Florida Today


As a freelance writer for Florida Today, a Gannett Company publication, I wrote many community news stories about the Brevard County area while living in Indialantic, FL. This feature story appeared on FLToday.com and in the print edition. 

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Elks supply Creel with dictionaries

MELBOURNE — More than 100 third-grade students now have an abundance of words at their hands with the help of their very own Webster dictionaries and the Melbourne Elks Lodge that donated the books.

It’s a national initiative called The Dictionary Project and aims to give dictionaries to as many third graders as possible.

Charlie Greene of the Melbourne Elks Lodge learned of The Dictionary Project while attending a national Elks convention in California over the summer and decided to bring it to the area

On Nov. 13, the Melbourne Elks Lodge presented Dr. W. F. Creel Elementary School with dictionaries — the first school to receive these donations from the group.

“We certainly appreciate it and certainly the students will appreciate it for a long time,” said Tim Heenan, a third-grade teacher at the school.

One hundred and fifteen students received dictionaries, a donation that costs about $250, Greene said.

Several members of the Elks Lodge hope the donations won’t stop there.

Nancy Miller of the Melbourne Elks Lodge, and the person heading the project’s efforts, said her hope is to present one school a month with dictionaries through donations; later this school year they will be choosing a school in Palm Bay.

Greene and Miller agree The Dictionary Project has a different appeal, giving people a special incentive to help out.

“They know that you’ve done something for youngsters,” Greene said. “Here you see (the donation) from beginning to end. I think that’s what enthuses people, is to see the product.”

Dr. W. F. Creel Elementary School Principal Kathryn Eward said it’s an important donation because while funds exist for purchasing updated textbooks, the same idea doesn’t apply to dictionaries.

“Nowhere is there a process to buy and supply dictionaries,” Edward said, adding that by the third grade, children are expected to spell correctly and expand their vocabulary.

Ed Lietz, a third-grade teacher, said the dictionaries create another platform for teaching reading skills.

“This is phenomenal — it’ll just be another way to strengthen their vocab,” Leitz said. “This needs a lot of notoriety because the kids will just chew this up.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


A Beer a Day is a blog for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I wrote original posts on craft beer and home brewing while interning for the publication during summer 2008. After a redesign of the website, JSOnline.com, the blog is no longer hosted on the site. Below is an example blog post.


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Thirsty … Why wait?

As promised, I hit up the Lakefront Brewery tour yesterday afternoon (along with the other online intern, Beth). Of my experiences at other brew tours (I’ve been on the Leinenkugels tour in Chippewa Falls, the Miller tour and the Sprecher tour), I can definitely say that this one has its unique aspects that would bring me back again … as do all the others.

But, the first thing that stands out about Lakefront, and something that they boast about both on their Web site (scroll down to “tour”) and during the tour, is that you can sample the beer before, during and after the tour. “This is a thirsty tour,” the guide says. It’s a nice anecdote, and definitely a good idea. What else is there to do while waiting for the tour to start, anyway?

The cost of the tour ($6) gives you four tokens, each worth an 8-oz sample, a coupon for a free beer at one of the restaurants listed, and either $2 off in the store or a pint glass. I started out the tour with the Bridge Burner Ale. With 9% alcohol content, the name is fitting. The flavor tastes heavy, but feels very light -an interesting concept, and a phenomenon I’m blaming on the high percentage.

The odd thing, though, is that I couldn’t find any further information about this beer posted on their Web site. Google searches produced reviews by plenty of John and Jane Does. It also seems as if this beer is relatively new to the brewery, but that detail wasn’t mentioned on the tour. Hopefully they’ll get information posted about the beer soon.

The tour guide gave us a sort of “last call,” before the tour was to begin, so I decided to fill ‘er up with something a lot lighter after such a strong beer. The Cattail Ale was a perfect follow up. It had an extremely light body, and was much more enjoyable than most light beers (which usually don’t taste much different than a glass of water). In my book, this Ale was a winner.

Then the tour began. Since it was a Monday, they were actually brewing beer at the time of our visit. This is something I’d never seen before because, well, even beer brewers take the weekend off. The tour guide used a lot of detail describing the process of actually making the beer, throwing in references that home brewers may be able to relate to, and thus bringing the tour to a new level of interesting. This is an advantage to being a microbrewery of their size, I suppose, because the brewery doesn’t have a huge production process in terms of bottling and packaging. Their focus is on the stuff inside the bottle, and the tour shows it.

We were also able to watch one employee as he filled a keg of beer, and then plugged the ‘bunghole,’ with a bunghole plug. Yes, this is what they call it. Take the tour if you don’t believe me. The tour guide then proceeded to ask who had a birthday closest to that day. Mine is coming up in about two weeks, as well as one gentlemen’s, and a woman in the audience had recently had her birthday. All three of us got to go home with our very own bunghole plug.

After the tour, I decided to try out the Riverwest Stein beer, an all malt amber lager. Although it was a little heavy, I really, really liked this one. It had a rich, smooth flavor and I would definitely drink it again.

Lastly, I decided to go with the White beer, which happened to be my beer of the week last week. I wanted to try it on tap to see the flavor difference. Also, the bartender told us this batch turned out with more citrus flavor than normal. Well, in my opinion, they should aim for that more often because this beer was really good. Yes, it was a whole lot of citrus, but that is what I had expected to taste when I bought the six-pack a week ago.

Speaking of my beer of the week, unlike I promised, I did not make it over to the liquor store to find a new, interesting brew. Don’t worry though, that is still high up on my to-do list, and I should have a review of the store coming soon. Instead, I stopped over at Water Street Brewery for some delicious dessert and a thirst-quenching drink.

Lyssa’s Beer of the Week: Beth and I both decided to try out the Raspberry Weiss at Water Street Brewery. If what you wanted to drink was beer, I’m not sure that this is the choice for you. The Web site says they add 200 pounds of fresh raspberries to the brew to get the flavor, and you could tell – but in a really good way. If you’ve ever tried Leinenkugel’s Berry Weiss, this is nothing like that. To me, Berry Weiss has two very distinct flavors: fruit and beer, and they don’t blend together well at all. But, Water Street’s fruity brew was very smooth and very blended, and a perfect compliment to my chocolate pie.

Worth-A-Try scale: (10 – way worth it. 1 – um, don’t bother.) I give it an 8, as long as you’re in the mood for the fruity flavor, and not a strong brew.

Mayo Clinic Health System


Network News is the Corporate Communications newsletter created at Luther Midelfort Hospital campus in Eau Claire, part of the Mayo Clinic Health System. I contributed to the content creation for the newsletter (including writing and photography), as well as layout and editing of the final proof before it went to print.

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