Phil Pfuehler has been editor of the River Falls Journal since 1991.
- Member for
- 3 years 3 months
River Falls High School Principal Elaine Baumann concedes that, "After last year's scores, anything would be tough to be beat." Turns out last year's record-high local ACT score of 23.9 was unbeatable. This year's graduating class tallied an overall ACT score of 22.7 and was down in each tested core subject: Reading, English, Math and Science. Still, Baumann put the new ACT results in perspective: "Looking at the five-year average, last year was big increase, a tough act to follow. This year is more typical." The new River Falls ACTs were the lowest in several years.
River Falls School District gets a year's reprieve. Financial pain from big state aid cuts won't be felt until the 2012-13 school year. When that happens, projections show the district may need to cut a record $1 million to balance the next year's budget. Superintendent Tom Westerhaus said a shortfall of that magnitude will mean eliminating programs and likely increasing class sizes. Result: Teachers, students and parents will be affected. What saved the district for the 2011-12 school year was a federal jobs grant.
A 35-year-old local man kept banging at the door of a house in the 300 block of East Pine Street at 5 a.m. Friday. He wanted in. Those inside the house were scared and wanted him to stay out. River Falls police came to the rescue and handcuffed the man, whom they described as drunk and mostly undressed. His clothes were found strewn in the yard and driveway. The man also had cuts and bruises.
At a special meeting last week, River Falls School Board members quickly concluded that with a few "tweaks" they could turn defeat into victory by holding a slightly revised referendum format in November. Last April, by a narrow margin (51.7%-48.3%), school district voters rejected a $39 million referendum question to modernize, upgrade and add on to the various schools. The overhauls were meant to extend each school's lifespan by roughly 30 years. At last week's special meeting on what to do next, board members decided their original referendum plan remained well-reasoned and economical.
A neighbor late last month complained that a 29-year-old man living in the 700 block of High Ridge Road purposely left his kennel filled with animal poop on the edge of their properties. The kennel door was open and facing the offended neighbor's property. River Falls police were contacted. The man with the open cage of doggy doo was contacted by phone. No contact was made but a message left.
At a special meeting Wednesday, Aug. 3, school board members reaffirmed their support for key components of the voted-down $39-million April referendum and tentatively decided to hold another referendum in November. The big difference: The new referendum will likely have two, three or four questions, meaning voters will have choices on how many projects, if any, to support. The school board will have its next meeting on the topic at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24. The public is welcome to attend and provide input.
Being a police chief for 10 years is notable. Holding the job for 20 years is a milestone. In River Falls, Roger Leque has reached a milestone. It was this month 20 years that he replaced departing Jack Arndt as acting police chief.
A lazy black bear helped itself to an easy meal of bird seed on the back yard deck at the Fredrich home in the town of Troy, near Townsvalley and East Cove roads (just east of County Road F) Wednesday evening, July 20. The bear stayed for about 40 minutes until it was full. It also pressed its nose to the patio door to get a better look inside at the Fredrich's dog, then climbed over the deck railing and wobbled off into the woods. The Fredrichs plan to remove all the bird food so the bear doesn't return again.
Political rookie BJ Cook's drive to become an independent candidate in the 10th Senate District recall election was short lived but what he stands for may live on. Cook, 29, a city of River Falls resident, claims to represent the middle ground, compromise, common sense and the interests of the average person. "I'm tired of the polarization of both Democrats and Republicans," he said.
Eighty-one-year-old Calvin Jennings survived two days in the woods trapped in his skid loader before being extricated by River Falls ambulance and fire workers late Wednesday morning, July 20. The incident took place on Jennnings farm on County Road F four miles west of River Falls. Jennings was found by a hired hand who had come to help with chores.