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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Brittany Shermach was home in Osceola on her winter/holiday break from UW-River Falls last January, when she came down with what she and her family thought was a bad cold. It later turned out that Brittany had a form of viral encephalitis. She was in a coma for nine days, and spent months in recovery after that. Now, her family has taken their struggle and put it to music, in an album they're calling "The Awakening." The concept album follows the story of Brittany's illness. It all started, said Brittany's mother, Kate Shermach, when Brittany became sick.
About six years ago, Pierce County Youth Development Agent Frank Ginther was teaching internet safety training for adults and youth development professions, while working with UW Extension and 4-H programs. High school library media center specialist Cheryl Hoffman was a 4-H volunteer. The two decided to start a program to help teach kids internet safety. From their first conversations came the iMentors, a group of high school kids who teach elementary kids about internet safety.
Naked man screaming Joshua Wayne Van Beek, 20, Hammond, was arrested for disorderly conduct at 4:04 a.m. Sept. 23. Police were sent to the 100 block of South Third Street for a report of a naked man running around the area screaming. Van Beek was located pacing in a yard, naked, and yelling "mostly unintelligible" things. He was sweating profusely. Officers suspected VanBeek was experiencing "excited delirium" due to the use of a substance. EMS, and more officers were called.
Lately, people going to Subway downtown at 201 N. Main St. have been stopping to chat with David Markson and Amy Noonan as they work on a new mural. This new mural is across from the existing mural that's on RiverWalk Square, also painted by Markson. The new mural is the vision of the building's owner, Charla Moore Kusilek. It depicts the scene in front of the veterinary practice that used to operate inside the building on which the mural is being painted. "All these stoppers by remember this time period, so it's been a real memory thing for those people," Noonan said.
Most people don't put much thought into getting into their car and driving off to wherever they need to go. Not everyone has that opportunity. "It seems like a simple thing to do," said St. Bridget Deacon Greg Miller. "But to them, it's like giving somebody who lost an arm a brand new arm back." Miller, in his ministry work, often finds people calling in with no transportation.
River Falls will be taking a look at future housing needs soon. The city recently approved a $20,420 contract for a Comprehensive Housing Study and Needs Analysis with Maxfield Research and Consulting, LLC. Of that, the city will pay $13,613 and the River Falls Housing Authority will pay $6,807. The study was included in the 2017 budget. City Development Services Director Amy Peterson said this study will tell the city what its housing needs are and help city employees and elected officials plan for the future. The study will include:
Earlier this month, the City Council approved it's 2017-19 Major Work Plan. That plan, put together by the city administrative office, sets goals for major projects the city will work on during a two-year period. Some items have been carried over from the last major work plan, such as the Kinni Corridor plan, starting work on Glen Park and Hoffman Park improvements, and the Kinni Trail System projects.
Manville (Manny) Kenney, 66, was fair, kind, intelligent, and respectful. "He was a good husband, and a good father, a good community member," said his wife Joanne Kenney. Manny passed away peacefully on Saturday, Sept. 23, surrounded by family. Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, he also lived in Ohio, Utah, California, Arizona, and Minnesota throughout his life.
Greenwood, Westside, Rocky Branch, the Public Montessori Academy and St. Bridget Catholic School all have something new in common, and it's sitting on their school grounds. The Leadership River Falls class of 2016-17 decided to donate benches to each school. Emily Pfannes and Dan Miller were part of that class. "We felt this will have an impact now and into the future," Miller said. "We have been very happy with this project."
Fox Den Used Books owners Heather and James Williams have both been Harry Potter fans for a long time. Heather was working at a Barnes and Noble when "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" came out. She's been a fan of the series ever since. When their son Evan was old enough, James began reading him the Harry Potter books. "Just watching his face as the magic broke like waves over his face," Heather said. "I got all excited and said we've got to do something for the store." She and James ended up hosting what they call "Fox Den School of Magic and Mysteries."