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A few comments from past River Falls visitors

Wisconsin Nice

Renee Hood, Owatonna, Minn. (parent of UWRF student)

Having lived in Minnesota for the last 16 years I have often heard the term Minnesota nice. Recently my daughter, a student at UWRF became ill.

As she had started doctoring in River Falls prior to school starting and was due to have test the next day we were forced to drive in the middle of the night from Owatonna Minnesota to River Falls and ending up in the Emergency room with her for treatment.

Leaving in hurry and my husband out of town I put our 85 pound Labrador retriever in the truck as well. We spent the night in the emergency room and she was admitted the next day requiring surgery. All the staff at your medical facilities were amazing -the emergency room nurse finding me a chair to sleep in, her Dr. coming to see her on his day off -the coffee shop lady and the nurses who cared for her after her surgery just to mention a few.

In need of a place for my dog-the nurse helped me find a groomer in the phone book-I explained my situation and asked if she could groom him and maybe stay for awhile-her response was she did not have time to groom but he was welcome to come and stay until 4:30 that afternoon and with no charge. On the UWRF staff and their commitment to students succeeding: Once we learned of her surgery and the amount of time she may be out I went to the registrar's office and explained the situation. They gave me many options and people to speak with as well as a special pass to park to that day to make things easier. The academic success center was extremely helpful as well including a personal phone call that same day from women who said she would help in any way she can.

I can't express enough my sincere thanks to all of you who helped my family out in a very stressful situation-Minnesota Nice has got nothing on River Falls Wisconsin Nice.

River Falls' finest restores my faith in mankind

Josh Bacskai, Madison

(published in the River Falls Journal, March 13, 2009)

My family and I were headed from Madison to St. Paul on a Friday night. We were 45 minutes outside of St. Paul when the radiator blew. We had to exit at Hwy. 35 heading south toward River Falls.

I pulled off onto a small county road. Almost immediately a nice woman named Cindy pulled next to us and asked if she could help. She led us to the nearest gas station so I could shut my car off.

When we parked at the gas station I got out to thank her for her kindness. At that time she informed me that her neighbor, Tony Olson, (also a mechanic) was on his way to help!

Within minutes Tony arrived in his van. He informed me my car was no longer drivable. We contemplated renting a car or getting a hotel room.

Then Tony offered to load up my family (myself, wife, two-year-old daughter, mother, and her dog!) and all of our gear into his van and drive us to St. Paul!

I was skeptical of this type of generosity but realized this was the best option. When we arrived in St. Paul, Tony asked for my car key so he could stop on his way back home and try to start it.

I gave him my key. We exchanged phone numbers and called it a night.

Tony called me the next morning and told me he already had the parts to fix my car and would do so for a minimal charge.

My family was able to enjoy the weekend in "The Cities" while Tony fixed my car. The community of River Falls should consider itself privileged to have such fine citizens as Tony and Cindy.

My faith in mankind is restored!

Gerald Ensley, columnist with the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat, penned these observations after a two-week visit to his in-laws, Austie and Vera Petersen of River Falls

"...We've gone there almost every Christmas and/or summer for 22 years, and it's still beguiling.

River Falls is in western Wisconsin, on the banks of the Kinnickinnic River, about 30 miles east of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

It's a small town -- 12,000 people -- but it has one of the branch campuses of the University of Wisconsin. Between the university and its proximity to "The Cities," as they call them, River Falls is no sleepy burg.

The Kansas City Chiefs football team trains there in the summer.(Concluded in 20090

Garrison Keillor lived there for a few years.

It's the hometown of Olympic gold-medal hockey player Karyn Bye Dietz and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Frankie Rayder.

River Falls has a thriving several-blocks-long downtown along the river. There are numerous bars, a half-dozen coffee cafes and a good bicycle shop.

Lund's Hardware and Freeman Drug Store still have a steady clientele.

Most everyone lives within walking distance of downtown, along tree-shaded streets lined with sidewalks. The houses have back alleys for utility lines and garbage cans. It keeps the streets so neat you wonder: "Why don't all cities do that?"

I have routines in River Falls.

In the pre-dawn, I walk the dog, joining a parade of people doing the same in a town where everyone has pets. Then I make coffee and read the newspaper in the half-light of the world's coziest kitchen.

I play golf at the half-dozen courses within 20 miles, make endless trips to bright and cheery EconoFoods and play trivia at Bo's 'N Mine, my favorite tavern.

I ride Austie's bike around town in the afternoons and jog in the evenings around the college campus.

On Fridays, we go to the Moose Lodge for the fish fry.

Some days, Sally and her parents go to lunch at the Senior Center. Other days, we eat at Perkins Restaurant, where everybody knows everybody.

Every Christmas Eve and many Sundays, we join Austie at St. Bridget Catholic Church. Father Gerald Harris is down-to-earth and humorous and doesn't try to sell religion as a miracle cure.

This summer, he explained prayer is simply about establishing a relationship with God.

"We think prayer should bring us something big, like a sign or money or a change in our lives. It doesn't happen that way -- though it makes for better preaching when it does."

In the summer, River Falls is a riot of color: Emerald-green grass framed by the thousands of flowers that summer-starved Wisconsinites plant in every patch and pot around their homes.

In the winter, River Falls is very, very cold -- but exciting.

Last Christmas Eve, the dog and I walked in a blizzard through downtown and along the river, both of us howling in glee at being inside a real-life snow globe. That night, when we went to Mass, the snow stopped and there was a full moon.

Christmas truly came upon a midnight clear..."

"...Sometimes the places you only visit become so important -- that summer lake cottage, your grandmother's house -- briefly known places that weld themselves to your soul. River Falls is that place for me.

I could still visit once Austie and Vera are gone. But it wouldn't be the same.

So hang in there, you two. I'm not ready to say goodbye.

Paul & Hjordy Wagner are the authors of 'Ready or Not...They're Gay'

-- May, 2009

'...What a day in River Falls, Wis. Paul, Brad and I met so many wonderful people who readily shared their stories with us. Paul and I did our first official presentation regarding our book, Ready or Not...They're Gay.

I surprised myself when emotions overcame me a couple of times. Our audience was awesome. We were able to speak with most of the people who attended following our talk.

At the Public Library that evening we saw talented people from UW-River Falls along with River Falls community members perform a variety of venues. Every single performance was outstanding. We felt privileged to be a part of Unity in Community.

Our hats off to River Falls for providing a well planned day to celebrate diversity in their community. Look at our photos of the River Falls event on our Ready or Not Facebook Fan Page.