There seems to be a great deal happening these days, both in River Falls and affecting River Falls, so we cherry-picked a few topics and tossed in our two cents worth:
-- Local painter and sign-making guru David Markson continues to redraw the cityscape with his skillful talents. He’s reinventing his famous but faded, painted-over 1998 sesquicentennial mural on the building at Main and Maple streets. As the updated version extends across the outer wall facing north, the two-paneled mural looks bright and bold, adding a burst of eye appeal to that busy corner of downtown.
-- Hurray that a 25 mph speed limit on Paulson Road in Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park all the way to Radio Road was upped not to just 35 mph, as proposed by city staffers, but to 40 mph, thanks to councilmember Scott Morrissette’s suggestion. That stretch of road by Hwy. 35N can easily handle speedier traffic. The higher speed limit is also a reminder of some too-slow marked zones in the city, like the 25 mph snail-paced stretch by Hoffman Park on East Division Street.
-- Last week’s editorial mocked dysfunctional Congress’s government shutdown and said the legislative branch should be collectively fired for dereliction of duty. But there are other government dingbats, like those in Minnesota and Wisconsin, who’ve again failed to restore tax reciprocity for tens of thousands of residents from both states who cross their borders to work. A deal is close, $6 million separating the sides, but no one will step up to be The Closer. Talk about lack of leadership! We tend to place more blame with Minnesota — former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty scrapped the 41-year arrangement in 2009. With many more Wisconsinites crossing into Minnesota to work than vice versa, Minnesota bureaucrats seem less motivated to compromise.
--Journal reporter Gretta Stark this week provides extensive localized coverage of how the start of the Affordable Care Act is being rolled out in this part of the state. The political stakes couldn’t be higher for this new, federally mandated program. If not enough people sign up, find it too complicated or too expensive, Democrats could take a heavy beating in the 2014 state and national elections. But, if Obamacare works, slowly gains in popularity, begins to diminish or even stabilize hospital costs, that would be the Republicans’ — perhaps we should say the Tea Party’s – worst nightmare. Can anyone say President Hillary Clinton?
--Our River Falls School District continues to strive for a creative, robust outreach. Item 1: Last week’s Journal story on the F2S (Farm to School) program about buying apples from an area apple orchard to serve students a healthy fruit for lunch while showing the value to the local economy of buying homegrown or homemade products whenever possible. Item 2: Community Education will soon turn three years old! Many hundreds, mostly older adults, have enrolled and taken classes in this grassroots program that’s driven by feedback — in other words, what people in River Falls want to learn more about. In also means our school buildings, recently upgraded thanks to the 2011 referendum, are being used well beyond the weekday hours when children are in class.