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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A crowd packed the River Falls City Council Chambers Monday, Jan. 15 during the River Falls Utility Advisory Board's regular meeting, with many people standing along the back and side of the room. During the meeting the UAB voted to make a recommendation regarding relicensing the city's two hydroelectric dams. The UAB voted to recommend relicensing the Junction Falls hydro facility, and surrendering the license for the Powell Falls facility and removing the dam at some point in the future.
Spring Valley High School senior Sergio Rivero said the United States and Spain aren't necessarily all that different. For example, friends hanging out in Spain do things such as go the the movies or bowling. In Spring Valley, kids also like to go to the movies and bowling as well. "I think my favorite thing was going bowling because we were laughing a lot," Rivero said. "And then we went to eat pizza and that was a very fun day." Homecoming week was also fun, he said.
Spring Valley is a very different place from what Anna Maute is used to. She's an exchange student from Germany. It's "totally not" what she's used to, but she said she's become fond of the little village. "I really like it," Maute said. So far, she said, she's had a lot of fun. One place she's visited has been the Mall of America. "It's too big," she said of the mall. "We were there the whole day. My feet really hurt. But It was fun."
The River Falls Public Library hosts a gingerbread contest each year in December. The winners were declared last week and include: Youth Traditional: 1st place - Ellen Somerville 2nd place - Anika Hovland Graham Cracker: 1st place - Emmett Matter 2nd place - Hailey Perfect Adult Traditional: 1st place - Jill Wurdell (also People's Choice Winner) 2nd place - Kim Kiiskinen Youth Whimsical: 1st place - Sebastien Bowden 2nd place - Harvey Bowden Adult Whimsical: 1st place (tie) - Roseanne Olsen
After a year of work, the Spring Valley School District's new website went live Friday afternoon, Dec. 8. School District Network Administrator Bruce Turner said the new website is an update from the original which was created with Microsoft FrontPage in the '90s, and transferred to Adobe Dreamweaver in 2007-2008. The new website has a scrolling picture board. Turner called it a "pleasing layout" and said the new design makes information easier to find.
After about 36 years of working, Tony Steiner said he's ready to relax. Steiner, the River Falls City Planner, has worked for the city for close to 28 years. When he started with River Falls in 1990, he found the job via an advertisement in "the Planner's Job Mart," Steiner said. "They were looking for a landscape architect with a planner's background," he said. "I'm both, I liked the area, it sounded like a potential fit so I applied and here we are."
June Cicero was just finishing law school when she first ran for River Falls Municipal Judge. She was running for an open seat as the previous municipal judge had moved. On the advice of someone who'd done political campaigning, she invited about 12-14 of her classmates to come and go door-to-door with her one afternoon. That was some 33 years ago. She's been consistently re-elected every four years since then. But now, Cicero said, she's decided not to file for re-election.
Bonny Beyer, 16, comes from a small village in Thuringia, Germany called Schmiderfelt. She said Schmiderfelt is small, like Spring Valley, where she's spending half of her exchange year this school year. "I really like it here," Beyer said. "The people are really friendly and it doesn't matter if I ask in the first days, 'can you help me to open my locker,' or something like that." She said she's felt very welcomed here. Beyer said she gets along well with her host family, Jack Hannack and his wife Bonnie.
As the Spring Valley School Board continues working towards a plan for the district's elementary school building, the board has been reaching out to citizens to ensure whatever plan is chosen meets the expectations of the community. "It's their elementary school," said School District Superintendent Dr. Donald Haack. "I take care of the schools, but the schools belong to the citizens of the Spring Valley district. And we want to do with the schools what they want us to do. So we need to get a really, really good feeling for what they want."
Town of Oak Grove resident Tom Winkler was working at the St. Croix County Jail as a chaplain's assistant. One day, an inmate told him, "it was great that I came in and tried to 'save' the inmates, but maybe I should try to save somebody before they get put in prison," Winkler said. "I came home and I said, hey, this is what this guy said to me," Winkler said, "And we talked about it, and at the time, our kids were gone, and where we are in this big house with not enough people in it, and a desire to help people who need help, and off we went."