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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As early as this fall, preliminary construction could begin on the newest housing development in River Falls, Habitat for Humanity's EcoVillage. Area residents aren't the only ones watching EcoVillage's progress. Larry Gluth, senior vice president for US & Canada's Habitat of Habitat for Humanity International, has also been following the project's progress closely. Jim Farr, executive director of the local St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity, met Gluth at a national conference and talked with him about the EcoVillage project.
Greenwood Elementary School has a new addition to its front lawn. A young maple tree has been planted to replace the recently removed old maple that had stood in the Greenwood lawn since the school was built. The old maple tree was cut down for safety reasons, as it was threatening to split and crush bystanders at any moment. The new maple is the largest transplantable tree Greenwood was able to get.
Tyler Grenzow is biking hard and grooming the trail in preparation for the fourth annual Border Battle Aug. 21 presented by the River Falls Economic Development Corporation. The Border Battle is one in a series of state championship off-road bike races for Wisconsin and Minnesota. It takes place each August in River Falls. The racers in the state championships are scored, and all of the Wisconsin competitors' points and all of the Minnesota competitors' points are totaled. The state with the most points wins a travelling trophy.
Digging artifacts out of storage for display on the lower level of the River Falls Public Library gave Linda Dahm, Katy Pupungatoa and Charlotte Roth a chance to reminisce about the good time they had in the Peace Corps. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the United States Peace Corps. The River Falls Public Library is celebrating with an exhibit showcasing artifacts brought back by former Peace Corps volunteers from River Falls.
Construction workers at First Congregational United Church of Christ have been answering questions about the ongoing construction at the church for children and passers-by. First Congregational Church's Pastor Chris Myers said the workers are patient, fun and respectful when explaining construction work to kids. "It's nice to see them," said Myers. The children of the church have had an avid interest since seeing the excavator help demolish the old fellowship hall, Myers said.
Eighty-one-year-old Calvin Jennings spent two days trapped in a skid loader with swarms of insects buzzing in the air, buzzards flying overhead, and the smell of the dead animal he'd just buried before he got stuck. Jennings was trapped in the skid loader for two of the hottest days of the month on the Jennings farm, 8748 County Rd. F. The temperature was in the 90s both days.
Starting Tonight Aug. 4, at 7:30 p.m., running Aug 5 and 6, and Aug. 11-13, the Under the Moon Theatre Company is presenting a show called "Garden Shorts Dessert Theatre: "Love and Other Afflictions". The show is a serios of one-act plays, four of which are written by Rick Burgteiner of River Falls. Tickets to the performane are $15 dollars and include dessert, a beverage, and the play, performed on the patio behind the Dish and the Spoon. Emily Lyon Hanson, co-owner of the Dish and the Spoon, is also performing the first one act play "Mrs. Sorkin".
The Hope Lutheran Church's softball team has a new member, and so does Hope Lutheran Church. But she's not just any member.The Rev. Sandra Johnson is Hope Lutheran's new pastor. Prior to her 2007 ordination, Johnson was an elementary teacher in Osceola where she lived with her husband Jed Reiten and her two sons. Johnson said she felt called to switch from elementary education to being her parish's Christian education director.
Mary Solum is 66, but said she feels like she's 45. She doesn't get backaches from bending over in her garden, and she can play with her grandsons. "I'm able to keep up with them," said Solum, "Not many grandmas like me." And Solum said all of this started when she retired, and started taking Silver Sneakers classes at the River Falls YMCA. "I feel like I'm doing something good for my body," said Solum, "that maybe I'll live longer and enjoy my grandkids longer." Vallie Ericson, 63, has osteoporosis, but said that Y Silver Sneakers classes have improved the condition.
The year Gene McKahan started working at the River Falls Municipal Utilities barcodes were used for the first time, President Nixon was impeached, and postage was 10 cents. Seven presidents and 34 more postage cents later, McKahan retired July 15 after 37 years at the River Falls Municipal Utilities, but he said he isn't going to let that take him away from his hometown. "I'm just retiring" said McKahan, "I'm not going away." McKahan was born in River Falls, graduated in 1967 from River Falls High School, and went to UW-River Falls for three years until he started working at RFMU in 1974.