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"It's only an idea now," said River Falls Fire Chief Bob Schwalen. "All we're doing is thinking out loud." Schwalen was responding to questions about the fire department's September meeting minutes, which mentioned a fire hall expansion. The notes said there were plans to talk with an architect soon. Nobody has met yet, but when they do, they'll talk about the concept of expanding the existing fire hall on Second Street. That discussion will be the very early stages of looking into the cost and feasibility of an expansion.
Samantha Bluhm and Christopher Bye were both working separately toward launching their own business. Bluhm used to work for the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Bye used to be director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-River Falls. He did a seminar at the Hudson chamber, and it didn't take long for them to meet, compare notes and say, "Hey, we should pool resources." The two combined talents and have been developing the Navigator Group concept for a year.
Designer Doors in the city's industrial park made its big move last week. The company had bought the 35,000-square foot building that Smead Manufacturing used to occupy before it closed last fall. Designer Doors took that space and converted it into a huge woodshop where workers carve specialty garage doors, shutters and gates out of wood. Next the company added a 5,700-square foot office addition onto the front of the old Smead plant. It lacks a few finishing touches but is almost complete. Staff members officially moved in Friday.
River Falls has a new addition to its list of historical landmarks - the Glen Park Municipal Swimming Pool. At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, all but one council member voted in favor of designating the site. The pool opened in 1937. Historic Preservation Committee members Jeanne Zirbel and Ursula Peterson spoke to the council about the pool's historic significance.
After seeing a lot full of dirt during heavy construction of Veterans Park the past few months, people will see finishing touches over the next few weeks. Workers will install bricks this week to complete the park walkway connecting Main Street to the Kinnickinnic River pedestrian bridge and beyond to the White Pathway. Anyone want the new pathway to permanently preserve a family name? You can do so with the purchase of commemorative bricks. They're $250 apiece, etched and painted. Family names can be engraved.
Ever think about what farmers did before tractors? Members of the Wisconsin Draft Horse and Mule Association do. Twice a year, it even demonstrates how farm work was done before machines. This Saturday the association will hold Draft-Horse Field Day at the Hansons' Century Farm, about a mile and a half east of River Falls on Hwy. 29, from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Event organizers expect about 50 horses and their owners to strut their stuff doing plowing, threshing, discing, corn harvesting and road grading.
Some town and city clerks have been hustling lately to make sure voters are registered the way a new law says they should be. Wisconsin is implementing the new State Voter Registration System (SVRS) required by a law Congress passed in 2002. The law, called Help America Vote Act (HAVA), aims at standardizing voting throughout each state. It's also designed to make the voting process smoother and eliminate voter fraud. The difference for voters is that under the new system, they must have an identification number on file.
"It's a beautiful building and we love it," said Pat McCardle, principal of Greenwood Elementary for the past 11 years and former counselor of 10 years. Built in 1955 Greenwood ranks as River Falls' oldest school and today houses grades kindergarten through 5th. McCardle and many others have been busily preparing for the school's 50th anniversary event, to be held this Sunday from noon to 3:30 p.m. McCardle said an open house is planned.
"I think the impression is that we're a bunch of old ladies in tennis shoes," said Theresa Jonas, volunteer executive director for the Humane Society of Pierce-St.
"This university is a partner for helping shape the area," said new UW-River Falls Chancellor Don Betz. Betz covered a lot of ground when he addressed the crowd during last Wednesday's River Falls Chamber of Commerce business breakfast, which was sponsored by the First National Bank at The West Wind Supper Club. Betz was a provost at Central Oklahoma University before taking the UW chancellor position this past July.