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Humble Rasmussen named Citizen of the Year

Bill Rasmussen

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."

His community involvement is part of why he was chosen, according to Chamber of Commerce employees Meghan Witthoft and Marissa Ostern. According to his anonymous nomination paper, Rasmussen has been involved in the community, with United Methodist Church, the River Falls Police Department, St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice, and more.

Rasmussen has served on the Chamber board for four years. He served as board chair in 2006.

"I think, overall, he's a huge asset to the chamber," Ostern said.

Both she and Witthoft said being new to the Chamber, Rasmussen has been helpful, especially with his involvement in planning River Falls Days.

Rasmussen came to River Falls about 50 years ago to attend UW-River Falls. He and his wife have lived in River Falls since 1968.

Rasmussen also worked for the police department for 30 years, and still serves as a police reserve officer. He often works at special events.

Through his work at the police department, he became involved in Pierce County Drug Court and St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice.

He also taught a behavior modification program for about 12 years at Chippewa Valley Technical College. The goal of that program was to make behavioral changes in people who'd been arrested for drunk driving.

He's also worked at Hammarback Law Offices for 30 years.

His combination of police work, law office work, and working with drug court and restorative justice have given him a unique perspective on the legal system, he said.

"It opened my mind," Rasmussen said. "When I was working for the police department, I saw one side of it."

He said his experiences with drug court, restorative justice and more have helped him understand people better.

"I don't think I'm any different than so many other people in our community that get involved," Rasmussen said. "The list is long of people who you see regularly participating in these organizations or on these boards and I'm just surprised they picked me."

Rasmussen said it's nice to be part of a community where so many people do get involved

"It's what makes River Falls, River Falls," he said. "These people who take time out of their day and get involved to make River Falls the kind of place it is. It's a good place to live."

Annual awards banquet

The River Falls Chamber of Commerce's annual awards banquet is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 1 at the UW-River Falls University Center. This year's event is Olympic-themed.

Awards finalists include:

Non-Profit of the Year

  • Adoray's Treasures From the Heart
  • American Legion Post 121
  • Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence

Small Business of the Year

  • Belle Vinez Winery
  • Lund's Fly Shop
  • Swinging Bridge Brewing Company

Large Business of the Year

  • First National Bank of River Falls
  • Viking Coca-Cola
  • West Wind Supper Club
Gretta Stark

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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