In March, when Abigail Bierman correctly spelled a word to come within shouting distance of winning the Telegraph Herald Regional Spelling Bee, she did a quick little jump on her way back to her seat.

There, on stage in the Loras College ballroom, Abigail knew she had nailed a tough word. She rewarded herself with just a bit of a happy dance.

I love this kiddo. Abigail took her wide smile, her happy dance and her incredible brain to the Scripps National Spelling Bee last week, and she did our region proud.

Abigail correctly spelled pekoe and then heresy on the Scripps stage in front of a vast audience and 500 very brainy peers.

While she didn’t advance to the finals — only 50 of those who spelled two words correctly and scored in the top tier of the written test did — Abigail was in good spirits. “I feel great,” she said Wednesday evening. “I feel really proud to be here with my family.”

We’re proud of you, too, Abigail, as is your entire community. Back home in Preston, well, Abigail has been treated like a hometown hero. The good folks of Jackson County were thrilled to see a local girl on the national stage.

Abigail told our reporter she was happy to be there, “Just because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Maybe. Maybe not.

Because she’s a sixth-grader, Abigail has two more chances to compete for a chance to go to the national bee. For now, she can relax — maybe with a nice cup of pekoe. (You knew that was a kind of tea, right?)

Congrats, Abigail!


If you know hard-working millennials, we’ve got a great opportunity to give them the recognition they deserve: Nominate them for a Rising Star Award.

Begun in 2003, and presented by, our Rising Star Award is given to outstanding young leaders. The award, presented at a recognition breakfast in September, highlights people younger than 40 who are the up-and-comers in their fields and are giving back to the community.

Here’s who should be nominated: Any tri-state person younger than 40 who demonstrates leadership in the workplace, serves as a role model and is an active volunteer.

The nominee could be someone you work with, someone you know from your place of worship or a coach or volunteer you

encounter. (Yes, you can even nominate yourself.)

The Rising Star Award is one way to recognize that the future is bright with the hard work and unique talents of the generation coming up.

If the young people in your business are anything like the

young people in mine, take a moment to salute the work they do and the positive contribution they make by nominating a Rising Star at

Nominations must be received by Saturday, June 15.


I hope you didn’t miss the spring/summer edition of Vacationland, which published on Mother’s Day, because it’s chock-full of great ideas for things to do this summer in the tri-states.

But even if you don’t have it handy, you can check it out online at

Whether your summer plans are likely to include visits to festivals, historic sites, parks or trails, we’ve got a listing for that.

We can give you the rundown on area farmers markets and the best place to get a local brew or coffee, and offer some suggestions for family activities.

Jim Swenson works hard on this section every year, and he’s put together a robust guide to summer in the tri-states. It’s worth checking out.

Email Gilligan at

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