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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Between the so-called "polar vortex" and large snowfalls, local school districts have cancelled school several times so far this month. So many times, in fact, that districts are making plans to make up the lost time, to make sure they are giving children the number of instructional hours required by the state. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website, Wisconsin administrative code requires 437 hours for kindergarten, 1,050 hours for first through sixth grade, and 1,137 hours for grades 7-12.
When Johnathan Harsdorf was 8 years old, he liked to watch artist Mark Kistler's PBS show. "I watched him almost every day, I'd draw along with him," Harsdorf said. "It was great." Harsdorf continued drawing, doing cartoons for school newspapers and majored in website design in college. "It influenced my decision a lot in what I did as an adult, in choosing a more creative career path," Harsdorf said. Now, Harsdorf does website work for Kistler. And Harsdorf and his son, Christian, now 8 years old, draw together.
Charlene Brooks is different than most of the previous executive directors of the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust. Brooks, who officially started as executive director in September, and became full time in December, said the board was intentional about that decision.
Raven Hernandez had always wanted to go on a mission trip. "I've known a lot of friends who have gone to Honduras and had incredible experiences," she said. "I was just ready to go, and it was an opportunity." Hernandez was part of a group from Journey Church of River Falls and Christ Center Assembly of God of Hudson that recently took a mission trip to Honduras to build a church there. "It was a mix of being the hands and feet of Jesus," said Hernandez, "and also just getting to experience a new culture."
Heather Sperl woke up Saturday, Jan. 26, to a message from a friend asking to stay with her when she returned from vacation, because her home had just burned down. The friend was a resident of one of two homes at 222 Walnut St. and 209 S. Third St. that went up in flames in the early morning hours Saturday. Sperl said when she heard the news, she wanted to do something to help. She's organizing a benefit, to be held at Junior's Restaurant and Tap House on March 8, with the help of Cory Hart, manager at Junior's.
The River Falls City Council Chambers were filled with applause Tuesday evening, Jan. 22, after the council voted to approve the Kinni Corridor Plan. This plan is a “living document” that will guide the Kinnickinnic River corridor development for the next 20 years, according to Community Development Director Buddy Lucero. The Kinni Corridor Plan has been two years in the making.
River Falls has had a local Martin Luther King Jr. holiday breakfast since 2008. Unfortunately, this year, after 11 previous annual breakfasts, organizer Kathy Scott said this year's breakfast will not be happening. At least, not in River Falls. Several other breakfasts, which the River Falls event coordinated with in years pasts, will continue. Scott said a variety of circumstances, some of them personal, have kept this year's event from happening. She's hoping the event can make a comeback next year.
There had not been a handwritten Bible commissioned in some 700 years when The Saint John's Bible was commissioned, said Kay Fritz, local calligrapher. Planning and work began on The Saint John's Bible in 1995, and the last word was written in May 2011. The Saint John's Bible was written on vellum using quills, natural handmade inks, hand ground pigments, and gilded with gold leaf, silver leaf and platinum. It is a modern, English translation (New Revised Standard Version) with contemporary scripts and illuminations.
Hudson Middle School orchestra teacher Rachel Knipfer felt a surge of excitement when she first read an article about Mark Wood's "Electrify Your Strings" program. Wood plays violin in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. "Electrify Your Strings" is a music education program through which a team of "teaching artists" work with kids over a two- to three-day visit. Kids will play compositions and arrangements by Mark Wood. Not long after Knipfer read about the program, one of her friends brought Wood to work with her orchestra in Oshkosh.
River Falls Community Theatre's production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" lives up to its name, sharing with audiences the heart and hilarity of the original novel. Like the beloved classic, the play tells the story of a small town and a family of "the worst kids in the history of the world," the Herdmans: Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claud, and Gladys. The Herdmans come to church for free snacks and shock the kids and adults in town by taking over the annual Christmas pageant.