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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People and dogs have been loving the new city dog park, W10225 County Highway FF, said city of River Falls Recreation Manager Cindi Danke "There are times that the parking lot is almost full, even now with the colder weather," Danke said. "We are in the process of planning a first year celebration on National Dog Day, which is always Aug. 26 every year."
River Falls' newest police officer Wesley Adams attended a Coffee With a Cop event on the UW-River Falls campus not long ago. To him, it was a worthwhile experience. "(It was) a good opportunity for them to talk to an actual officer, see what we do here in River Falls and what our day-to-day activities are," he said. "It was also a great chance for those students to see if they have any interest in law enforcement and for officers to connect with the community."
Mental health has been the topic of much discussion across the country with celebrities sharing their own mental health stories, and organizations like NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) holding awareness campaigns. Local counselor Scott Jacobs said the actual need for mental health care hasn't changed much over the past 40 years, though he believes awareness about mental health issues is growing locally and nationally.
Every year, the River Falls Public Library challenges patrons to take part in its annual gingerbread contest. Contestants compete in several categories, and the winners are chosen by a panel of judges. Library patrons also vote on a "People's Choice" winner. "All of the entries were awesome artworks this year," said library event and gallery coordinator Cole Zrostlik. "We were amazed by how much time and talent went into building the this year's entries." This year's winners are as follows: Traditional/Architectural Designs
One of the gingerbread houses sitting in the River Falls Public Library is covered in symbols representing opposites, brought together on one gingerbread house: From Packers and Vikings to Democrats and Republicans. Its creator, Jane Mannetter, said she hopes it conveys a message of togetherness and cooperation, despite differences. Mannetter is widely known throughout the community as "Zaney Janey" for her party business, doing things like giving henna tattoos at events. That is only one piece of what she does.
The city of River Falls recently appointed City Clerk Amy White as interim treasurer for the city. Approved at the Nov. 27 City Council meeting, the appointment comes in the wake of former Treasurer Susan Langer's resignation. She left, said Assistant City Administrator Julie Bergstrom, to pursue another opportunity in October after about six months in the position.
The River Falls City Council voted to close Tax Increment District 7 during its regular meeting Tuesday, Dec. 11. TID 7 was located in the area of Clark and Cedar Streets, next to City Hall, and was created in 2009, in anticipation of proposed commercial development that did not occur, due to economic downturn. A new district in the same area was recently approved for upcoming residential development, so the old TID 7 was terminated.
While students at local schools may be receiving or preparing to receive their report cards, it's also the time of year that River Falls School District receives its report card from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. River Falls' overall score this year, a 77.7, is very close to last year's 77.6. "I think that we kind of expected to be very similar to what we were last year," said River Falls Director of Academic Services Jennifer Peterson.
River Falls Community Theatre's production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" lives up to its name, sharing with audiences the heart and hilarity of the original novel. Like the beloved classic, the play tells the story of a small town and a family of "the worst kids in the history of the world," the Herdmans: Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claud, and Gladys. The Herdmans come to church for free snacks and shock the kids and adults in town by taking over the annual Christmas pageant.
Toastmasters invites the public to its open house 10:30 a.m. to noon Dec. 8 at the River Falls Public Library (140 Union St.) The guest speaker will be Dustin Dodge, co-owner with Mike O'Hara of the Swinging Bridge Brewery. Dodge, an air force veteran and firefighter in the Twin Cities, was always interested in a small business. He will share how Swinging Bridge Brewery got its start, how he found the space and financial support with the tutelage of the UW-River Falls Small Business Development Center, a mentoring organization called SCORE and a regional business fund.