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 two referendum questions that both passed on the April 3 ballot, the River Falls School District has its work cut out for it over the next several years. "We're awful proud and thankful and appreciative of our community's support for our kids, and their education," said River Falls School District Superintendent Jamie Benson. "For the value that the community places on education for investing in today's children and their future." The referendum The referendum questions were as follows: Question 1:
The Pierce County - River Falls Relay For Life held its 20th annual event at River Falls High School Friday, April 6. Opening ceremonies were kicked off by survivors entering a packed event.
River Falls is once again tuning up for its annual Roots and Bluegrass Festival, set for this weekend, April 13-15. New this year, Chamber Marketing and Communications Specialist Meghann Witthoft said, is a Flapjacks and fidles event at Riverwalk Square, which will include Pancakes, Syrup and bluegrass music by Riverwalk Junction band. That will kick off Saturday's events at 9:30 a.m. at Riverwalk Square. Witthoft said the chamber is partnering with the River Falls Public Library for a hoedown barn dance.
Local artist Harold Henson has long been a part of the arts scene in River Falls, from Art on the Kinni to speaking at schools, and more. One of Henson's latest works is a mural painted on a wall in a long hallway inside Kinnic Falls Alcohol and Drug Abuse Service Inc.'s building in River Falls. Kinnic Falls Executive Director Kate Ihus said the mural is more than just artwork.
"I guess you could say I've always been an activist," said Lisa Mueller. She grew up in Madison and has been a champion for various causes over the years. That's part of why she decided to join the March for Our Lives event Saturday, March 24. "This one spoke to me in a very personal way because I have two school-age kids," she said. Mueller joined Juliet Tomkins and others from the area in going to the march. Tomkins said she was inspired to attend the march by the activism of students in Parkland, Florida, and all over the country.
The annual River Falls Lions club Easter Egg hunt was "another huge success," according to Lions Club President Ryan Leitch. "We were a little bit nervous about having a lower turnout this year compared to years past due to the egg hunt falling on the first weekend of Spring Break for the school district," said Leitch. "We ended up having about 400 participants this year, which is actually an increase from the past couple of years." Leitch said kids of various ages participated in the egg hunt in the high school gym, and the "carnival" in the high school commons.
The River Falls American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the River Falls Optimists Club hosted a River Falls City Council candidate forum last week, which was moderated by Rita Kozak Monday, March 12. The forum included two mayoral candidates: incumbent Dan Toland and Aaron Taylor; four candidates for two alderperson-at-large positions: incumbent Jeff Bjork, incumbent Scott Morrissette, Judie Foster-Babcock, and Michael Page; and two candidates for district four alderperson: incumbent Todd Bjerstedt, and Ben Plunkett. Opening statements
Wednesday, March 14, an estimated 100 or more students stood in a semicircle around the flagpole at River Falls High School. Some students shivered or shifted their weight from foot to foot in the chilly weather. But the students' silence from 10-10:17 a.m. was broken only by the sound of passing cars and the reading of a name once every minute. For each of the 17 minutes of the walkout, the name of one of the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting was read. Though they were silent during the walkout, several students had a lot to say afterward.
The River Falls American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the River Falls Optimists Club organized two candidate forums last week, one of which was moderated by Mike Norman and held Thursday, March 15 where school board candidates were invited to answer questions from the public. Candidates Todd Andrews, Cindy Holbrook, Mike Miller, Mike Thompson, and Alan Tuchtenhagen were present at the forum. Kellen Wells-Mangold could not attend, but offered a prepared statement that was printed and available for those attending the forum.
UW-River Falls Prof. Kevyn Juneau is a new professor. He's in his second year at UWRF, and has been looking for different opportunities for his students. He wants his students involved in class projects, as well as developing a sense of place. Juneau was at a public meeting, chatting with some folks there, and ended up talking about possibly doing a semester-long land management project with his students on land owned by the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust (KRLT).