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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Many look forward to this time of year. In River Falls, in addition to Valentines Day, there's also River Falls Community Theatre (RFCT)'s production titled "Shorts and Stouts". No, it's not a beer bash for vertically challenged individuals, but a selection of hysterical short one-acts presented at Juniors Restaurant and Tap House. All the performers and support people are area residents. Juniors will offer a special food menu, along with full bar. Show tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students.
For the 15th year in a row, local area choirs are preparing to join their voices together for a concert. The annual "It Takes a Village" concert, set for 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, will combine choirs from Ezekiel Lutheran Church and River Falls First Congregational United Church of Christ, River Falls Community Choir, the Pierce County Ecumenical Choir and the Croix Chordsmen Barbershop Chorus. Each choir will perform two numbers and then join en masse for the two final numbers. At the center of the concert will be an update on the reason for the concert: Ganthier, Haiti.
The River Falls Chamber of Commerce celebrated its Annual Awards and Recognition Banquet in Olympic style Thursday, Feb. 1. Attendees were asked to wear gold, silver, or bronze accents to honor the Olympic theme. Winners in each of the award categories were recognized at the banquet. The event, held at the UW-River Falls University Center Ballroom, included dinner, raffles, and more. Winners are as follows: • Ambassador of the Year: Brian Manion, WESTconsin Credit Union • Citizen of the Year: Bill Rasmussen, Hammarback Law Office
One of the two candidates for River Falls' municipal judge seat has dropped out of the race, leaving Daniel Gorman the only candidate on the ballot for that position. The River Falls 2018 Spring Election candidates are as follows: Mayor Running for the mayor's position are Dan Toland (incumbent), and Aaron Taylor Alderperson at large Running for the two open alderperson at large seats are: Scott Morrissette (incumbent), Jeff Bjork (incumbent), Michael Page, and Judie Foster Babcock.
Last year was declared the "Year of Tomorrow" in this year's River Falls "State of the City" video report, delivered recently to the City Council at a Chamber of Commerce business breakfast event by City Administrator Scot Simpson. "We spent a lot of time on some long term projects," said Simpson about 2017. Some of those projects included the Kinni Corridor Project, Glen Park improvements, infrastructure planning with the North Interceptor Sewer Project, finishing work on the Kinni Trail System, and identifying what the next projects may be.
Our Neighbors' Place Day Center has seen a 90 percent increase in traffic over the last year. Its work with housing assistance and its backpack program have especially grown over the last year. "We want to be able to support these programs," said Our Neighbors' Place Director Jay Matchett. To help support these and other programs to help battle homelessness in the River Falls area, ONP is planning a Casino Night at Kilkarney Hills Golf Course on Feb. 10. Tickets are $40 in advance or $50 at the door.
Bill Rasmussen said he was surprised to be nominated as this year's River Falls Chamber of Commerce citizen of the year. He was also surprised when chamber membership voted to select him as the winner. He said he's curious why he was chosen. "I don't think I did anything out of the ordinary," he said. "I've lived here a long time. I just work here and get involved."
As the snow piled up Monday, Jan. 22 River Falls' snow maintenance staff was working hard to clear roads and keep driving conditions as safe as possible. But even as they worked on the large storm, they were being conscious not to over-use one go-to snow and ice removal tool: salt. "You can overdo salt," said City Operations Director Mike Stifter, "and salt has a real negative effect on the environment." And especially on water resources, like the Kinnickinnic River.
Athletes haven't been the only ones practicing after school, working hard, and preparing for competitions at Meyer Middle School. The MMS Lego Robotics Club's three teams have been working hard, training and competing this year.
Tenth-grader Hunter Jamison has been fishing all his life. When he was in seventh grade, his father gave him the idea to start a fishing club. He brought that idea to life this school year. "I went and talked to Mr. (Kit) Luedtke," Jamison said. "He likes fishing too, so he thought it was a great idea." Jamison said Luedtke helped get the ball rolling, and Jamison started asking teachers if they'd be advisor to the club. Matt Smith agreed to be the advisor.