Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.
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The River Falls Journal asked each of the River Falls High School foreign exchange students to share a bit about their experiences thus far in River Falls. Name: Raphael Castro Jardelino da Costa School you're attending this year: River Falls High School Age: 16 Grade: 12 Name of your family back home: Costa Name of your host family: Califf Home city and country: Recife, PE, Brazil How long are you staying in the U.S.? Until July 2 What do you want to do after graduation? Military career or play soccer
River Falls City Council member Chris Gagne expressed concern about the Main Street Business Improvement District (BID) special assessment, and said he'd like to see the BID constituents surveyed to see what they think of the BID assessment being on their tax roll. At the Oct. 9 regular city council meeting, BID board president Jolene Larson spoke about BID's proposed 2019 budget. "We're quite excited, actually that there was actually discussion about the BID recently," said Larson.
Rising Sun Farm has been in Ryan Browne's family since about 1974. Browne's father, Roger Browne, started the farm with Keith Kozub. In the 1990s, the property was split into Rising Sun Farm, operated by Roger Browne, and White Pine Orchard, operated by Kozub. Ryan Browne grew up on Rising Sun Farm, doing chores. "After college, it seemed like a good opportunity to come back here and do this," Browne said. So he moved back to River Falls with wife Lindsey Baris. They started working on the farm in 2012, and bought the business in 2015.
During its regular meeting Monday, Oct. 15, the River Falls School Board heard an update from Superintendent Jamie Benson on the progress of the district's referendum. "We are happy to report things are going well," said School Board President Stacy Johnson Myers after the meeting. Over the summer, the high school tennis courts and parking lots between Greenwood Elementary, the district office and at the bus terminal were resurfaced.
River Falls area residents have been turning the dial to 88.7 and tuning in to WRFW-FM since the station launched in November 1968. UW-River Falls launched the station on a budget of $9,000. Lorin Robinson was the station's founder and the first faculty manager. He said there was an effort made to start a radio station at UWRF in 1966, but the project ran into two problems: budget and finding a space that could hold the station.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, a new academy opened in River Falls: Buckthorn Academy of Magical Arts. "Buckthorn" is the brainchild of Fox Den Used Books owners Heather and James Williams, their son Evan and their staff. "My husband started it," Heather said. "He set the stage and the rest of us on staff ... started fleshing it out. Buckthorn is entirely our original creation, our own fresh new material. Pulling from mythology, local, plants, folklore. "This story became our love song to River Falls."
The Spring Valley School Board received an update on wind damage repairs to Spring Valley Middle-High School at its Oct. 1 regular meeting. Superintendent Don Haack assured the board the school had been made weather-tight. The school was damaged by a storm Sept. 20, and the school for the day Sept. 21 while damage was assessed. The board commended school staff present on keeping those who were at the school calm and safe when the storm hit.
The current River Falls Town Hall is located at the Randall School House, at the intersection of 770th Avenue (Randall Road) and Highway 65. The historic one-room schoolhouse also serves as a polling place for the town. With no internet, no air conditioning, no running water or indoor plumbing, it's not an easy place for poll workers to spend long election days, said Town Zoning Administrator Jerome Rodewald. The town also doesn't currently have an office for Rodewald's zoning administrator position or for the town clerk.
Now that the River Falls City Council has voted to remove the Powell Falls dam by the target date of 2026 and the Junction Falls dam by a target date of 2035-2040, city staff and the Kinni Corridor Committee have been working with HKGi consulting firm to develop a plan for the entire Kinnickinnic River Corridor. The city held a community open house Thursday, Sept. 27 to allow visitors to view preliminary concept plans for what that might look like.
The Journal asked new St. Bridget Parish School staff to introduce themselves to the community by filling out a brief questionnaire. The six responses are recorded below. Brenna O'Connor Position: Middle school reading / language arts teacher Hometown: Welch, Minnesota Education: University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Master's degree in education; Minnesota School of Business, Master's degree in management Prior experience: Faculty member at Broadview University and Globe University/Minnesota School of Business for 15 years