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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River Falls area residents have been turning the dial to 88.7 and tuning in to WRFW-FM since the station launched in November 1968. UW-River Falls launched the station on a budget of $9,000. Lorin Robinson was the station's founder and the first faculty manager. He said there was an effort made to start a radio station at UWRF in 1966, but the project ran into two problems: budget and finding a space that could hold the station.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, a new academy opened in River Falls: Buckthorn Academy of Magical Arts. "Buckthorn" is the brainchild of Fox Den Used Books owners Heather and James Williams, their son Evan and their staff. "My husband started it," Heather said. "He set the stage and the rest of us on staff ... started fleshing it out. Buckthorn is entirely our original creation, our own fresh new material. Pulling from mythology, local, plants, folklore. "This story became our love song to River Falls."
The Spring Valley School Board received an update on wind damage repairs to Spring Valley Middle-High School at its Oct. 1 regular meeting. Superintendent Don Haack assured the board the school had been made weather-tight. The school was damaged by a storm Sept. 20, and the school for the day Sept. 21 while damage was assessed. The board commended school staff present on keeping those who were at the school calm and safe when the storm hit.
The current River Falls Town Hall is located at the Randall School House, at the intersection of 770th Avenue (Randall Road) and Highway 65. The historic one-room schoolhouse also serves as a polling place for the town. With no internet, no air conditioning, no running water or indoor plumbing, it's not an easy place for poll workers to spend long election days, said Town Zoning Administrator Jerome Rodewald. The town also doesn't currently have an office for Rodewald's zoning administrator position or for the town clerk.
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.
Hudson Middle School eighth-grader Ryan Mayr has been a Scout since he joined Cub Scouts at 8 years old. He said achieving Eagle status has been his goal since the very beginning. "Really just since I started Scouts that's just really been my goal," Mayr said, "and really every Scout's goal to get to Eagle."
The new school year started for Hudson students on Monday, Sept. 10, so the Star-Observer asked principals and administrators to answer a few questions about what is new in their schools this year. Peg Shoemaker, Hudson High School principal What is new in the building?
Kinnickinnic River Land Trust Executive Director Dave Drewiske received many comments from people concerned about the new Aldi site's proximity to the Kinnickinnic River. "I'm like 'Well, wait a minute, the city has some of the best if not the best ordinances to protect a river of anywhere in the state, and they are not bending just because we're dealing with an international company," Drewiske said.
The River Falls Community Arts Base is preparing for its "signature event" and this year, it will be bigger than ever, according to CAB President Steve Preisler. This year's Art on the Kinni is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. The number of artist booths is now at the highest CAB has had for AOK, Preisler said. This year's event will see CAB hosting 85 artist booths. Of those 85, nine artists will be on the Budding Artist's Bridge. That's also the largest number of newer artists to fill the bridge at Art on the Kinni.
Candice Skow thought last Monday, Aug. 13 was just a normal day. She took her daughter to the orthodontist, and came home. "I was just told we have to be home by 2," Skow said. "Then my sister-in-law showed up. I thought 'oh, they're going to send me back-to-school shopping,' or something like that. And then my mom showed up, and I thought, 'OK, this is weird.'" Then, Skow noticed that everyone was watching the door.