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 American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the River Falls Optimists Club hosted a River Falls City Council candidate forum last week, which was moderated by Rita Kozak Monday, March 12. The forum included two mayoral candidates: incumbent Dan Toland and Aaron Taylor; four candidates for two alderperson-at-large positions: incumbent Jeff Bjork, incumbent Scott Morrissette, Judie Foster-Babcock, and Michael Page; and two candidates for district four alderperson: incumbent Todd Bjerstedt, and Ben Plunkett. Opening statements
Wednesday, March 14, an estimated 100 or more students stood in a semicircle around the flagpole at River Falls High School. Some students shivered or shifted their weight from foot to foot in the chilly weather. But the students' silence from 10-10:17 a.m. was broken only by the sound of passing cars and the reading of a name once every minute. For each of the 17 minutes of the walkout, the name of one of the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting was read. Though they were silent during the walkout, several students had a lot to say afterward.
The River Falls American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the River Falls Optimists Club organized two candidate forums last week, one of which was moderated by Mike Norman and held Thursday, March 15 where school board candidates were invited to answer questions from the public. Candidates Todd Andrews, Cindy Holbrook, Mike Miller, Mike Thompson, and Alan Tuchtenhagen were present at the forum. Kellen Wells-Mangold could not attend, but offered a prepared statement that was printed and available for those attending the forum.
UW-River Falls Prof. Kevyn Juneau is a new professor. He's in his second year at UWRF, and has been looking for different opportunities for his students. He wants his students involved in class projects, as well as developing a sense of place. Juneau was at a public meeting, chatting with some folks there, and ended up talking about possibly doing a semester-long land management project with his students on land owned by the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust (KRLT).
River Falls Celebrated St. Patrick's Day Saturday, March 17, with its annual potato soup crawl, medallion hunt, bed races and more.
Nancy Foley, a member of a River Falls Wednesday night bowling league, first heard of "The Power of 100 Women" from another bowler. "She went on and explained what she knew about Power of 100 Women, and it just stuck with me," Foley said. "I kinda had goosebumps ... when she was telling me about it." The Power of 100 Women is a name given to groups of 100 women who organize, meet usually two to four times a year, and support local nonprofits.
The River Falls community has high expectations of the school district, said Superintendent Jamie Benson. To meet those expectations, the district needs to invest in the district's facilities. "Our community has a long tradition of supporting our school district, and we know that in order for us to continue to receive that kind of support we, with this referendum, need again to be very transparent and honest about what the needs are," Benson said. The district has added a referendum to the April ballot to address the district's needs. The plan
An estimated 100 or more students participated in a student-led walkout Wednesday, March 14, at River Falls High School. The local walkout was one of many walkouts held around the nation in response to the Parkland, Florida school shooting on Feb. 14. Several students held up hand-written signs that said things like, "Am I next?" and "Your silence is killing us." Junior Marie Domeyer, 16, said she joined the walkout, because "all lives matter."
River Falls High School senior Emma Vik was 12 when the Sandy Hook school shooting happened. She's heard reports of many other shootings since then, most recently the Parkland, Florida, massacre. She said she'd started to feel more unsafe walking into school. At a recent pep fest, she and some other girls were startled by popping balloons and thought they were gunshots.
The Spring Valley School Board has set two listening sessions for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14 and Thursday, March 15 at Spring Valley Elementary School. The listening sessions are aimed at gathering community members' opinions on the direction they'd like the district to take with the aging elementary school building. "We will have representatives from Market Johnson and SDS Architects there to answer questions," said District Superintendent Don Haack. "They've been doing the facility analysis and they can give more in depth responses to questions about the present facility."