Phil Pfuehler has been editor of the River Falls Journal since 1991.
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Most college graduates want a decent-paying job and to move on with their lives. Not Brad Wagenaar. Not yet. He's moving on, but not for himself. The rural River Falls resident graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a clinical psychology degree.
With the fastest all-around time as an American in recent Olympic speed skating trials, Maria Lamb surges toward her second Winter Olympics this month. The town of River Falls native will compete in the 5,000 meter race, the longest for women. Her mother, Betty, says Maria skates fastest the longer the distance. Four years ago speed skater Maria had her first taste of the Winter Olympics held in Torino, Italy. Maria didn't win a metal but competed in the 1500 meter race, finishing 24th out of 35.
A 21-year-old local driver was found lodged in a snowbank near Grove and Maple streets at 8 a.m. Sunday. Head leaning against the side window, he appeared to have passed out. An officer rapping on the window finally got his attention. The man said what he last remembered was heading to a friend's house.
Otis Marshall Rucks, 51, a recovering alcoholic, has not been seen since Wednesday, Jan. 12. Family and friends have not heard from him and say he hasn't answered his cell phone. Rucks, from Minnesota, was recently a client at the local Kinnic Falls halfway house. Police were contacted to see if they could help locate Rucks. He's not wanted for a crime, but there's concern about his condition and whereabouts. Rucks is six feet one, 220 pounds, and drives a burgundy GMC Suburban.
The school board Monday passed a resolution to refinance just under $9 million in general obligation bonds for a much lower interest rate. The expected savings will go directly to school district taxpayers. The 1999 bonds relate to borrowing needed to build the high school. Finance Director Chad Smurawa said the debt's current interest rate is 5.5%. The new rate will come during bidding next month.
After innocently going to church Sunday morning, Wendy Querna returned home to this "supportive" birthday greeting at 217 Hamilton Drive. "It took me a couple of seconds to process it all. There was underwear everywhere -- in the trees, on the roof, in the backyard," said Querna, who works at River Falls State Bank and just turned the big 50. The perpetrators were relatives from Prescott and Hastings, Minn., along with her son, David, a 2009 River Falls High School graduate and the "inside man," giving the signal when Querna left the house.
A 17-year-old boy was arrested for battery last week at a home on Eighth Street for allegedly swearing at his mother, then pushing her so that she fell on her infant son who sat on a bouncy chair on the floor. When the stepfather tried to restrain the teenager, the two toppled over the family Christmas tree. The mother was allegedly pushed and fell a second time. She complained of back pain but the infant wasn't harmed. River Falls police this past week also: Arrested a 14-year-old city of River Falls boy for disorderly conduct and property damage at the Wildcat Court apartments.
Her mother expects Paige Paulson to land at the Minneapolis airport at 1 p.m. Friday after leaving Haiti in the middle of the night. "I'm very excited," said Jackie Paulson, who took a call at 4:30 a.m. from Paige, saying she had landed in New Jersey, taken a bus to Philadelpia and was set to fly home after that. "At that hour, we were both a little giddy on the phone." Jackie said Paige described it as "crazy and quite an adventure getting out of the American embassy." The church group she was with traveled at night by armored vehicle to the airport.
Pat O'Malley, owner of Kilkarney Hills Golf Club in River Falls, arrived in Haiti Tuesday just an hour before the massive earthquake struck. O'Malley has done humanitarian work in Haiti for years and makes frequent trips to that island nation. His family had no word on his well-being until mid-afternoon Wednesday when they got a brief e-mail from him saying, "I am OK." Daughter Sherry O'Malley said even getting those three words was a relief. "All we know is that he's alive," she said from the O'Malley home in rural River Falls.
A 22-year-old college student flagged for a traffic violation allegedly made a run for it. He may have panicked and forgotten he wasn't dressed for a subzero break away. He was with a female companion who also took her chances on foot. The male student was slow to respond to an officer's attempts to pull him over on Main Street. He finally turned into a driveway at 702 S.