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."
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.
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."
As the weather gets chillier, and the days get shorter, many people around River Falls are decorating and preparing for the holidays. For a lot of people, that means Christmas. For members of the local Karuna Buddhist Sangha, that also means Bodhi Day. Bodhi Day is a celebration of the enlightenment, or awakening of the Buddha, according to the Rev. Shinko Rick Sloan, a zen priest and a leader of Karuna Buddhist Sangha. A sangha is a group of Buddhist practitioners.
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."
Barbara Johnson and several others spent Saturday morning, Nov. 18 outdoors, moving fences, cleaning up after a devastating house fire with one volunteer operating a skid steer. Though the day was chilly, they kept themselves busy. Meanwhile, Johnson's dog, Rhett, ran back and forth in a pen, watching the humans work, keeping an eye on Johnson. Johnson said Rhett has been keeping an eye on her ever since a fire destroyed her house at N7521 Highway 65 Saturday, Nov. 11. Johnson and Rhett, and two cats, survived the fire.
After years as River Falls' Emergency Medical Services director, Jeff Rixmann is stepping into a new role. Rixmann has accepted the position of Community Relations Coordinator, said Assistant City Administrator Julie Bergstrom. "It's basically what Jeff has been doing, along with the EMS director duties," Bergstrom said. "And with the growth in the organization, it's just too hard to get everything done." So, Rixmann has stepped into the newly-created position.