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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At the end of last month, UW-River Falls Dean of the College of Education Michael Harris and Greenwood Elementary Principal Nate Schurman walked into Mary Linehan's fifth grade phy ed class. Harris read a letter from Stacy Furness of the university's Health and Human Performance Department. She had nominated Linehan for a Pre-Service Mentor Award from the UW-System. Harris and Schurman were there to present Linehan with the actual award. Linehan said she was "very surprised but very honored."
When Jessica Schmitt's husband, Master Sgt. Derrick J. Schmitt, was disabled after his 22 1/2 years serving in the U.S. Air Force, she took an unpaid leave of absence from work to care for him. Derrick had served in the U.S. Air force Security Forces Phoenix Raven Special Operations Forces. While he was struggling with health problems, Jessica said Derrick couldn't be left alone and wasn't able to get Veterans Affairs benefits. So Jessica, a nurse for many years, cared for her husband.
River Falls has a new City Clerk. Amy White was recently hired to fill that position. So far, White said, the new job is great. The best part of working in River Falls, she said, are the people she works with. "They're so welcoming and patient with me in transitioning into my new position," White said.
The City Council voted to eliminate several older portions of the Municipal Code that are now redundant during its regular meeting Tuesday evening, March 14. Those “obsolete” ordinances governed:
A crowed packed the River Falls Public Library's lower level Thursday, March 9. About 185 people had come to listen to a panel of experts at the city's second Tech Talk. The four panelists discussed river ecology. The panelits began by answering a series of set questions, and then the audience members were given 30-40 minutes to ask their own questions.
River Falls is gearing up in green for the city's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration. As St. Paddy's Day falls on a Friday this year, River Falls Chamber of Commerce Event Coordinator Maranda Mahr said she expects the event will be lively. "I think it puts everybody in a good spirit," she said, "and they're able to kick back and enjoy the event." The downtown celebrations start at 1 p.m. with the hunt for the "Pot of Gold" Medallion. First clue is posted at Veterans Park. Subsequent clues are posted every half hour after that until the medallion is found.
Sara Rodolfi had never had a white Christmas until this past year. The River Falls High School senior exchange student from Italy can go skiing and snowboarding in the mountains at home, but the snow doesn't stick around in her home city Guastalla. She said she's had a lot of fun in the snow this year. "I'm not a fan of cold, but snow, it's good," she said. Rodolfi has had fun making snow angels and rolling in the snow with her young host siblings, Wesley and Cece Steiner.
Not everyone feels they can sing. In fact, local resident Katharine Grant said many people feel they can't sing. But Grant says that's not true. "We are all innately able to sing," she said. "If you can talk you can sing. It's kind of like, if you think of birds sitting on a wire, and one bird is singing away and the others go, 'You can't sing.' It would just be kind of ridiculous. Leave it to humans to think of that idea."
David Cronk decided to run for River Falls City Council after a local citizens committee approached and encouraged him to do so. "That piqued my interest," Cronk said. "I went over to City Hall and then talked to Jan Linehan, who at that time was the city administrator's right hand person... Jan sat down and talked to me and gave me the whole lowdown, and all of a sudden I had papers and I was out looking for signatures." Council candidates are required to get a certain number of signatures in their favor before their names are put on the ballot.
Inspired by the upcoming River Falls Roots and Bluegrass Festival, owners of Junior's Bar and Restaurant, 414 S. Main St., have decided to hold their own, smaller festival this Saturday, March 11. They're calling it "Smoke on the Kinni," and according to Cory Hart, one of the bar's owners, it's all about the blues. "We're really excited," Hart said. "Our goal is just to have fun, bring in people from out of town, as well as provide some local entertainment to the town and the community."