Community members may have noticed some new bylines in the pages of the News and new faces covering events around town this fall.
The newspaper has two new reporters on staff: Jordan Willi and Sarah Young. The two journalists will take over duties previously handled by reporters Jackie Grumish and Gretta Stark. Stark took a position in July in her hometown of River Falls with the River Falls Journal. Grumish left the paper in early October to stay home with her two young children.
The new reporters will join part-time reporter Tom Lindfors, long-time sports editor Dave Newman and editor Micheal Foley, who has been on staff since just July.
Willi lived in a few different Wisconsin communities when he was young, including Green Bay and Mauston, but he mostly grew up in nearby Hudson. He was a member of the Hudson Raiders hockey team and played alto saxophone in the marching band.
He graduated from North Dakota State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in web design. He also played in the NDSU jazz and concert bands while in college and came home to intern at the Hudson Star-Observer for two summers and a bit during winter break as well.
“It was pretty fun,” Willi said of his time with the Hudson paper. “I had just decided that I was going to do journalism as my major, and it was nice to stay in my hometown and work with some people on stuff that I was concerned about myself, given that I’ve lived there for a while now.”
Willi is now in the process of buying a home in New Richmond after moving here from Worthington, Minn., where he found his first reporting job as a sports reporter for the Worthington Daily Globe.
One of the things that surprised Willi about New Richmond is that it seems so similar to Hudson, and he’s looking forward to even more excitement with a population boom in the future.
“Obviously with the bridge going in in Stillwater that’s going to change for the positive with more people coming in and being more diverse with different types of people,” Willi said.
Willi has taken over the education and community life beats for the newspaper.
“I was involved in a few things in high school, but hearing about all the things that go on in the schools here and all the things that need to be done is kind of interesting,” Willi said. “Getting involved with kids in general — they’re always a little more lively and active doing things to help the community, playing football or basketball, or whatever sports are going on.”
In his spare time, Willi enjoys reading science fiction and watching football and hockey on TV.
Young grew up on her grandparents’ hobby farm east of River Falls and graduated from River Falls High School.
She went on to earn degrees from UW-River Falls in French and Spanish in 2001 before deciding to go back in 2002 to pursue her journalism degree, which she earned in 2004.
“I thought I wanted to be a French or Spanish literature professor,” Young said. “I think a lot of it was because I liked all the different grammatical aspects of language, and I didn’t realize to be a professor I’d actually have to teach people.”
While studying journalism, Young also worked in the university’s Public Affairs office, and the student newspaper. In the summer and fall of 2004, Young interned at the New Richmond News covering New Richmond and Star Prairie.
“I did a lot of feature-type stuff around town,” Young said. “The one that always sticks out is a woman who had macular degeneration. And then there was another couple that had the same car for 40 years, and they would baby it and take it on road trips. That was a story I really enjoyed.”
Young began working at Philander’s Grill & Bar in Prescott while she was in college, and she worked her way up to the manager position, which she held until she began at the News this month. While working in the hospitality industry, Young kept her journalism skills sharp by freelancing for the River Falls Journal. She has covered town government for the paper since 2008, and she has also contributed to special sections and special projects for the RiverTown Multimedia family of newspapers. In addition, Young has had her work regularly published in the Superior Catholic Herald.
She will cover Somerset, Hammond and Roberts for the paper’s Neighbors section, and she is excited to explore the communities.
“I like the friendly attitude of all the people,” Young said. “I had a meeting with Paulette Anderson in Hammond, and she was just so full of information. Everyone has been so welcoming. They took me around to three different businesses and the library and stuff like that.”
Young lives in Prescott with her husband Mike, daughter Carolina, and dogs Reba and Ramona. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, taking road trips and vegetable gardening.