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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For 17-year-old exchange student Alisher Usmonov, visiting the U.S. is a dream come true. "It's amazing to be in America," he said. "It was my childhood dream, you know, and I tried my best, studied hard ... before coming here, I applied for (a) scholarship, and my dream came true."
Editor's note: This story is part of a series recapping the top stories of 2017. Read the other top stories here. This April, Hudson students and residents saw ground break on additions to Hudson High School. Work started with outside work, including a new parking lot, field and stadium. Those items were completed before school started in the fall. The stadium was opened in September, with an open house celebration, including performances by the Hudson Marching Band, Hudson Raidaires, Hudson Cheer and Stunt team and more.
On Monday, Dec. 18, the Hudson School Board started its meeting with a tour around the high school's construction zones. School District Superintendent Nick Ouellette lead board members through the high school's construction zones, explaining the status of each area. One of the first areas visited was the auditorium, which was then nearly done, and has since been completed enough to be used.
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
The Hudson City Council had a very young visitor during its Dec. 4 regular meeting. Dressed in a pink dress with a tiara and sash, 6-year-old Izzy Kramber introduced herself. "Big things come in small packages," she said, introducing herself. "And that's very true for this little firecracker ..." She told the council she loves to dance and make people smile. She is the 2017 National American Miss Wisconsin Princess. She shared a speech she had prepared for the competition with the council, inspired by the words of Dr. Seuss.
Writing a book has been a lifelong dream for Linda James. "It was always just something I wanted to do," she said. "I didn't know if I would really do it. I hoped that I would do it." About 15 months ago, she began working to make that dream a reality. And as of Oct. 11, James' dream had officially come true. She's published a book titled "The Space in Between." Set in 1968 in the fictional town of Springville, Minnesota, "The Space In Between" tells the story of a 10-year-old girl, Anna Hendricks, and her family.
River Falls and other firefighters and emergency responders were sent to the scene of a structure fire near N7521 Highway 65, in the town of River Falls, Saturday morning, Nov 11. Firefighters were called before 6:20 a.m. At around 7:50 a.m., those driving by could see smoke coming from the address on HIghway 65. Law enforcement redirected traffic around the many emergency vehicles at the scene of the fire. More information will be added as it becomes available.
Hudson resident August Hoffman runs a community vegetable garden with students. The foods produced are donated to local food centers and food pantries. "This time of year we also visit several apple orchards in Wisconsin and Minnesota," Hoffman said, "and the leftover apples are harvested by our students and donated to local food centers." Originally from Los Angeles, California, Hoffman has lived in Hudson for about 10 years, and teaches psychology at Metropolitan State University.
Sofie Daniels just celebrated her 18th birthday. Eighteen is a big milestone in Belgium, where Daniels is from, and her host mom Mona Schomas said Daniels has been very excited about it. In fact, Daniels' birthday came in the middle of a group of milestone birthdays for the Schomas family. Daniels, a Rotary exchange student, said she was matched with the North Star Rotary District, which includes Hudson, when she was deciding to take an exchange trip to the U.S. The Schomas family is her first host family, she said. "They're really nice," Daniels said.
Each Hudson elementary school is receiving as part of the Health Action book clubs. The "Health Action book clubs" are brought to Hudson through a partnership linking the Hudson School District with the Hudson Hospital Foundation and the Little Free Library nonprofit organization.