Meet The Observer Staff

Penny Wiegert

Penny Wiegert

Observer employee since 1986

Penny has been on staff at The Observer since 1986 and editor since 2002. She and her husband Russell have four grown children. She is an active member of St. Mary Parish in Pecatonica where she is a lector and Eucharistic Minister.

Penny is an active member of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association and is Past President of the Catholic Press Association for the United States and Canada. In her spare time, she and her entire family enjoy participating in community theatre.

The Observer provides Penny with the opportunity to enjoy two passions ... the Catholic faith and newspapering.


Amanda Hudson

News editor,
Observer employee since 1993

Amanda came to The Observer from the communications department at an insurance company. She has a master’s degree from NIU in communications studies.

She is a member at Holy Family Parish in Rockford.

Amanda is a lay member of the Discalced Carmelite Order (OCDS) and belongs to a community that meets in Rockford.


 Sharon Boehlefeld
Features and
Multimedia Editor

Sharon Boehlefeld

Features and Multimedia Editor,
Observer employee 1988-99 and since 2006

Sharon has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in sociology from Northern Illinois University, with additional graduate work in sociology at the University of Wisconsin. While in grad school, she helped conduct reader surveys for The Observer. She has taught journalism, English composition and sociology at various colleges and universities in Illinois and Wisconsin.  

She worked part-time at The Observer for about 11 years while her children were small, left to work full time at a daily for several years but is happy to be back at The Observer. She especially likes her multimedia and social media tasks on Facebook, You Tube, Pinterest and Twitter. She also maintains the Observer Book Club and The Observer Destinations blogs.

She and her late husband Chris have five children and four grandchildren.

The family has belonged to St. Mary/St. Patrick Parish in Durand/Irish Grove for more than 30 years, where she has helped with religious education and meal ministry.
She is active in the Catholic Press Association, where she has served on committees and made conference presentations, and the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association, where she is a past-president and continues to serve on the board.


Megan Peterson

Observer employee since 2021



Jill Bonk

Accounting and Data Processing
Observer employee since 2002

In addition to her work for The Observer, Jill works with Hispanic Ministry as accountant and business manager.

She has two college age children.
They attend St. Mary/St. Patrick Parish in Durand/Irish Grove.

 Gary Haughton
Production Mgr.
Web Administrator

Gary Haughton

Production Manager, Web Administrator
Observer employee since 1997

Gary has been involved in newspaper production all of his adult life.

He is co-owner of a small weekly newspaper and also owns and operates a small printing company.

A life-long resident of Durand, he is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church. He has been involved in local politics and since 2005 has held the office of Durand Village President. He also held the office of Village Trustee for four terms (1983-1999).

He has three grown children, four grandchildren and a great-grand daughter.

He’s an avid Bears and Cubs fan, enjoys Nascar racing and collects Coca-Cola memorabilia. He also enjoys photography, but admits that his busy schedule does not allow for as much camera time as he would like.

During the summer months he spends much of his free time driving his 1966 Chevelle SS-396 to car shows, cruise nights and day trips. He has owned the classic muscle car since 1971 and restored it to near original condition in 2008. He is a member of the Gentlemen Car Club, Loves Park.