Local artist MICHELLE ‘MIKE’ OCHONICKY is headed to Washington in a few weeks to take part in the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Ochonicky was selected by Gov. JAY NIXON to design an ornament representing Missouri. The artist recruited Hazelwood West Middle School students to sculpt, paint and assemble the 26 ornaments that will hang from the official Missouri tree. Each features the state’s official bird (bluebird), tree (dogwood) and flower (hawthorn blossom).

    We salute St. Louisan ANDY MEYER, a film and TV producer whose latest project, Tracking Andy, captured this year’s INTERCOM Best of Education-Youth Certificate of Merit Award at the Chicago International Film Festival. Meyer came up with the idea for the TV pilot while working as a flight attendant and discovering the unique attractions of every city he visited. One of his first forays into entertainment came shortly after graduating from Mehlville HS, as host of Grant’s Farm’s elephant and bird show!

    KETC/Channel 9 has transformed itself into a multifaceted public media organization now operating as the NINE NETWORK OF PUBLIC MEDIA. Corp oration for Public Broad casting president/CEO PATRICIA HARRISON was in town for the official rebranding launch of the new venture, which encompasses nineAcademy, ninevoices.org, ninenet.org and four broadcast channels including ninePBS, nineWorld and nineKids.

    THOMAS JEFFERSON SCHOOL has a new head of school: ELIZABETH HOLEKAMP, currently head of lower school at the Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas. She was selected following a yearlong search and succeeds WILLIAM ROWE, who will retire in June 2011.

    If you’re a soap fan, there’s a familiar face to welcome you at Clayton’s new BE SALON AND HAIR RESTORATION. Former The Young and The Restless star LILIBET STERN IKEN, who starred as Jack Abbott’s wife, Patty Williams, has opened shop in the former Hans Weimann building. Iken, who has been a fitness instructor for 30 years and has a background in nursing, recently married local commercial real estate developer JEFFREY IKEN.

    In other Clayton salon news, PRESTON SALON SPA is doing its part to promote breast cancer awareness and research. Through November, the salon is offering pink hair extensions for a $10 donation, with all proceeds to benefit National Breast Cancer Foundation.

    What’s being touted as the largest offering of jigsaw puzzles in the U.S. will officially open in Kirkwood this weekend. PUZZLE WAREHOUSE on Leffingwell Avenue will have more than 10,000 for sale—enough to blanket an entire football field! Stop by during the Oct. 30 grand opening when non-perishable food items will be collected for donation to Circle of Concern.

    Open house…LN wedding columnist and designer/stylist/florist JOHN SULLIVAN is wearing another hat these days: as a real estate representative with Janet McAfee. Sullivan, a longtime partner at Ken Miesner’s Flowers, hopes to use years of design know-how to position homes for quick sale.  

    St. Louis’ own MONETA GROUP has announced plans to open a second location in Chesterfield. The 105-year-old firm (headquartered in Clayton) will open its new office on Swingley Ridge Road in early 2011.