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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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."
Emily Belland has put in more than 300 hours of community service so far during her time at Ellsworth High School. Students are only required to put in 50 hours of community service to graduate. Fifty more hours, plus a capstone project earn a student a letter in community service. Belland has lettered her freshman, sophomore, and junior years, and she's hoping to do so again next year. Belland just completed her junior year at EHS.
David Fodroczi isn't ready to say the word "retire" when it comes to stepping down from his position as executive director of the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust. "Let's just say I don't have life's next adventure figured out yet," he said. "I've enjoyed all the things I've been involved with throughout my professional life, and I'm not sure I'm ready to just totally walk away from all that." Instead, Fodroczi said he's taking a step back and taking time to figure out what's next for him.
Four years ago, Gavin Anderson decided not to collect presents from his friends for his sixth birthday party. Instead, he collected donations for Hudson-based Coco's Heart Dog Rescue. "He was very interested right from the start," said Gavin's mom Kristy. "He looked up a couple different charities and ultimately decided to choose Coco's Heart." Each year since then, Kristy and dad Jason Anderson have given Gavin the option of getting presents or collecting donations at his birthday parties with his friends.
Crowds flocked to River Falls July 14-16 for the annual River Falls Days celebration.
Each year teens and young adults come together from all over the country to represent their states in the 4-H National Shooting Sports Championship. This year's Wisconsin competitors included quite a few from Pierce County. The entire Wisconsin Hunting Skills team, for example, is made up of Pierce County youth. For example, River Falls resident April Daniel's three children, Allex, Aaron, and Meggan, each earned their place on one of the state teams representing Wisconsin at the national championship.