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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Ken Phillips was sitting down, watching "America's Got Talent" the evening of June 20, when he heard someone pounding on his door. When he answered it, he found his new neighbor's young daughter asking for his help. There was a fire. He told the girl and her mom to get out of the building. "I'll go in, do what I gotta do and put it out," he said. The fire had started in a pan of chicken the neighbor had been frying on the stove.
Last year, local band Triad reunited after 32 years for a special River Falls Days gig. This year, they were back. "We had so much fun and such a great response from the Triad groupies last year, we decided to do another performance again this year," band member Tom Pechacek said. "A month or so before the event, we started kicking around the idea to raise money for the local food shelf and how it could be done." The plan really took off when Pechacek got a call from his cousin Jeannie Aws.
The River Falls School District is always taking applications for STEP workers, but the busiest time of year for those applications is August and September. School district Director of Community Education and Communications Monique Squire said the program has undergone some changes in recent years. The STEP program originally stood for Senior Tax Exchange Program. Seniors volunteered for the district, and were given as compensation, a check to put against their property taxes. Consequently, when the program began, all volunteers needed to be at least 62 and homeowners.
From city streets to the municipal power plant, River Falls residents have seen a lot of construction lately. Many projects are just wrapping up, getting started, in the works, or ongoing in River Falls about now, including chip sealing on local streets, construction on two new sections of the Kinni Trail System, work on the city's new municipal electric substation, and plans for updates to Glen Park. Chip sealing
Drewiske means "Son of the woods," says Dave Drewiske, new interim executive director for the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust (KRLT). "I'm really true to my name," he said. He likes hunting and fishing. He became interested in waterways and land management at an early age. "It's been a passion that was instilled in me by my dad when I was a little guy," Drewiske said. "He was the county agent in Pierce County." Drewiske would ride along with his father and learn about things such as soil conservation.
A new kind of bar has been popping up around town lately. It doesn't serve alcohol. Instead the "Water Bar" is a water awareness effort, presented by the UW-River Falls Sustainability Fellows. The Water Bar has been seen at events around town, such as the UWRF Chill on the Hill Concert Series where it recently set up on July 25. At the water bar, people get a chance to try three samples of water and compare them.
Danielle Miller, 17, liked the idea of going on an exchange trip, but wasn't sure if she wanted to commit to a year-long exchange. "Then I found out about the (Short Term Exchange Program) that they were just starting this year," she said, "so I just wanted to try the short term." Through STEP, run by Rotary, Miller went to Mexico for a week and stayed with 17-year-old Sara Estrada's family, parents Gabriela and Leo, plus brothers Jorge and Carlos.
In May, the City Council voted to allow the city administrator and city attorney to call St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity's loan for the Eco Village project on Apollo Road in the west part of town. Since then, city staff and Habitat board members have been working together to reach an agreement. On July 11, City Council approved an agreement with SCVHH. City and Habitat representatives have signed a forbearance agreement. If the terms of that are met, a loan modification and extension agreement will come into effect.
There was a lot of dam discussion at St. Bridget Church last Thursday, July 20. About 175 people filled the church's fellowship hall gathering space for the Kinni Corridor Project's fifth Tech Talk, "Dam Removal Alternatives." After an open-house-style poster session, the event included a panel discussion with Cheryl Laatsch, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission statewide coordinator for the Wisconsin DNR; Ismael Martinez, president of IMO consulting; and Marty Melchior, regional director of Inter-Fluve, Inc. The panel was moderated by Mark Lobermeier, of SEH.
The Rev. David Almlie was not looking for a new job when Mark Hall contacted him to see if he'd be interested in the position of visitation pastor at Ezekiel Lutheran Church. "I was really enjoying retirement," Almlie said. "But I did share with (Hall) that I've always enjoyed in my ministry, getting to opportunity to go and visit people in their times of need or their times of sickness or if they're shut-ins. It is alway such a privilege to be able to be welcomed into people's place of residence and to minister to them and hear their life stories."