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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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."
Helen Crary Stassen was deeply affected by the loss of her son Benjamin to suicide in 2010. She tried all kinds of therapy. Finally, she and her husband decided to buy a horse, a Paint called Mara B. Having Mara around has made a huge difference in Stassen's world. But Mara hasn't just had an impact on Stassen and her family. Wanting to share Mara with the world, Stassen shares her story via a blog and Instagram. It was through Instagram that Stassen met Anastasia Hirst and John Fulton. Those two are going to make Stassen's and Mara's story reach even further.
Local mom and librarian Heather Johnson said she had been having conversations with her fifth grade daughter about how fifth graders were using technology. "We grew up in a generation where you had to learn how to craft an email and how to use online formats with communication that is positive and effective," Johnson said. It was out of her concern as a parent that she began to look for resources on how to help her child deal with the digital world.
One day, when Lily Van Allen's dad John Van Allen came to pick his daughter up from preschool, he found young Lily reading a story to the other kids. Some of the other kids were older than her, Lily's mom Leanne Van Allen said. "It was really fun to see at that young age," said Leanne. Lily has stayed an avid reader throughout the years. She's read Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" three times. She's read "Pride and Prejudice" twice, and enjoys Charles Dickens, as well as some more modern authors.