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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Thanks to the work of a city intern, there is a new way to explore River Falls. Intern Tyler Galde has created two new Story Maps. The interactive websites allow people to explore the city from the comfort of their own home, or from afar, or take a walking tour of the city.
"I'll be home for Christmas," the old song promises. Local resident Katie Chaffee thought she'd found a home for "Jack," a cat her sister had found and rescued, for Christmas. Another River Falls resident, Jennifer Gunderson, and her mom Jackie Heller thought they'd found the same cat a home as a companion animal for an elderly woman in the assisted living facility where Heller works. Unfortunately, the assisted living facility's regulations won't allow the resident to adopt Jack, and Jack is once again without a home.
Servant of the Shepherd Church, 103 N. 4th St., has been running its sober house program next door for about 17 years. The goal is to help recently sober people rebuild their lives, say house managers Pam Norton and Kevin Patrick, and Servant of the Shepherd Pastor Frank Lukasiewicz. "It's a safe place to learn how to be part of a family again," Patrick said. "They learn how to get their life literally back together, because once they've gone through the gamut of addiction, they have an aftermath of like a tornado."
The River Falls School District has done well, so far, with promoting diversity, says Superintendent Jamie Benson. "We would be remiss to suggest or pretend there isn't' always more that could or should be done," he said. "We have room to grow and learn and ways to improve in all areas of what we (have) done as a school district." Diversity is one area that the school district will try to improve on going forward. To that end, the district has formed a diversity committee, chaired by Benson and Jennifer Peterson, director of academic services.
Sofia Font Rodriguez was well-prepared when she came to River Falls for the beginning of the school year. "I did a lot of research," she said. "I look(ed) on YouTube. Every video I could of the high school, and of the town, all the pictures I could find, and also what were the activities I could do here, or how can you get to Minneapolis." Font Rodriguez comes from Aiguafreda (a city in the province of Barcelona), Spain. Her home is in a distinct region called Catalonia, that's a bit different from the rest of Spain. Her first language is actually Catalan, not Spanish.
They may not have been sure yet how they'd done in their Politics of American Cities class, but last Tuesday a group of UW-River Falls students did know their project had passed—at least as far as the City Council was concerned. Professor Neil Kraus's Politics of American Cities Class was split into groups, and each was assigned to work with a different municipality. One of those groups, lead by student Alex Saxe, worked with the city of River Falls to create a new policy.
As Americans are "dreaming of a White Christmas," and snow is covering the ground, River Falls High School exchange student Muneeb Kamran is enjoying his snowy experience. "The snow has been fun," he said. "I haven't seen snowfall before coming to U.S. and it was a pretty good experience." "The first time it snowed...it was night, but me and my host brothers went out and built a snowman." When Kamran came to the U.S. from Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, for his exchange trip, he hoped to find find diversity, and business learning.
The River Falls Public Library has announced the winners of its annual gingerbread contest.
One local kitty is looking for a home for Christmas. The orange tabby male, who is being called "Jack," was found by Katie Chafee's sister Gina. Gina called Chaffee when she found the cat. She is caring for the cat now, and said Jack seems to be too much of a house cat to fare very well in the great outdoors. This approximately two-year-old intact male had either escaped or been dumped on Swedish Mission Road, a short country road about two miles west of River Falls.
Derek Washington found the Unitarian Universalist Society of River Falls during a time in his life when he was questioning life and spirituality. He found the UU, which encourages "a free and responsible search for truth," to fit his spiritual needs, after meeting previous UUSRF minister Ted Tollefson at a ministerium gathering. Washington has a background in ministry, so when Tollefson announced his plans to move on from the UUSRF, Washington did some soul-searching and decided he wanted to apply to fill the vacant minister position.