Meredith Holt is a features/business reporter for The Forum who covers topics in health, mental health, social issues, women's issues, arts and entertainment, food and more. She also writes a column on health and wellness, body image and media representation. She was a copy editor/page designer for six years prior to joining the features team in March 2012.
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FARGO — Nicole Watkins was a little skeptical about getting a service dog for her autistic son. After all, he didn't really like dogs. But she agreed when Karen Pitsenbarger, a "puppy raiser" for Canine Companions for Independence, offered to do a "trial visit" with the dog she was training at the time, Nora.
MOORHEAD — Karen Pitsenbarger has had Tosca since she was a puppy. The sleek black Lab, who's training to be a Canine Companions for Independence service dog, has grown up and learned 30 basic commands under the Moorhead woman's careful supervision. Wherever Pitsenbarger goes, Tosca goes with. But in just a few months, they'll have to say goodbye. Pitsenbarger is a volunteer "puppy raiser" for the organization, which provides well-trained service dogs to qualifying applicants free of charge.
HORACE, N.D. — College friends Bjorn Solberg and Nick Wiens are returning to their farm-life roots with their new business, Ewetopian Farms, based on Solberg's family's land here, just five miles south of Fargo. "I'd been looking for some land to try to do some farming on for a while, and he (Solberg) talked to me and said, 'Hey, my parents want to put our land to use,' so it worked out perfectly," said Wiens, who's originally from Billings, Mont.
FARGO — Retired physician and health care executive Dr. Roger Gilbertson was presented with the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce's 2016 Legacy Leader award at its annual meeting over the noon hour Thursday, Sept. 22, at the Ramada Plaza & Suites here. Gilbertson was the president and CEO of MeritCare Health System for 17 years, steering the organization through its merger with Sanford Health. He's also been a longtime leader in economic growth and development.
FARGO — Dr. Mark Blaufuss, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Sanford Health, explained Grace Henderson's diagnosis on a chalkboard. "Well, I know exactly what's wrong with your daughter, and I don't need to do any further tests," he told her parents, Todd and Maggy Henderson. He wrote "IBD" for inflammatory bowel disease in chalk, drawing two lines — one to "Crohn's" and one to "colitis." "Grace doesn't have colitis," he said, drawing a big "X" over the word. "She has Crohn's."
MOORHEAD — When Ciara Stockeland was a little girl, she convinced her little sister to sell rocks to their neighbors. (Their mother made them return their neighbors' money.) When she was a preteen, she started a theater company for home-schooled kids. Now she's the founder and chief operating officer of MODE, a women's discount designer clothing boutique. Stockeland, who lives in Grand Forks, oversees the 10 MODE locations across the Midwest and in South Carolina. The third-generation entrepreneur shared her success story and advice for reaching business goals in her recent business training presentation, "A Little Coffee and a Lot of Hustle," hosted by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.
With the exception of my "Stranger Things" binge, I've been watching nothing but old seasons of "Project Runway." I was a faithful viewer for years while I had Dish but lost track of it until this summer, when an unexpected TV guest spot by Tim Gunn reminded me how much I enjoy it. Gunn, the show's mentor, has long been a beloved icon for me. I love everything about him — I love his impeccable style, his stern looks, his brutal honesty and his tender heart. I respect and admire his work as an author, educator and co-host. So anytime he pops up in my news feed, I'll click on the link. I was even more interested when I learned why he was trending.
FARGO – When the LineBenders improv comedy troupe lost its downtown home with the closure of Studio 222, a member jokingly said, “Why don’t we just go to people’s houses to perform?” The idea stuck. To celebrate their 15th year, the LineBenders are doing free hourlong shows in fans’ homes every Friday night in September. The response to “The Living Room Series” was so positive, J.J. Gordon, LineBenders owner and artistic director, says they’re considering extending its run.
FARGO — It's Friday night. Tim Larson, Jacob Hartje and Dave Brunsvold are gathered in Larson's "Garage Theater," thoughtfully pacing around each other while they play a game of word association. "Rum." "Pirates." They pick up the pace. "Sea." "Ocean." "Dolphins." The longtime friends are warming up for a session of long-form improv in preparation for their first performance as Deep Dish Improv. The idea came about through a string of "Hey, what if?" texts.
FARGO — An indulgent Fargo-Moorhead staple is now available in a vegan-approved version. After receiving customer requests and experimenting with recipes, Sandy's Donuts has begun offering vegan doughnuts once a week, on Mondays (Tuesday, Sept. 6, this week, because of the Labor Day holiday), to gauge interest.