, Jan. 6. Kids had a chance to play drums, sing and dance along with Tyksinski and their parents. 


‘We work on hearts’

Photo by Seth Jovaag. Rev. Emmanuel Okoye has been chaplain for a decade at Oakhill Correctional Institution. The minimum security prison’s A-frame chapel was built by volunteers in 1965, when the facility was the Wisconsin School for Girls.

For the past decade, Rev. Emmanuel Okoye has served as chaplain of Oakhill Correctional Institute north of Oregon.

From an A-frame chapel at the northeast corner of the 100-acre grounds, Okoye leads church services, organizes religious study groups and counsels prisoners one on one.

The son of a train conductor, Okoye grew up in a Nigerian village before trying his hand in business in Lagos, Africa’s largest city, in his early 20s. But he felt called to be in the ministry.

“When I was growing up … I do have an inclination in my heart that there is something special about my life,” he said.


Aspiring composer’s song draws online attention

Screenshot from YouTube. A clip from a YouTube video of Kathleen Leone singing “The Hanging Tree,” the lyrics of which came from a Suzanne Collins book.

On a lark, she composed a melody, recorded it and put it on YouTube.

In so doing, 16-year-old Kathleen Leone generated a bit of a buzz.

The online video of Leone singing “The Hanging Tree,” the lyrics of which were taken from a song in Suzanne Collins’ book “Mockingjay,” has gotten more than 170,000 hits on YouTube since being posted in late October.

And Mixcraft, the software company whose program Leone used to record the song, had expressed interest in the original song as one of its demo tracks.

It turns out that Mixcraft didn’t use the song because its lyrics are from Collins’ book, and Leone didn’t have time to get permission to use the lyrics before Mixcraft released its latest promotion.


Warm up with a good book

The temperatures are dropping fast – a great excuse to curl up with a warm blanket and a great book. Just in time, the Oregon Public Library's Adult Winter Reading Program is set to begin on Monday.

Participants can read or listen to fiction or non-fiction books, and for each one, they can turn in an entry slip to be eligible to win a winter prize basket, said reference and adult service librarian Susan Kosharek. The program begins Jan. 12 and ends on the first day of spring, March 20. No registration is required.​ 

People have plenty of options, too – they can read a library book, a book from home, or use Overdrive ( to read on their tablet or smartphones. The program is open to readers 18 and older.  

For more information, visit or call 835-3656.


‘It Took a Village’

Photo by Samantha Christian. Lydia Steinberg, a recent cosmetology school graduate, is pictured during her first day of work at Regis Salon at West Towne Mall on Tuesday. Steinberg is also a mother to 2-year-old Darion Johnson, not pictured.

Darion Johnson might never know about the many people who stepped up to help his mom get where she is today. Or how hard she worked to accomplish her goals.

Darion was born Nov. 21, 2012, when his mother, Lydia Steinberg, was a junior in Oregon High School’s OASIS program. The program was designed as a way for students who don’t fit the traditional high school model to attend an alternative program and earn a diploma.

Lydia learned she was pregnant a few months before the end of her sophomore year. The situation caused a temporary rift between Lydia and her parents, and also put her academic future in jeopardy.

But with the help of OASIS teachers and the parent of one of her OASIS classmates, as well as a tremendous amount of determination and perseverance, Lydia graduated from high school in January 2014, enrolled in Madison College’s cosmetology school and graduated from that program Dec. 19.


New Year's Eve 2014 photos

The third annual Community New Year’s Eve Party, featuring music, games, swimming and crafts, was held Dec. 31 at the library, senior center, pool and Netherwood Knoll gym.


Giving back, not giving up

Photos by Samantha Christian. Bashir Nasserjah and his wife Renee Frank watch the deck and wheelchair ramp construction from their patio door on Dec. 19. A group of volunteers from Home Depot and some family and friends helped build the addition so Bashir can more easily go to and from chemotherapy appointments. Shown working on the deck are, from left, Home Depot employee Mark Andert, friend Sean McKinney and Renee’s father Ron Frank.

A new bed, bathroom and deck might seem like lofty wishes on an adult’s Christmas list, but for 59-year-old Bashir Nasserjah, they have become necessities.

The longtime Oregon resident and native of Afghanistan is battling a crippling form of cancer called multiple myeloma. The systemic disease has manifested itself in at least four bone tumors, inflicting excruciating pain while stealing his mobility and energy. 

What were once routine tasks like sleeping, bathing and walking have become difficult and painful since his diagnosis in September. In less than three months, Bashir has gone from being completely independent to using a walker and – though he hates it – a wheelchair to get around. 

His wife, Renee Frank, has become his full-time caregiver at home. The problem is, the house cannot accommodate Bashir’s changing needs on his family’s limited income.