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Michael Kujak may be named a "scholar" before he even graduates from River Falls High School June 4. "It's getting really close," he said about graduation. Kujak received an official letter from the U.S. Department of Education recently, naming him a candidate in the Presidential Scholars Program.
People living in River Falls and Pierce County probably don't often think about tourism. Many of them did though, as the River Falls Chamber of Commerce hosted speakers over breakfast at The West Wind Supper Club two Thursdays ago. Three people shared their insights into area tourism: Sheryl Williams with Pierce County Partners in Tourism (PCPT); Paige Lackey-Olson with Kinni Creek Lodge & Outfitters; and Russ Korpela, former Pierce County economic development director who recently moved to the New Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
A.M Structural Engineering makes a new home out of what used to be a Laundromat at 112 E. Maple Street for 30 years. Firm owner Dave Wagner's been doing local work since August 2002 and starts working from his new downtown office March 17. Wagner began by himself in his basement, then built a space over his garage to use as an office. Now A.M. has three engineers, an intern and a part-time bookkeeper. That over-the-garage space got crowded much more quickly than Wagner thought it would.
High school students in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program raised about $3,000 during this year's philanthropy project, then recently presented a check for half that amount to the River Falls-based Walk On Therapeutic Riding program. FFA conducts a fund drive each year. The goals is to support local programs. Students solicit money and corn from farmers, then donate what they raise.
Health care costs regularly make national and local headlines. It costs too much; there's no end in sight; spending will double within 10 years; more people are uninsured. Sound familiar? Health insurance claims about 10% of an average family's income now and is expected to take keep taking more. Most projections show that cost rising by double digits in coming years. It's not just a national problem or something the legislature deals with at the state capital.
Three Jefferson Street property owners told City Council what they thought at Tuesday night's meeting about designs for a new cul de sac to their road as it closes to South Main Street. Roger Hinkley, Matthew Rust and Ed Schramm own property near the closure site. They talked about available parking and mature trees. Rust owns a duplex that could need as many as six parking spaces and wanted option 2, which saved his driveway but took out two large trees.
Luke Kjelland moved through his workday at Dick's Plus last Tuesday just like he has every other day for the past two years. He can't remember what time it was when he decided to take a break and eat something. He also bought two or three scratch-off lottery tickets to amuse himself during his break. The last one he scratched - a $5 ticket - required three matching amounts to win the cash.
A dozen high school students from River Falls step into the shoes of world leaders at the Model United Nations conference March 9-11 in St. Paul. Delegates from western Wisconsin and all over Minnesota gather and perform the same functions that the real UN does. YMCA sponsors the event in 38 states. Students volunteer to play the role of international diplomats and don't win any prizes for going except increased knowledge. Learning, not competition, is the event's objective. Young people form alliances, debate resolutions and find answers to problems.
Mike Stuttgen of River Falls died at home Saturday night after battling cancer. He had just celebrated his 59th birthday days earlier. Stuttgen didn't like to draw attention, yet those who knew him insist that he did many things worth recognition. He was husband to Pam for 33 years; father to Stacy, Chad and Nicole; and grandfather to Autumn and Adam. Stuttgen also served in Thailand during his years in the U.S. Air Force. According to friends, he nurtured the River Falls Area Ambulance Service to its healthy existence today.
The River Falls Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) will soon start a fundraising campaign aimed at finishing the restoration of the estimated 127-year-old Junction Mill smokestack at 401 Winter St. Many remember the Save Our Smokestack campaign, when HPC sold engraved, commemorative bricks to raise funds for restoring the smokestack. That program raised $7,000, and a walkway leading up to the smokestack features the bricks bearing people's names.