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Finding his own way


Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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Young autistic man lands new jobBy Carol ThouinMonday, October 23, 2000

October is most notably known as the month little goblins scramble door to door begging for something sweet. While it may not be as widely known, the President of the United States has also deemed October as National Disability Employment Awareness month – a time committed to educating people, agencies and employers about the potential of hiring people with disabilities. But it wasn’t a date on a calendar or a national declaration that prompted one Spring Valley businessman to open the door of opportunity for a young man with autism.

Meet Chris Liebold, 20, of Spring Valley. For nearly four months, Chris has been employed by Don Lanning, proprietor of Don’s IGA, the local grocery store. Some may take such an opportunity for granted. Not Chris and mom, Janet Vreeman, who was thrilled to learn that her son was offered a job at the store.

"I think it’s wonderful for employers to hire people with disabilities," Janet said. "We’re happy that we can keep him in town with us," she said. But, the journey to employment has been a long one for Chris and his family.

His mother diagnosed him with autism, ironically, in the early 80s. "We knew something wasn’t right when Chris was very young," said Janet. Her first-born didn’t communicate in a typical fashion. After scores of tests at the Mayo Clinic, a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder was offered up along with a prescription for Ritalin, according to Janet.

"As soon as I’d give him a pill, he’d just spit it right out," she said. It wasn’t until watching television drama St. Elsewhere that the pieces began falling into place. It was an episode that would change her life. The program depicted a young child who was Autistic. He didn’t speak, but communicated by waving his hand in the direction of what he wanted. It was a very familiar scenario in the Liebold home.

"When Chris wanted a drink of water, he’d wave his hand by the cupboard until I’d figure out what he wanted," Janet recalled.

Trying to anticipate Chris’s wants and needs took extra time and effort. "We just lived with it for a long time," said Janet. An official at school suggested Chris undergo further testing at Gunderson Clinic in LaCrosse. Janet remembers that day vividly. "The doctor asked me what I thought was wrong with Chris and I said ‘he’s autistic’," she said. The doctor confirmed her diagno .....
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Analysis paralysis

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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Will someone please make a decision?By Mike McGrath
Monday, October 23, 2000

Last Tuesday, the Fillmore County Board of Commissioners spent yet another lengthy session reviewing more details about the informal agreeme ..... 
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Bergey Family Farms reach "turning point"

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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$8 hogs inspire new ventureBy Wayne PikeMonday, October 16, 2000

Jerry and Jodi Bergey of rural Lanesboro have been farming long enough to have seen lots of changes in the pork industry. Jerry grew up on the farm that he ..... 
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Candidate forum:

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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State Representative District 31BBy Al MathisonMonday, October 23, 2000

This year’s race for Minnesota State Representative for District 31B is between incumbent Greg Davids (R) and Al Hein (D). Davids was first elected t ..... 
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A Harry Potter party

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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Monday, October 23, 2000

Harry Potter has worked magic in Fillmore County, enticing both children and adults to become passionate readers. And I, too, have become a Harry Potter fan. In fact, as each new book was released I had to bargain with ..... 
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Journey back to childhood

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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By David ParkerMonday, October 23, 2000

By now, everyone has probably heard of the Harry Potter books written by J.K. Rowlings. These books are classified as children’s books. Consequently, many older people who would enjoy reading them have ..... 
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This work is not for the birds

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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Monday, September 4, 2000

I stand on the roof of our workshop holding the end of a rope. My husband has tied the opposite end around his waist so he doesn't slip as he hammers nails into our new metal roofing. Although I am alert to the danger ..... 
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Just a Juicy Little Tidbit

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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Monday, October 16, 2000

"What’s this?" One of the two teenaged boys impatiently thrusts an open plastic margarine tub in my face. "We found it out in the woods just lying on the ground coming back from our tree stands." At the bottom of their ..... 
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Recently released Minnesota books

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
Posted in

Monday, October 16, 2000

Last month I attended the annual convention of the Upper Midwest Bookseller Association in downtown St. Paul, a gathering of authors, publishers and independent booksellers.

I was impressed, as I was last year, ..... 
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