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Like they do once or twice every year, retired UW-River Falls agriculture professors Jerry Nolte and Anthony Jilek leave for Nicaragua in January, continuing work and partnerships they started there decades ago. "It's a follow-up visit with the Farmer-to-Farmer program," explained Jilek, adding that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds the FtF program. The overriding mission of both is a mix of cultural exchange and helping impoverished countries establish sustainable development. Partners strive to create long-term quality of life improvements for the natives.
River Falls Municipal Utility General Manager Carl Gaulke remembers the day in 1971 when he got the news he'd be working for the city. "I came in from chopping corn on a Friday afternoon," he said, "and my mom told me the city had called and said, 'If he wants the job, to start Monday.'" The 41-year career that followed included time as office manager, finance director and, for the past 12 years, general manager -- the chief person responsible for making sure that people's lights turn on, their water runs and their toilets flush.
Council member Tom Caflisch gave high marks at the council meeting Tuesday night to a group of UW-River Falls students who, as part of a no-action agenda item, produced a detailed study about the River Falls Shared Ride Taxi Service. He said it was nice to see the students doing a community-focused project in the real world that also helps the city. The students -- Justin Gillis, Gina Redetzke and Tyler Stehr -- presented their findings flanked by professors Juliet Tomkins and Steve DeWald. They explained that the project was completed through business-related experiential learning.
Powerlifter Ray Magnuson of River Falls hoisted his way through a national competition in Mesa, Ariz., Nov. 3, taking away not only the trophy for his weight class but also helping a group of Wisconsin lifters finish first in a team competition. The 71-year-old said he drives his wife of 51 years, Virginia, down to Arizona each winter. This year, he thought he'd pop by the Natural Athlete Strength Association's Master's National powerlifting meet to see how he fared.
Two of River Falls' electric linemen traveled from western Wisconsin first to Pennsylvania then to New Jersey to help restore electricity after Superstorm Sandy pummeled the upper East Coast just before Halloween. Local linemen Tim Wiste and Dan Treichel agreed to "be the ones" to join about 20,000 other out-of-state helpers after the extensive and worse-than-predicted storm damage left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity and other necessities.
Local poet Thomas R. Smith feels a personal connection to the story of the Beatles and, like many, vividly remembers the day of John Lennon's death on Dec. 8, 1980, as he drove home in a blinding snowstorm. The 10-year anniversary of Lennon's death inspired Smith to write a poem, which prompted more Beatles-related writings over the years. He realized the band had been a persistent source of inspiration and began to visualize the different works as a compilation.
Two River Falls men argued as defendants Sept. 13 in the binding Hollywood court of TV's "Judge Joe Brown," after a baseball from the River Falls' team fell through a car's rear window at a July 10 game in Afton, Minn. Youth baseball coach of 10 years Matt Graetz and dad of a player, Carl Brunholzl, appeared together on the "Judge Joe" show Nov. 14. Neither man sought publicity about the case or the trip to California. An anonymous tip to the Journal resulted in a small Web story about their appearance, which led to curiosity and questions...
Most people know the school-bus routine well: The big yellow vehicle stops, kids bound up the stairs and find a seat, then it's off to the next stop within seconds. Mary Waters drives some of River Falls' physically and mentally challenged students to and from school. She attended training Oct. 25 and 26 to gain more expertise about transporting them.
As River Falls prepared to roll its past-due utility accounts into a more urgent state of collection at the City Council meeting Tuesday night, 17 landlords complained by letter or in person about the trash-billing process handled through Veolia. The city switched from Waste Management two years ago, going from monthly billing through the city to quarterly billing through Veolia. Property owner Frances Ogden said the 'new' contract savings aren't worth it. He said tenants tend not to open the bills addressed to "current resident" or may leave during a billing cycle.
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe visited the River Falls Public Library Tuesday, Nov. 20, and spoke to a crowd of about 60 people. He gave a short speech, then took questions from the audience. The NFL player rocketed into the national spotlight after sending -- via online media -- a satirical, extremely critical, and, at times, profanely worded letter to a Maryland legislator.