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Janicki family hopes to honor late daughter's memory at new dog park

Jenna Janicki, shown with standard poodle, Lady, has started a petition to gather community support, as she asks the city to consider naming the new dog park in honor of her late daughter Nola. Jenna and her family are also working with the city to honor Nola in other ways at the dog park, and have started a gofundme page to support those efforts. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia.

The community came together to mourn with the Janicki family when 11-year-old Meyer Middle School student Nola Janicki died by suicide in March. Her mother, Jenna Janicki, said the community has been supportive of her family, and she's heard that Nola's story has touched many people's lives in ways she hadn't realized.

Jenna said her family appreciate the outpouring of support. Now, Jenna is asking the community to help her family create a memorial to Nola at the city's new dog park.

Jenna said she and her family have been talking with the city of River Falls about ways to honor Nola's memory at the city's new dog park.

"When Nola first passed away, she was an avid animal-lover, so we knew that we wanted to remember her in some way that had something to do with animals," Jenna said.

Jenna said when she found out the city was putting in a dog park, she contacted the city to see how they could honor Nola's memory at the park.

Jenna said some ideas discussed include: a dog toy chest, memorial statues, a story written by Nola put into plaques along a pathway for people to read, a dog agility course, and more.

City Administrator Scot Simpson said City Recreation Manager Cindi Danke is working with Jenna on ways to memorialize Nola at the dog park.

In addition to other memorial efforts, Jenna said she and her family's "pipe dream" is to see the park named in honor of Nola. Jenna has been playing with name ideas and said she likes the name "Nola's Barking Buddies."

"She was a person that always wanted to make people happy," Jenna said. "And i think it's just a way that she can continue to make people happy."

Simpson said the city's naming policy requires naming requests to be reviewed by the city administrator and the city council.

"Typically, we work with families on small remembrances such as trees, benches, or other enhancements to our parks and public facilities," said Simpson. "Larger requests are likely to be reviewed by staff, then Park Board, then City Council."

The city's naming policy, approved in 2016, states:

"For landmarks that are proposed to be named for an individual or family, Naming Rights are

contingent upon successful completion of background research by City staff authorized with a

release form signed by the applicant."

According to the policy, a donor can submit a request for naming rights to the city administrator. That request can either be approved or denied by the city administrator or City Council, depending on the donation amount.

Donations under $25,000 are approved by the administrator.

Donations of $25,000 or more are approved by the City Council.

The policy also includes guidelines for naming a park or facility. Donors seeking naming rights are "encouraged" to follow the guidelines:

● Land for the park was deeded to the city by the donor.

● Contribution by the donor of a minimum of 50 percent of the construction costs associated with developing the park or facility.

● A contribution by a donor to allow for a significant cost reduction in upgrading/expanding on existing facility within a park.

"Based on the policy and the fact that the River Falls Dog Park is already named and opened," Simpson said, "city staff is focused on finding ways, other than re-naming the park, to allow family and friends of Nola to contribute an enhancement to the park in honor of Nola."

Janicki is hoping to gather support and convince the city to change the name of the park to honor her daughter.

She's started a petition, and is asking River Falls residents in particular to sign the petition, and show support for naming the dog park after Nola.

Jenna has also started a gofundme campaign to support other memorial efforts for the dog park. Jenna said the gofundme money will go to the park regardless of whether or not the city grants the request to name the park in Nola's honor.

Whatever form of memorial or memorials end up being put in place at the dog park, Jenna said, she and her family are looking forward to seeing Nola honored there.

"This has been something that's been really healing for our family," said Jenna. "To think about really celebrating how she lived."

Nola loved animals, Jenna said, it's nice to know that having her memory associated with supporting the dog park will mean a lot to her family.

"She was a really happy kid and just full of life and happiness," said Jenna, "so it would just be good to see that have her name associated with it."

Gretta Stark

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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