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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It's been a busy summer of construction at the Spring Valley Middle/High School. The Spring Valley Board of Education heard construction updates Monday, Aug. 21 on the status of the summer facility projects during its regular meeting. "We're running behind schedule in most of the areas," Superintendent Dr. Donald Haack said. "We'll have it ready by the time kids get in, but we'd hoped to have it pretty well wrapped up by now, and it's going to take the next couple weeks." Haack said that weather has been a factor in delaying work.
Those driving on Main Street past Cascade Avenue in River Falls this weekend may have seen a group of people holding brightly colored signs, rainbow-colored "peace" flags, and more. The group "Rise Up Western Wisconsin" organized a "Rise Up Against Hate" demonstration from 2-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Aug. 19 and 20. The demonstrators' goal was to support unity and diversity in the River Falls community and the country, to provide a reminder that hate groups could operate anywhere, in the aftermath of the recent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Clarke Garry, UW-River Falls professor emeritus of biology, had been writing a column for Fly Fishing magazine for years. When the editor/publisher died, the magazine died with him. But Garry's urge to keep writing lived on. So he kept writing essays. "At some point, I thought, you know... I could put these together into a compilation," Garry said. That compliation grew into a book Garry called "In the Kinnickinnic, Stories of a River and Its Insect Life." "It sort of evolved more than anything," Garry said.
River Falls residents have some options for viewing the solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the River Falls Public Library will stream NASA's live Eclipse coverage. A pinhole projector craft project is also planned. Pinhole projectors are a safe way to view the eclipse. UW-River Falls's physics department plans to set up some safe viewing equipment outside the observatory, provided weather allows, south of Centennial Science Hall, from about 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Daniel "Shooter" Suffield, of Shooter's Pub, 107 E. Elm St., and Jason Marks, of Broz Sports Bar, 127 S. Main St., are both hoping to see fewer underage drinkers coming into their bars with fake IDs in the future. In April, an underage drinker was caught at Shooter's with two fake IDs on him, and his real ID, Suffield said. He and Marks said this particular underage drinker was also seen on surveillance footage at Broz using a fake ID to drink. The underage drinker was arrested by police. But Suffield and Marks went a step further.
Both the city of River Falls and the town of River Falls recently approved a special use permit for a sand mining operation on land owned by Peterson Family Real Estate LLC. The land to be mined, W10322 Highway 29, is in the jurisdiction of both the town of River Falls and the city of River Falls' extraterritorial zone. The City Council approved the permit at its Tuesday, Aug. 8, regular meeting. Total Excavating would mine sand on an area of less than 10 acres, and would extract, crush, and screen sand material. Sand will be removed on an on-demand basis.
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