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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Craig Lewis taught for 35 years. As the Hudson resident neared retirement, he made a decision that's made a big impact on his life. "I knew I wasn't going to be able to just go cold turkey on having kids around," Lewis said, "So it just seemed like the right thing to try." Lewis decided to become a foster parent. For three years he was a teacher and a foster parent. Then, he retired and went into foster care full time. "Every day is rewarding," Lewis said. "Every day is fun. Something different."
UW-River Falls student Kristy Strain had volunteered to help with dementia patients at Hudson Hospital in the past. Later, she wanted to continue volunteering within the health care system, and looked on the UWRF website for volunteer opportunities. One of those listed was a chance to work as an Allina Health Hospice volunteer. Strain's grandmother went through hospice care. "So that was kind of one of my areas of interest," she said. "Eventually, I'd like to run my own hospice or manage a hospice in the long term."
When Kinnic Health & Rehab Assistant Activities Director Kristin Herum heard Janet and Doug Hansen's wedding story from 54 years ago, she was inspired to throw them a real wedding celebration. "It took a little convincing on Doug's part, but Janet really wanted to do it," said Herum. Janet, who has been staying at Kinnic Health & Rehab, said their vow renewal ceremony and celebration turned out even better than she'd expected. The whole event was very different from Janet and Doug's wedding 54 years ago.
Spring Valley School District has expelled a student who threatened to "shoot up the school" via social media around April 4-5. The student was expelled through age 21 from Spring Valley Middle/High School. The student will be allowed to apply for probationary readmittance which could allow the student to graduate on time, according to a news release sent out by the school district.
Hannah Burns loves seeing people use the fitness park located near Hudson's Lakefront Park. Just installed in November, the park was Burns' special project. Last month, she stopped by a Hudson School Board meeting to talk about her project and the award she's received because of it. Burns earned a Prudential Distinguished Finalist bronze award for the state of Wisconsin, and also won on a local level. In addition, Burns received a Presidential volunteer award, according to her mom, Kim Burns. When she started the project, Hannah had no idea all this would happen.
The organization American Rivers recently announced that the Kinnickinnic River is number 10 of 10 rivers included on its list "America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2018." The news release cites "outdated dams that are harming fish and wildlife habitat and limiting recreation and economic revitalization opportunities. American Rivers and its partners called for removal of two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers locks and dams in the Mississippi River Gorge in Minneapolis, and two aging dams on the Kinnickinnic River in River Falls, Wisconsin."
River Falls is once again tuning up for its annual Roots and Bluegrass Festival, set for this weekend, April 13-15. New this year, Chamber Marketing and Communications Specialist Meghann Witthoft said, is a Flapjacks and fidles event at Riverwalk Square, which will include Pancakes, Syrup and bluegrass music by Riverwalk Junction band. That will kick off Saturday's events at 9:30 a.m. at Riverwalk Square. Witthoft said the chamber is partnering with the River Falls Public Library for a hoedown barn dance.
UW-River Falls Prof. Kevyn Juneau is a new professor. He's in his second year at UWRF, and has been looking for different opportunities for his students. He wants his students involved in class projects, as well as developing a sense of place. Juneau was at a public meeting, chatting with some folks there, and ended up talking about possibly doing a semester-long land management project with his students on land owned by the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust (KRLT).
Anne Jackson headed all the way to Puerto Rico last weekend for the 70.3-miles Ironman Puerto Rico. The triathlon is a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. But, for Jackson, the event is about more than a race. "This is my chance to bring awareness and to help the homeless dogs of Puerto Rico," she said. Jackson has done the Ironman Puerto Rico the last two years. Last year, she noticed many stray dogs around. As a dog lover, she said, she couldn't help but feel sorry for them.
The Spring Valley School Board has set two listening sessions for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14 and Thursday, March 15 at Spring Valley Elementary School. The listening sessions are aimed at gathering community members' opinions on the direction they'd like the district to take with the aging elementary school building. "We will have representatives from Market Johnson and SDS Architects there to answer questions," said District Superintendent Don Haack. "They've been doing the facility analysis and they can give more in depth responses to questions about the present facility."