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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The Copper Kettle was the clear winner of this year's Burger Battle, according to Craig Hofland, one of the organizers, and Teri-Gene Conlan of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Copper Kettle owner/operator Ted Leier said it feels good to win. "We've got a great staff," he said. "And this kinda shows everything that we're doing." Leier said the winning burger was a good product for a good cause —one that he's glad Copper Kettle could be a part of.
Brycie Wasson has a genetic eye condition that means she needs to use thicker glasses, and has lower vision. "When I was young, the culture was all about kind of fitting in, and blending in, not self-advocating," Wasson said. "I'm still, even to this day, really just not great at asking for help." When her son Joey Repphun was born with the same condition, she wanted to make sure he didn't feel held back by low vision. "I worked so hard to teach Joey not to feel any limitation, just to do what he loves," Wasson said.
This year, the Hudson School District received a donation from The Butterfly Path, a nonprofit that works to increase access to mental health assistance. The donation allowed the district to fill gaps in its co-located mental health services program, which helps students who are uninsured or underinsured have access to mental health services, said Chief of Schools Officer Erin Schiltgen. Though she said it's hard to define the impact this donation will have on individual students, Schiltgen said the donation had a big impact district-wide.
Work has started on a unique project created by Houlton Elementary students, with the help of many adults in the community who all lent their talents to make the kids' vision come to life. The project is part of the Art Bench Trail, a series of what will now be 10 benches, all designed and created by kids, with support from adults in their communities. This new bench, in Houlton, is the 10th bench, said Anastasia Shartin of The Phipps Center for the Arts.
A group of women dressed in large hats decked with flowers and ribbons, and long sashes spoke before the River Falls City Council during the public comment section of the council's regular meeting Tuesday, May 28. The group, lead by Lorraine Davis of the River Falls American Association of University Women (AAUW), had decked themselves out in the regalia of suffragettes in the year 1919, when the United States ratified the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
Arnold Roen sat in the front row at the River Falls Memorial Day Program this year, held in the Meyer Middle School gym due to rain. He sat on a folding chair with his wife, and one of his daughters on bleachers nearby, for the program. Known by most as "Arnie," Roen said in a separate interview that Memorial Day is especially important to him as he served for three years and three months during World War II. WWII
Jill Magee didn't realize how serious her illness was about a year ago, when she came down with flu-like symptoms: fever, aches and pains. She said she let things go on for a month or two before she ended up going to the doctor where she learned she had Lyme disease. Even with relatively quick intervention, Magee said, the disease \ took its toll on her. She developed Bell's Palsy, a form of temporary partial facial paralysis, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
A group of people filled the River Falls Public Library's lower level Wednesday, April 24. The crowd gathered to learn more about potential plans for commuter trains going from Eau Claire to the Twin Cities. William Draves, co-chair of the St. Croix Valley Rail Group, said his organization and the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition are planning a fully-private train, which would not use taxpayer dollars for support. The group shared some history of efforts to bring a passenger train to the area, where those efforts are today, and then took time to answer questions.
Warm spring weather greeted Easter egg seekers at the annual Hudson Boosters Easter Egg Hunt Saturday, April 20 in Prospect Park. Event organizers said they handed out more than 600 chocolate bunnies to the largest crowd they'd ever hosted. Bicycle winners included Riley Deaton, Effie Kleinhuizen, Dawson Rubenbauer, Corbin Mayer, Veda Schewe, and Ren Mack.
When she lost her apartment in a fire on Jan. 26, Ashley Christiansen lost more than her home and possessions. She lost a piece of her family: Her 3-year-old tabby cat, Tater. Christiansen said she misses Tater, or Tate for short, "more than I could ever explain." "I don't have a home anymore, so having him would give me a sense of home," she said. "He was my family for two years." The fire ravaged Christiansen's apartment at 222 E. Walnut St. in the early morning hours of Jan. 26; its contents were destroyed.